About the festival
Bwitchs - International Bellydance Fusion Festival completed its second edition In March 2016.
The festivals were the first of its kind in varied ways.
- First Bellydance Festival in Bombay and Goa.
- First International Bellydance Fusion Festival in India.
- The festivals married Art and Activism. They were rooted in Women Empowerment.
The event has always been slated on Women’s Day Weekend in a bid to teach bellydance against a backdrop of conversations and activities around pro-feminism, trust, and power dynamics.
For the festival International and local artists came together showcasing their work. Bellydancers from France, Portugal, Russia, Spain, US, Slovenia, Puerto Rico collaborated with Indian dancers from Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and Mumbai India saw never seen before bellydance fusions such as Burlesque Belly Fusion, Hula Hoop Belly Fusion , Thai Odissi Belly Fusion, Kathak Belly Fusion, Sacred Temple Bellydance Fusion, Flamenco Tribal Fusion Bellydance, Khaleegy, hip hop bellydance fusion, Indian Classical Bellydance Fusion, Egyptian Street Shaabi, Samba Fantasy Fusion, American Cabaret Bellydance, Theatrical Bellydance among others
…. Among many others
Artists that Bwitchs has collaborated with:
Colleena Shkati (USA)
Sedona Soulfire (USA)
Natalie Nazario (USA)
Nika Mlakar (Solvenia)
Nadia Nikishenko (Russia)
Meher Malik (India)
Bindu Bolar (India)
Essa Duhaime (India)
Payal Gupta (India)
Deepthi Shetty (India)
Mar Ginzalez (Spain)
Stuart Dickson (UK/Turkey)
Daniel Alnuma (France)
Chantelle Gomes (Portugal)
.. Among others
Leena participated in the Rape Protests on Dec 23rd 2012.
“I was restless sitting and watching the horrid protest news on TV. I decided to go out and join the protests on Sunday … it was an unforgettable incident. The police so- called “legitimate care-takers” of our society raining down on us tear gas, lathis and cold water while chasing us down and hurling abuses. Drenched with water and shivering cold I was forced to run for my life over roads strewn with pipes and material from a construction nearby, jump overgrown thorny bushes and over wet slippery grounds. I fell three times over in the stampede and at one point I almost wanted to give up running …Is this the price I pay for voicing what I feel as a woman in this country then something is wrong in our standards. I didn’t dare return to the protests the next day because I simply was nervous of being seriously injured. But I didn’t want my voice to be quietened as they intended.
I know changing perceptions isn’t easy but we need to have awareness of the patriarchal conditioning that limits us and consciously work towards building a society where we can feel GOOD in the body, FEEL what it feels like to walk freely on the streets, sexual, unintimidated, unharrased, unafraid. This is the world we women deserve”
Hence the name Bwitchs
Bewitch means to enchant which we all bellydancers naturally do. We cast a spell on anyone who watches since this indeed a powerful feminine dance form.
Bwitch also rooted in the word witch which is highly misunderstood. It means WISE woman. Our gut, our womb , our belly is a powerful seat from which arise this natural wisdom, perception, intuition. Women gifted with it were shunned since it made them more powerful. Below is a quote from Paulo Coelho which sums this up eloquently.
Our imagination is larger than the world around us; we go beyond our limits. This used to be called 'witchcraft,' but fortunately things have changed, otherwise we would both already have been burned at the stake. When they stopped burning women, science found an explanation for our behavior, normally referred to as 'female hysteria.' We don't get burned anymore, but it does cause problems, especially in the workplace. But don't worry, eventually they'll call it 'wisdom.' - Paulo Coelho
Bwitchs is a collective as I see it of women who love to enjoy living life on their own terms
The Indian society as we know is still rather closed and patriarical. The recent rapes are sheer testimony to that. Women don’t feel safe in such an envirnment and therefore cant blossom into their fullest.
The Bellydance community is a vulnerable one. The forms stills carries a tainted image and perceptions such as ‘dancers are immoral’, ‘bellydance is for mens’ titilation’ still are still held by many. Hence its imperative we find our voice and clear some of these ‘myths’.
Dancing allows us to come back into our bodies as individuals and as groups … it connects our feet to the earth and inspires us to move to her rhythms. It allows us to go further, to include everyone, to tap into a revolutionary and poetic energy which is invites us to take the lid off the patriarchal container releasing more of our wisdom, our self love. our sexuality, our compassion and fierceness. Dancing is defiance. It is joyous and raging