Alexis Southall is a variety of things. Dancer. Instructor. Choreographer. Director. Producer. She is a professional dancer from the UK working internationally, sharing her extensive knowledge of fusion bellydance – a contemporary and experimental approach blending the cultures of the East and West. Alexis has had the privilege to be an invited guest teacher and performer in 21 countries to date, and is known for her precise technique, flawless musicality and her generosity as an instructor. To view more info visit www.alexissouthall.com
First time you saw dance?
Probably during my first class to be honest! I started ballet when I was four years old and don’t remember having much of a passion for it! I got to Tap and Jazz a year later and they were more my cup of tea. But I don’t remember a stand out time that I saw dance that really made me want to learn it.
First time you saw bellydance?
I went with a friend to a community open day at the local college. There was a bellydance taster session there which we participated in and the teacher did a short performance. I had previously had no idea what bellydance was or why I would be interested in it, but I went along because my friend wanted to go and I had danced my whole childhood so I figured why not? I loved it instantly.
How did you get started?
After the taster session I mentioned above, there was no news about classes for at least another 6 months. I had pretty much forgotten about it by the time my friend asked me once again – I want to go to this class but I don’t want to go alone, will you come with me? It turned out the original teacher had moved out of the area and it had taken this long to find a replacement teacher. I was 19 at the time and thought it would be a great way to get back into dance and try something new. I had done modern dance until I was almost 17, and quit to start working a part time job and focus on finishing school, so by this point I was really ready to get back into dancing again. I started off learning cabaret style, and after seeing Bellydance Superstars about three months into my learning I became completely enamored with Tribal Fusion and traveled as much as possible to learn that style.
It is the only dance style I have ever done that has felt amazing on my body. Over the past 25 years I’ve studied numerous dance styles, and I have loved them all in one way or another. But my body feels so at home in bellydance vocabulary. In my first class I very much felt like my body had always wanted to move this way and I just hadn’t known it. Of course I also love the music and culture of Middle Eastern dance and the vast variety of stylisations within ‘bellydance’ or whatever else you may want to call it. I could never learn everything there is to know, and that’s exciting. It’s the only dance form that has kept me wanting more and more and more for the past 11 years.
Why do you dance?
I dance because I can’t imagine life without dance. It keeps me sane, it gives me an outlet for my creativity and has given me the opportunity to do amazing things and meet amazing people who I now count as friends.
Don’t dance to please anyone else. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Celebrate the success of your peers – doing so does not diminish your success in any way. It only serves to strengthen our amazing community. Practice with consistency and dedication and you will be joyfully rewarded 🙂
Anything inspiring you lately?
Right now I am obsessive over Electronic Trap music. I’ve liked Trap for a long time, but lately I’m just obsessed, and do most of my Tribal Fusion practice to this style of music. In terms of dance styles, I am very inspired at the moment by hip hop, house, waacking and vogue. I love the attitude but mostly I am inspired by the movement vocabulary. House Dance is my second love after bellydance. Dancers that have inspired me recently, in the Tribal Fusion world are Olga Meos from Kazakhstan, Eliana Hofmann from Germany, and Emilie Gumy from Switzerland – all incredible dancers who have clearly worked incredibly hard and have a unique voice in the dance form. In bellydance in general – always Aziza!
More information on classes and where you teach?
My regular classes are in Wolverhampton, UK. I teach ITS (Unmata style), Tribal Fusion, West Coast Vintage Bellydance and Pilates and Dance Conditioning every week. I also teach regular workshops and intensives in all styles around the UK and travel a lot all over Europe to give workshops. You can find more info on my website: www.alexissouthall.com
What's up next?
I organize Infusion Emporium festival in the UK and this year we have Elizabeth Strong, Colleena Shakti, Ashley Lopez and Eliana Hofmann. Much of my summer will be spent making sure all of the details for that are in place before the event on 27-29th October this year. I’m also hosting Ashley Lopez for her new teacher training course for the first time in Europe this October right before the festival so that’s very exciting. Otherwise, mostly I’m teaching dance in various places, teaching my regular classes, choreographing for my dance troupes and working on my own practice. No trips to the US this year, so trying to also plan a holiday in Asia – I’m dying to go to Laos and Vietnam so that’s the aim for this year!