The Real ‘Otaku’/’Geek’ Belly dancer?

Video Footage Here —>

{or view video on original post on Livejournal}

I was hoping I would never have to dig this video from the grave…as I loathe it to pieces. Look at it – I was 17 years old, about 20 lbs heavier and my dancing was not very up-to-par, in my opinion. I can recall very well that I was very ill during the performance as well and I was recovering from a head cold. But here I am, showing it to everyone because there is something in that video that is absolutely necessary for something that I would like to prove.

This is also perhaps an apology on my part. An apology to a certain person who claims to be the ‘original Otaku-fusion Bellydancer’, an explanation, and hopefully and end to this frustration. There seems to be a misunderstanding going around, fueled by her, and I would very much like to clear it up. I am almost amused to have to be writing about this, but this is sad and frustrating, and enough is enough. I hope that this will quell any unnecessary reputation for myself and my group.

With respect, I will not expose this person’s name, so I will call her, ‘Miss X’. I met Miss X at the first convention I attended since returning to America from Japan, a very tiny event in Alabama called, ‘East Meets South’ in late 2006. There, to my utter delight, I immediately noticed ‘Otaku-Fusion Bellydancing’ on the program. I was so, terribly excited to see that someone out there seemed to have the same idea as I, to fuse fandom with bellydance, and was actively pursuing it. I definitely had to see what it was about.

Needless to say, I went to her events..I no less than fawned, if some people may recall. I stayed after her events and hung on every second of the con, looking for this ‘Otaku-fusion Bellydancer’. I finally had a chance to speak with her after her panel, in which I had explained that I do something similar, and that I would love for us to team up and perform at conventions together. I also brought my laptop down and showed her a few videos, for the purpose of illustrating that I, too, was a professional dancer. I then gave her my card, and asked her to contact me. At the same time, I was invited to be a guest at my first event in America. It was not until after a year or so when she finally did contact me, but it was not in interest of a partnership, rather than to ask me not to use the ‘Otaku Belly Dancer’ title, and to request it to be taken from the convention websites of which is was used. In our exchange of e-mails, I tried hard to kindly explain to her that I did not steal her ideas…and tried to appease her as much as I was able (despite the angry opposition of many), even offering to provide a link on our website. She, however, insisted upon credit to her for the idea, which is something I could not truthfully give.

Now, I was never the one who emphasized the term, myself. Living in Japan, I became quite aware of the slightly negative connotation of the word, ‘otaku’. I acknowledged that here in the US, I can get away with using the term ‘otaku’ with pride, but in Japan, I was more hesitant to use the term regularly. Prior to going to Japan in 2005, I attended my first convention – Momocon…There, I had met a very dear friend of mine, Manny Camacho, and danced casually …There, the nickname, ‘Otaku Bellydancer’, stuck. Now, in Japan, acknowledging the negative connotation of the word, ‘Otaku’, the term was only used lightly and only in jest. My friend would jokingly refer to me as the ‘Otaku Bellydancer’, but I rarely used it otherwise. I started performing in Japan with my dear friend Chanel, and the term was used to differentiate myself from her, since everyone knew me as the anime-loving, computer geek.

So, basically…”Which bellydancer is she?”, “The ‘Otaku’ One”.

…Performing at an event to an anime song and having it well-recieved by anime-fans gave me the idea to try my hand at performing in cons once I got back to the United States. I had no idea how to do it, and I did not even know if it was possible, but I knew I wanted to try.

If she claims ‘otaku bellydance’ is her original creation, I will not dispute that, but then it would be mine as well. Even though we have a similar idea, our styles and forms and ways about going about such are very, very different. I thought of it long prior to meeting Miss X, and with respect to her, I have explained repeatedly that I do not wish for her to feel as though we have stolen her ideas. Even before I was living in Japan, I was affectionately called an ‘Otaku Bellydancer’ by my friends, and it stuck ever since. The only similarity between our ideas is the idea to dance to anime music. However, independently of her, it was also my idea to dance in cosplay at times, and perform skits, etc. etc.

…Anyone can be an otaku bellydancer, in my opinion, and this is why I have never claimed to be THE one and only ‘Otaku Bellydancer’. To me, anyone who claims to be ‘otaku’, and is a belly dancer, is an ‘Otaku Bellydancer’, just as a shoe that is red is a red shoe. Ms. Charo has been an otaku bellydancer long before she met me. Long before she knew of the Raqs Attaq!, she has been performing to anime music. She is both an ‘otaku’ and a ‘bellydancer’. …Simple as that. Everyone who knows me well understand that I take EXTREME pride of those who have inspired me, as I oftentimes talk fondly of them. If I had truly gotten the idea from her, her name would follow me wherever I’d go. But the fact of the matter is, as harsh as it may sound…I was as inspired to do ‘Otaku Bellydancing’ by her just as much as she introduced me to Anime and Belly dancing…which is none at all. These were two things that I discovered and loved years prior to meeting her.

However, here is something that I DID receive from her. Something that I can credit her for.

On that day that we spoke for the first time, Miss X showed me the proper way to flip a fan. This is why i do not perform it. As for anything else, however, I cannot give credit for something I truly did not take.

This is a situation that makes me…sad. If she is truly disinterested in partnership, I’ll understand. However, this is a sentiment that I cannot identify with, for as long as there are those who have a love for both things, I find it very appealing to make friends with them and work together. I do this now, and it is many times more fun and gratifying than doing it alone.

As for those who I have inspired to take up the art form of belly dance, some of which are now a part of the group today, I am very honoured to be your mentor, and I am even more honoured to have introduced you to Oriental Dance.

It is to my great disappointment that it has turned out to be like this. I view all dancers as sisters in the belly dance community, and I am always eager to be a part of the family. It is very disheartening to realize that there exists what seems to be a rivalry…something I would have never expected.

Anyway, I digress. The video. The proof. If anyone can read Japanese, they’ll know that it says, “Chanel, Rose, ‘Otaku Bellydancer’, Kokusai Festa 2005”. The ‘Kokusai Festa’ was a debate-type event that occurred at our host school in Kanagawa, Japan. Our October 05 performance the earliest evidence that I have of the title being used, which was a little over a year before Miss X’s panel at EMS.

For further clarification:


The video was sent by my friend, Sumita Koichi on that date – 11/07/05. So, obviously the video was taken prior to that. About over a year before I had first encountered Miss X. There is also a website that highlights one of our performances during a Christmas International Festival that year at a Military Base in Zama…which also uses the term…I would provide a link only if I could find it.

So, I am hoping I can clear this up… As an artist, if someone were to take my artwork, claim it as their own and make money from it, I know that I would feel very vexed and hurt about it, to say the least. So, needless to say…to be accused of doing something similar is quite hurtful and rather insulting. I am sure that there are a million other bellydancers out there doing something similar, if not the same. …Take Amira, for example, and her awesome ‘Princess Leia Bellydancer’ act.

So, I apologize. I deeply apologize because I will not be dishonest enough to claim that my ideas once belonged to someone else, no matter how much I would have liked to appease her. There have been times where I have debased myself for the sake of pleasing others, but this time, I will not. Here is the proof.


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