Belly Dance

Interview with Sadie Marquardt, from Denver, Colorado

Valeria and Sadie

– Below a transcript from an interview with Sadie Marquardt.

I’m Sadie, I’m  from Denver Colorado. Originally from Wisconsin, which isn’t very interesting, so sometimes when I’m dancing people say you know, expecting to hear oh, where are you from, they wanna hear something exotic, somewhere from the Middle East. And I go, yes, I’m from somewhere far away in land and time and then they say where, and I say Sheboygan in Wisconsin.

I’ve been pretty much involved in some types of, you know, physical sports my whole life whether it’s gymnastics mostly, swimming, other forms of dance. I really love movement and moving my body and I just started taking classes. My first introduction to belly dance was classes and I think that I actually never ever really saw a belly dancer before I took classes. It just sounded interesting. It just popped in my head and I thought..ummm…belly dance.

My first teachers were from Denver, Joynan and the late Vaydera Amira. They were really good teachers, they were both, you know, very much strict on the technician – like the technical part of the dancing. Really focused classes which kind of tend to go for now myself when I teach.

And then I eventually branched out and started taking classes with almost all the dancers in Denver, like Eva Cernik, Suzanna del Vecchio and Rochana was another one of my favourite. Outside of Denver I started studying with Suhaila Salimpour and you know, the festivals like Rakkasah introduced me to to a lot of different teachers. I did a tour in Turkey also with Eva Cernik and I studied with a lot of the Turkish dancers there, like Sama Yoldas and a couple of other great dancers.

Denver workshop

I don’t think that I have a certain style that I focus on. I just kind of draw from it all really. I really like the technique involved in the dance and I really focus on the strict technique and I really like trying to do like almost impossible things with my body, so that’s kind of what I focus on. But I love all the styles and I really love the Turkish style, I love the Egyptian style, I love fusion, I love incorporating props, swords, veils you know so. I enjoy all the styles and having the freedom to explore all of them.

I guess the most fun show I have ever done was the first time I danced in Turkey. I danced at the Orient House in Istanbul and that was definitely a highlight for me. It was a beautiful venue. It was just awesome to be able to bring the dance full circle back to its home and be performing in a venue with huge beautiful stage, great lighting, great sound system. They really, you know, make sure they showcase the dancer and entertainment and then dancing for this international crowd of people from all around the world and, you know, seeing all my belly dance friends who were on the tour, it was awesome.

I guess more than anything I have the favourite instrument which is the drum. That’s what I feel the most in my body and when I choreograph or dance I just always feel the drum, I wanna do the drum. I dance to the drum and I choreograph to the drum as well.

First and foremost for me for the future, for belly dancing in my career, I want to finish the video production – a production I am working on in Denver, which will be showcasing all of the great dancers like Eva Cernik and Suzanna del Vecchio, Rachana and a bunch of others. It’s a kind of way to pay homage to my favourite dancers and the women who paved the way for me in my career in Denver. And also kind of giving a nudge to the belly dance world that hey – it’s also happening in smaller places like Colorado and mid-land America and not just the coasts. So that should be out this fall and it’s coming along beautifully and I’m really looking forward to it.

Workshops with Sadie and DVDs

Sadie now travels around the world to teach and perform and she is very well known in the international belly dance community, nowadays. As she says in the interview, she really is a very technical dancer and very good with isolations and moving different parts of the body at the same time with different rhythms. I attended a workshop with Sadie, back in 2009, at the second International Bellydance Congress, in the UK. She is a very good teacher and very personable. Her workshop focused on drills and isolations for drum solos.

In the evening, after the workshops, I saw Sadie perform and she was really great and technically perfect. You can also see the Turkish style influence in her dance and she did a great Turkish drop at the end of the performance. Sadie’s style is not everybody’s cup of tea though. For some she is too technical and there is not enough feeling in her performances. Her interest for technique is made explicit in the interview above and in all fairness all her movements and isolations are effortless. I think though that, whether a dancer’s style is your cup of tea or not, there is always something very good to take home from a class with a very skilled dancer such as Sadie.

In her career, Sadie has also been in several belly dance instructional DVDs, of which I myself own one. The DVD I own is Thrillin’ Drillin’, which I had to go through slowly bit by bit over several months, as the drills are challenging and it is very satisfying when you finally get them! I do not think I would ever use the exact movements she teaches in my own performances, as they are not my style. However, I found that they really helped my coordination, strength and reaction time. So, even if I would go for a more lyrical style of dancing, it is very useful to be able to still move your body with precision and be able to add an extra touch to some wow moments in the dance.

You can click here to see more of Sadie’s instructional DVDs.

See in the video below an example of Sadie dancing, taken in Brazil in 2014. You can see her precise and crisp style and she finishes with a perfect Turkish drop. Find out more about Sadie on her own website:

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Valeria is a dance researcher completing a PhD in dance and heritage. Valeria also teaches and performs as a belly dance but also enjoys learning ballet, jazz dance and other dance genres.


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