A Feral Folk Chat with Dud Muurmand

For this first instalment of the #feralfolk feature on my blog, I had the pleasure of chatting with dancer, instructor and costumer, Dud Muurmand. I first met Dud at Gothla UK in her burlesque fusion workshop, and have been a student of hers ever since. Her Weimar-Berlin cabaret style as well as her skirt fusion and traditional belly dance styles, all with a darker edge is unique in the belly dance world. I’m excited to have talked to her via email. 

Ally: Can you tell us a bit about your current projects? 

Dud: My biggest projects currently is my Patreon forum and my Ravenwing Design. My Patreon forum is reaching its 2 year anniversary this month. This subscription-based forum where people can study and train dance with me is a very large part of my creative work time nowadays.

They are more like “vignettes” or “moving sculptures” inspired by old tales, mythology and history.

I am very happy to see how the forum keeps growing and the support I get back from my patrons. It is a very fulfilling project for myself also. The technical work behind all my video releases and live stream classes have also given back a lot of experience and inspirations into other artistic ideas in my head of story-telling/dramatic dance videos – but quite unlike the regular choreography-caught on video. They are more like “vignettes” or “moving sculptures” inspired by old tales, mythology and history. The first of this idea came out last year in my little video project “Mørkealf”

My Ravenwing Design (slow fashion and upcycled designs aimed at dancers and other free spirits)  is another big project of mine currently – still in its inception, but nevertheless a creative project that has been on it’s way for about … well, ahem 20 years! 

I have always been very creative and productive with my hands: sewing, knitting, crocheting, making costumes, making stuff – and very inspired by my own mother who was also a very creative and productive person. For many years she was also encouraging me to expand this side of my creativity and jump into “business” but for some strange reason of insecurity I was stalling. Unfortunately, I lost my mum 5 years ago so I did not have her to push me anymore, but luckily my husband “took over” the pushing part and I started “Ravenwing Design” last January 2019. 

Like I said, it is still in its very beginning, I am such a terrible “business person” I completely lack the sense for figures and numbers –  but I will try to focus on what I can put into my designs – love for beauty.

INSTAGRAM: @ravenwingdesign

FACEBOOK: Ravenwing Design

Ally: Do you have a favourite adornment? Does it have a story?

Dud: Okay, this question was like opening Pandoras box – because I went straight into my treasure boxes of ….many many …. jewelry and adornment pieces that I have collected over the years – and what to choose?

Some are of course family heirlooms that contains their own history, other pieces are marking different phases of my life, others are special pieces that called out to me at a shop, a flea market, an artisan market. I am a hoarder on that matter, period. As a dancer and physical mover,  I am also not really able to wear so much jewelry on daily basis, but when I dress up I fancy putting on more stuff and I am not afraid to mix old and new. But instead of wearing my pieces I like to hang up especially necklaces as adornment in my home studio.

OKAY, I have to choose:

 first is the necklace my husband bought for me as the very first present in our relationship – it was the year 1998 and he gave it to me on the premier night of my dance play “Orientalia 2000”

– Second is a small wooden brooch that my mother actually made herself when she was a young girl. I don’t wear it very often, afraid to loose it – but I love holding it in my hand

Ebony brooch made by Dud’s mother

– Third: a little variety of earrings – earrings is what I wear the most. Some years ago I found this guy in the Berlin Mauerpark fleamarket. He has a little stall with earrings and jewelry made out of scraps – especially electronic scraps. I have several of his earrings – but one pair is a favourite made out of tiny light bulbs from car lights.

And then I want to point to my newly possessed Nidavellir earrings  from Feral Strumpet, they are really growing on me, I just love the form, the beauty and the vintage feel.

Ally: Is there another artist, writer, dancer or maker that you think we should be paying attention to now?

Dud: Again – where to start? I have chosen 3 musicians, that are in my personal perimeter at the moment:

I loooooove music and it is often from music I get inspiration for my dance artistry. These 2 guys you will recognise from a lot of my online training videos because they both make “royalty free music”, which is a treasure in itself, but that is actually not why I keep using their music. They are very different in styles, one is very dark and the other is doing a lot of electronic cross-over and experiments (and also game music, which is where he started I think – but digging into his archive there is sooo much more).

– MYUU www.thedarkpiano.com / YOUTUBE

– TEKNOAXE www.teknoaxe.com /YOUTUBE

The 3rd musician is Danish  DANHEIM, www.danheimmusic.com – pure love for “viking style” music, the depth, the stories, the imagery – and he is becoming very popular which is well deserved.

Ally: Dud, thank you so much for talking to me. I especially liked hearing about your mother’s brooch and her influence on Ravenswing. Also thanks for turning me on to Danheim, a new favourite. 

You can find Dud Muurmand online in these places

Dancer Dud Muurmand in a dark wood

This One is For My Dance Sisters…

brigantesMany of my shop supporters and customers are fellow belly dancers.  I thought you might be interested in this epic post I’ve written for my American Tribal Style® Belly Dance Blog all about costuming for Tribal Belly Dance. I wrote it primarily for my beginner students who are coming up to their first performances this summer, but it might be of use to anyone who dances in the Tribal Style, or anyone who is curious what goes into the elaborate costume!

Adventures in Tribal Fusion

Performing with Renegade Tribal. That's me on the left. Photo by Jennifer Bombardiere-Lippit

Perhaps my best kept secret is that I am a dancer.  The fact that I am a dancer is proof that sheer force of will can make almost anything happen.  I do not have what this culture considers a dancer’s body.  Since childhood I have been known as “the klutz”, and in high school theatre my inability to dance was used to comic effect, if it was used at all.

In hindsight we see our missed chances, places where we blew it.  I don’t have many, but the one that is most glaring is my refusal to dance, seriously, earlier in my life. In the late 80s I lived in San Francisco, just when Carolena Nericcio was inventing American Tribal Style dance and founding Fat Chance Belly Dance. I was hanging out at Cafe Istanbul in the Mission and there were women dancing.  Not the sequinned, chiffon veil bellydance I’d seen before (which I thought cheezy) but something else totally mesmerizing and earthy, and something I really, really wanted to do.  At the end, one of the dancers tried to pull me up to join them and…I refused!  I refused to dance because I was too ashamed of my body, and certain I would make a fool of myself.

One blessing about getting older is you no longer listen to those voices. Belly dance is a haven for women who have stopped listening to those voices and just want to move, and move well.

For a few years I have been dancing seriously– in my own living room. I have had world class teachers.   Kimberly MacKoy  gave me the gift of muscle memory training– “welcome to the labyrinth of your body” she would say.  Jesse and Philippa of Morai Tribal were the ones who taught me American Tribal Style, though I am still a beginner and would sometimes come home from that class in tears, it was so hard for me.  Jesse was the first teacher to help me understand that it wasn’t hopeless and it was dancing with her that I first realized that mastering even the most basic of ATS could feel like flying.

I now study with Samantha MacLaren in Selby and perform with Renegade Tribal, and my first performance in front of other people was this weekend– something I thought I would never do.  Life surprises you sometimes. With Samantha I have continued to hone my muscle memory and choreography skills.  Samantha not only believes everyone can dance, she makes it happen. She is a powerful dancer and I’m lucky to have her as a teacher.

Along with Tribal Fusion comes exciting possibilities in costuming– the photo below is of Samantha wearing her belt and headdress I made for her Lady of the Lake solo piece.

Samantha MacLaren wearing the Lady of the Lake belt and headpiece by Feral Strumpet on Etsy, photo by Mark Zuza.