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And here, at long last, the interview with LAPSUS!
Interview with Keri Langwell of Lapsus
by kSea flux
kSea: Here we go. This is kSea Flux, once again, interviewing Keri Langwell of Lapsus, the creepy dark spooky crazy belly dance American fusion tribal stuff. So, Keri, tell me about the creation of Lapsus and how that happened.
Keri:Â It was first created in 2000 after being in a troupe which really not all of my creative outlets were being met.Â I was in the troupe for a year or so. After leaving the troupe I didn't know if I was actually going to dance again. But after about six months I was really feeling the need to dance and create again.Â I had kind of always thought that there was an untapped resource of music and places to go into with belly dance.Â I thought that there was more to do with belly dance than what was going on.Â It had evolved so far already and it's all evolution, so I figured it could use some more evolving.Â So, I ended up asking a bunch of other girls that I had known, that had left the troupe too, Â to see who was interested in doing a sort of darker experimental belly dance group that used fire regularly.â€“ Our first piece we created was kind of a regular, contemporary â€“ what I consider to be regular â€“ belly dance music, which is like tribal fusion, which most people dance to.Â We did that song, and then it went into a Sepultura song.
Keri:Â I wanted that on purpose.Â I wanted that umph and the shock. As far as I'd seen, nobody had ever done that kind of music, but I'd always heard all this stuff in other music that I listen to and love that I thought just needed â€“ it just gets you moving, it makes you want to dance.Â It has impact.Â It's was an untapped resource.
kSea:Â Hits you a little bit deeper than the general (if you can call it that) Tribal Fusion music. You just wanted to search other outlets that suit you more. How long have you yourself been dancing?
Keri:Â About 10 years.
kSea:Â And who have you studied under?
Keri:Â Carolina Nericcio, the creator of Fat Chance Belly Dance.Â That was the first place I learned from.Â About a year and a half I danced there, and then I started taking classes with Jill Parker, founder of Ultra Gypsy, the troupe I Â had previously been in. She had learned from Carolina.
kSea: I've definitely heard that name before, even as little as I know about Belly Dance.
Keri:Â They're awesome and they were very innovative at that time.Â I danced with them for about a year and met a lot of the people that I know now.Â There's a lot of great dancers that have come around from that time period. After Ultra Gypsy, then creating Lapsus, and I was also in a group called Lotus.
kSea:Â Wait, back up.You were in Ultra Gypsy?
Keri:Â Yeah. They brought new standards.Â They were very innovative.
Keri:Â Lapsus was originally DebCampbell, Carrie Arrota, Sharon Kihara, Joe Danzkofski, and myself.Â Oh, andShawna Rye.Â I danced with some really great people and a lot of people that have names and such now, which is fun.Â We've all known each other a long time, ten years or whatever.
kSea:Â In dancing with those groups â€“ Ultra Gypsy and others you've mentionedâ€¦
Keri:Â Oh, and I've also studied with Suhailah Salimpour, which is currently my biggest influence on my technique of dance, a totally different style than what I do. Suhailah's mother is Jamillah Salimpour, who taught Carolina, so it's this sort of evolutionaryâ€“ Â and Rachel Brice, I've taken some from her.
TO create Lapsus, it was really scary and kind of hard to find not only really good dancers, but ones that were willing to do these strange things.Â We're a lot weirder now than we were then too.Â Then it didn't take very much to be out of the norm and strange.Â It just took some different music.Â That, and adding fire.Â People had danced with fire at that point, too, but doing fire and metal, you know. [laughs]Â We did devil horns in that first set.Â [kSea laughs]Â It's just a little darker than usual.Â Now we do way stranger stuff.
kSea:Â Yeah, which is kind of a new road.Â Maybe pioneering something else in the black metal tribal fusion belly dance world. You're pioneers!Â What have you learned?Â What were some of the challenges that you've found from the inception of it?
