Ali Mckenzie-Murdoch, originally from the UK, is the creative director and owner of ZeoT dance studio in Zürich, Switzerland. Here she talks about motivations and inspirations behind her world of dance. More info here.
just as the moon
i am still learning
to stand fully
in my whole power
Danielle Doby – I am her tribe
Finding the strength to remove the ‘mask’ and stand tall takes courage. To shine in your own light, show your body, and show yourself, is empowering. I believe that through performing together, we can learn to move differently, not just on stage but also through life.
In our oriental dance school in Switzerland, we work with many women from all walks of life, inspiring them to find joy, confidence and strength through belly dance. Through dance, our students find community with other dancers and a new perspective on themselves.
For more than 10 years, I’ve initiated performance projects, exploring different themes and involving dancers in the creative process, rehearsing and performing together. It’s a process that starts on paper and evolves through experiments in the dance studio, teamwork and many hours of practice. It results in new friendships, the adrenaline rush and magic of performing on stage, and, most importantly, the transformation of the dancer.
In 2016, I created BEAUTY FOR ASHES, which highlights this process of moving into the light with its theme of rebirth. Oriental dance techniques and props were used in new and fascinating ways. Together the dancers built the structure from which a consuming fire erupted; in the ashen underworld they found solace with strangers – and there they waited for the change that was to come.
Oriental dance is the perfect dance form for these projects. It’s a dance where all women, regardless of age, size or shape are accepted. It’s a dance form performed by women for women. It’s a celebration of whatever femininity is for you. The oriental dance genre also encompasses many different styles that can be adapted to the different themes of performance projects. For instance, in BEAUTY FOR ASHES, just as fire turns wood into ashes, we incorporated elements of the ritualised trance dance Zar to embody the idea of transformation through dance.
THE POWER OF COLOUR
In 2018 we performed CHROMA.
Approximately 70 student dancers took part in this production. This is the description of the project we presented to our students:
‘Colour is an elemental human need … like fire and water, a raw material indispensable to life.’ – Fernand Léger
Become a colour tourist and travel with us into the world of colour manifested through movement, form and time. Participate in the creative process of exploring aspects of colour to create a dance piece for CHROMA in June 2018. Learn to apply oriental dance techniques in new and unexpected ways, and share the excitement of creating, rehearsing and performing together.
Colours were chosen by the choreographers and included:
With floor patterns, dynamic combinations in place, reflections and duets, we created an oriental fusion of tango, reflecting the hallucinogenic qualities of “la Fée Verte”. We also played with the concept of attraction/repulsion and canon effect to create contrast, tension and drama!
Red stands for love, passion and fire, but also for anger, revenge and death. No other colour evokes such strong images and arouses such contradictory emotions. Our dance reflected the energy and power of the colour, without excluding its vulnerable side. The dance style was modern-oriental, using elements from classical-oriental dance as well as modern dance. This piece was performed to the music of Alicia Keys & Jack White – Another Way To Die
THE POWER OF SMELL
From colour, we moved to fragrance with the performance of PARFUM.
A perfume is like a liquid memory or emotion, silent and difficult to describe with words alone. Discover the memories these fragrances evoke, brought to life through dance.
Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, this project was never performed although individual elements of this project were presented in 2022 as part of a larger show.
I’m so proud of every woman who has participated in these projects and I hope they continue to stand tall and shine off-stage, in their own worlds.