A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
A Wookiee learned to bellydance, helped by a band of Klingons. The TARDIS shimmied to dubstep, Sith Lords and stormtroopers discovered hip hop, and Link dueled Zelda in a drum battle royale.
A cast of performers from Read My Hips tribal bellydance and the Chicago Fire Tribe showcase original takes on their favorite geek subjects. One part art, two parts comedy, and three parts sexy, Raks Geek is alternately silly, beautiful, and seductive. These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Apparently bellydance competitions have become staples at Star Wars conventions (is anyone else tired of Slave Leia?). The Orion slave girl makes Trekkies drool. A Google search for "geek bellydance" turns up all kinds of interesting performances, many of which I found disappointing from a dance perspective. But a lot of tribal dancers are self-confessed nerds - back in the early days of the internet, I rose second-in-command of Compuserve's Star Trek sim group (imagine a tabletop RPG without dice, played entirely by typing text online - we didn't even have graphics). So what if we took professional bellydancers, put them together with trained fire spinners, and allowed them to do justice to their favorite geek subjects? That's what Raks Geek is all about.
- Dawn Xiana Moon
After years of teaching swing dancing, a YouTube video prompted Dawn Xiana Moon to reinvent herself as a tribal bellydancer. She studied with Stephanie Barto and Jolie Roberson of Read My Hips and soon after was invited to join the troupe, which counts Heather Stants among its alumni. The Singapore-born geek has twice served as a panelist at C2E2 and regularly out-nerds even computer science professors. She is also a singer-songwriter that has toured through 10 states; her new album features folk/pop with influences from jazz and traditional Chinese music. Dawn is also a web designer and developer with clients including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Anheuser-Busch (like this site? She made it). Conversations with her may cover the following topics: the differences between the Lord of the Rings films and books, Shakespeare, great tweaks to Mozilla Firefox, who would win in a fight between the Daleks and the Borg, how decades of Star Wars lore were destroyed in a single moment of the prequels, and the importance of good art.
Michi Trota is a firespinning geek fiend who was raised on a steady diet of 80s cartoons, anime, and sci-fi/fantasy literature and soundtracks. She has a Simpsons quote for every occasion, always bags and boards her comics, and refuses to acknowledge the existence of a fourth Indiana Jones movie. Discussions about geek culture, feminism and intersectionality are guaranteed to get her talking for hours - she's organized two panels at C2E2 and is a semi-regular guest on Loot the Room. She's an organizer for both the Chicago Full Moon Jams and the Chicago Nerd Social Club, and blogs about geekery, food, fire and anything else that catches her fancy at The Geek Melange.
Internationally known, Lee Na-Moo combines bellydance with contemporary dance, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and several Asian styles. He won the 2010 Chicago Oriental Dance Competition, which brought him to audiences in Argentina, and was recently invited to teach and perform at the 7th International Oriental Festival in Spain. He was a longtime member of Read My Hips, directed by Stephanie Barto, and was recently invited to join Joel Hall Dancers, a contemporary dance company based in Chicago. He is also an avid video gamer and a lover of all things geek.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named CC. She liked to call herself a geek, but in reality, she was the girl who hid from the anime club because they scared her - those kids went to conventions! And talked about anime characters as though they were real people! CC's main claim to geekdom was the fact that at some point in her life she played what she described to friends afteward as D&D - however, in reality, it was some other tabletop RPG, and it's probable that she simply confused the two. She also called herself a gamer because she played World of Warcraft for some amount of time. But any nerd cred CC might have had was utterly destroyed by the fact that she never saw the Star Wars Trilogy. Sorry, CC, claiming that you saw Star Wars because you watched the prequels - and only the prequels - makes real geeks upset. It is a matter of grave importance! (CC also failed to write her own biography. However, everything here is true. And yes, she has a website too.)
Kamrah is a recent addition to the Chicago belly dance scene, having come from Tucson, Arizona (in December, no less!) where she studied bellydance. She has performed both traditional bellydance (raks sharki) and tribal fusion belly dance for over a decade, and has nearly a lifetime's experience in music, martial arts, and dance. She has danced with two professional troupes and is currently a soloist. She was the first girl in her school to play D&D, has played every Final Fantasy game known to mankind, is an avid SF and Fantasy reader, comic book fan, and video game freak, and... only slightly less well known is this: never go up against Kamrah when a Star Wars Trivial Pursuit pie slice is on the line! Find out more at tattooedbellydancer.com.
Dimitra "Louloudaki" (little flower) is a native of Greece, born in Athens, and fluent in both the English and Greek languages. Dimitra has performed with Greek and Middle Eastern live bands in Chicago throughout a variety of venues. With a strong preference to dancing to traditional Greek music (called Tsifteteli), Dimitra is an authentic Greek belly dancer with a vast love and understanding of the music. She has been an avid fan of the Legend of Zelda series since 1999, showcasing her obsession for the games with a tattoo stemming from her left hand to her forearm. She is also a Nintendo and Japanese anime enthusiast.
Born in a small town, Shannara always had a strong wanderlust. A self-taught dancer, she became inspired by Ariellah and began learning gothic tribal fusion bellydance in 2009. After many years of travel, fate brought her to a festival called Lakes of Fire in 2010. There she quickly discovered her calling as a performer and, with a spark, began her training with fire fans. She continued honing her skills with fire and dance and, in 2010, her first stage performance took place at the Metro in Chicago. In 2012, she founded Night Magic Designs, a fire and dance collective that has since featured numerous geek-themed shows, including Star Pirates & The Flames of Time (steampunk), Press Start (video games), Steal Back The Night (A Robin Hood Adventure), and Masquerade Mystique (faeries of Avalon). Among other things, she is an avid fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of The Rings, video games, anime, H.P. Lovecraft, D&D, Dune, Marvel, FireFly, Futurama, and Game of Thrones. With a little magic (and the help of a Samus Aran poster), she was even able to make a Time Lord fall in love with her.
The assistant manager of Night Magic Designs since its formation, Lisa has been using her martial background to fire perform with a flair she refers to as "Kasai-Do." Drawing inspiration from anime, Bleach in particular, she constantly strives to improve her style. A lightsaber battle veteran, a member of the D20 Girls Project, LARPer, vintage console collector, and avid gamer with both tabletop and console, Lisa is a lover of all things geek.
Email Dawn Xiana Moon, director/producer.
Interested in bellydance or fire (awesomely nerdy or otherwise) for your next event? We perform over 100 shows a year for corporate functions, private events, clubs, restaurants, and theatres. Contact Dawn for details.