Keri:Â I think I was insecure about Lapsus at first, because it was so strange.Â I wasn't sure how much the other girls would back the vision.Â Even though it's always been a collective thing, there's certain things I need from Lapsus; otherwise, I don't want to call it that.Â I'm willing to do traditional stuff.Â Shit, I'll dance to hip-hop or some jazzy shit, or anything more traditional.
kSea:Â Britney Spears.
Keri:Â If it's the right song, I'll dance to Britney Spears.
kSea:Â Oh, no! That was a wrong answer!
Keri:Â There's a Justin Timberlake song I'd like to dance to. Not as Lapsus, thoughâ€¦.well, who knows??Â
Keri:Â There's a Li'l John song I want to dance to.
kSea:Â So, the challenges in Lapsus.Â Not only from the inception of it, but to this day, what have you experienced?
Keri:Â It was taken really lightheartedly before, which is, I think, what it called for, what it needed to be at the time. I needed it to be lighthearted.Â I needed to be there because I wanted to be there.Â I needed other people to be there because they wanted to be there.Â I needed everybody to feel like they had a part and they had a voice and they could fulfill some of their artistic visions through it.Â It's always been a collective. Everybody has a word.Â It basically comes down to consensus, anything from the music to the choreographies, to the outfits we're going to wear, to the shows we do, to who comes in to the troupe is all consensus. My word's not bigger than anyone else's.Â So, challenges.Â Maybe taking it so lightheartedly for so long.Â We did some stuff here and there, initially.Â It was taken so lightheartedly that people didn't really take it seriously, which was okay for the time.Â We reformed and re-emerged recently, about a year or so ago.Â It's been a lot more serious, and a lot darker.
kSea:Â With last year's Sigil, that certainly didn't seem in any way lighthearted or have any lack of seriousness to it.Â It seemed like it was very prescribed, especially the subject you chose.Â It was called 'Witch,' right?Â The show was, essentially, for those who don't know, basically based on prosecution of witches, if I'm correct.Â It sure as hell was not lighthearted.Â
Keri:Â No.Â [laughs]
kSea:Â It was beautiful.Â It was gorgeous, however it wasn't simple.Â It wasn't funny.
Keri:Â It wasn't supposed to be funny.Â [laughs]
kSea:Â It had an impact and, from what I read of reviews and peoples' comments after that show, it really stirred a lot of people.
Keri:Â Mission accomplished.Â [laughs]
kSea:Â Yeah, bingo.Â So, from that point, and feeling that you've taken yourself a little bit too lightly at times, do you think that other people have as well?
Keri:Â Probably, and in the belly dance world, people like to pick each other apart a lot.Â I've heard some real not-nice stuff, too.
kSea:Â About Lapsus?
Keri:Â Yeah.Â Which is fine.Â Everybody's got an idea of how belly dance should be.Â For me, I think belly dance should be what people are feeling and want to express.Â I think it's fine to do a cookie cutter kind of thing.Â That works for some people.Â I've enjoyed it, I'll enjoy it again.Â We're definitely not in the box.Â We're sort of on the edge.Â We don't really have any particular show we fit into, like a show night.Â Even in something like the darker belly dance stuff, I don't think we really fit quite that well.Â Sometimes yeah and sometimes no.
kSea:Â I think probably the most important thing that, regardless of how ancient a tradition is, everything needs to grow, to evolve.
Keri:Â Everything needs to grow and evolve, and it has.Â American tribal style was bizarre and innovative.Â I'm positive that people in traditional-traditional dance must have hated it and thought it was insulting, the fact that Americans are dancing.Â I think belly dance is probably bigger over here than it is in any one country of originations over there.Â And it's not traditional.Â Most of anything that Americans do is not traditional as far as belly dance goes.
kSea:Â Non-Native Americans don't have tradition. We just rip them off from other people.
Keri:Â Yes.Â It's true.
Keri:Â So, I think Lapsus has just taken that.Â Evolution is not always perfect to begin with.Â [laughs]Â I don't mean 'evolution' as 'top of the chain' or anything like that.Â I just mean as evolving, changing.Â The name 'Lapsus' is Latin for 'gradual movement, error, fault.'Â I thought that was a perfect name for it.Â It does change.Â It has changed.Â Belly dance has changed and it has faults, and it continues to change.Â
kSea: So what are your plans for the future?
Keri:Â I hope to accrue, maybe, a couple more members and have everybody taking it seriously.Â I would love to make enough money just to travel to different cities occasionally, maybe teach a workshop, have a show.Â I teach classes Monday nights 7 to 8:30, 1125 Miller Avenue, Oakland, California.Â [kSea laughs] Â The studio is small.Â It holds comfortably 6, maybe 7 people at a time.Â It's nice.Â You get a pretty personalized training.
kSea:Â What kind of classes do you teach there?
Keri:Â American tribal.Â
kSea:Â Black metal?
Keri:Â No.Â That's for me.Â [laughs]Â American tribal style is whatever flair I have. Â It's sort of a mix between a Suhailah Salimpour style, a bit Rachel Brice-y.Â That's the way I like to move â€“ the way I intend my movementâ€¦.Â [laughs]
kSea:Â Suhailah Salimpour?Â Wow.Â What a cool name, and what an inane comment I just made for an interview.
Keri:Â [laughs] Yeah, she's got a great name.Â She was teaching at 12 years old.Â No shit.Â Her daughter is six maybe, and she can dance just as well as pretty much any of Suhailah's students, and Suhailah is hard core.
kSea:Â Hard core what?Â Belly dance?
Keri:Â Oh, her technique is unbelievable.Â The style she does is a little bit cabaret, a little jazzy, almost belly dance â€“ It's not tribal style necessarily, although her mother brought tribal style popularly into this country.Â How long ago?Â Years ago. She's an older woman.Â She taught Carolina, who is the head of Fat Chance.Â She danced with Jamillah, and then Carolina evolved to that point to the American tribal style, brought that popular to this country.Â Although Lapsus ends up doing this dark stuff, I just like innovation.Â One of my favorite dance groups right now is Unmata, and they're not really dark whatsoever.
Keri:Â Unmata.Â They're amazing, from Sacramento.Â They're incredibly innovative, but they don't bleed and convulse, such as Lapsus does.Â [kSea laughs]Â Whatever I do, I just want to try to do stuff that's innovative and pushing my own boundaries, and pushing other peoples' buttons and affecting people some way.Â
kSea:Â Sparking something inside of them.Â Creating emotion.
kSea:Â What do you have in store for, not only my show Revolution, but for the upcoming Sigil?
Keri:Â For the upcoming Sigil we're in production right now with new stuff.Â The story is being formed, the music.Â It's going to be an all brand-new piece.Â For Revolution, I think we're going to reach into the fun bag.Â [laughs]Â Just have some fun there. I like the element of surprise.Â I don't tend to reveal a whole lot.
kSea:Â In which case I feel I should give you and extra special thank you for this interview! I think that's pretty much it, except for the last question, which I never tell anyone about but eventually youâ€™ll all know.Â Tell me a secret.
Keri:Â A secret?Â About Lapsus?
kSea:Â About anything â€“ just a secret.Â Tell me something that most people don't know about you.
Keri:Â Lapsus does a lot of crawling as anyone whoâ€™s seen us could tell you. We also do this little floor spin, wich is a Patrick Swayzy move! Ha! Iâ€™m goofy, and it will come through in the dance. I like it to be fun!! I'm a big little kid.Â
kSea:Â I can't really agree with that too much, but to a certain degree I can.Â Keri, thank you so very much for coming by and talking to me about Lapsus.
Keri:Â You're welcome.
Before that, Lapsus is performing at Revolution on August 8.Â
Last Updated (Sunday, 09 May 2010 20:33)