By: Lauren Jonik
Artists often become categorized by-and locked into-the genre in
which they first become known. But, to assume that someone is capable
only of expressing himself/herself through a singular
means is to limit the creative potential that we all possess. Singer/songwriter/dancer
Dorit has been staring down this very challenge and perhaps most
importantly, overcoming it.
Though Dorit's immersion
into the world of music began as a young child and she was a proficient
pianist throughout her teen years, she discovered her talent for
Middle Eastern dance in her early twenties. "My friend gave me an
article about a bellydance school and two days later, I was in a
dance class. Two weeks later, I was in Turkey. Two months later,
I was in Egypt and I was performing in New York City within nine
months," she says. And, it was her sense of rhythm that was developed
by her musical training that allowed her to excel in the field.
"The live musicians love playing with me because I'm paying attention
to what they're doing. I do solos with a percussionist and it's
not just me showing off movements, it's me becoming part of the
team," she begins before continuing, "I am so much more in tune
with the musical part of the dance than anything else."
The daughter of first
generation immigrants of Argentinean and Polish decent, Dorit worked
at MTV as a segment producer before fully embracing her own artistic
pursuits, but as she began bellydancing, her skills rapidly garnered
attention from both within the dance community and without. "One
time I was doing a show at a hotspot in New York and I came out
with my finger cymbals at first. This guy with tattoos surrounded
by models started banging on the table. He was staring at my hands
and rhythm. I found out later that it was Tommy Lee. And he wasn't
looking at my body or me, he was looking at my hands," she recalls.
Dorit studied dance with
the late Serena Wilson of Serena Studios, who was a legendary in
the Middle Eastern dance scene. Wilson opened one of the first bellydance
studios and helped to legitimize the art form in the US, appearing
on the cover of Life magazine in the 1970s. "When she died
last year, her family asked me to take over her classes, so I'm
teaching two of her classes. I'm actually giving back to the students
because I'm teaching them how to be musicians with their bodies
and not just learning dance movements. At least I will have trained
a generation of dancers to have musicality in their dance and that's
what I'm known for in the dance world," Dorit explains. Noting Dorit's
many talents, Wilson encouraged her to pursue music, as well.
Fascinated with varied
musical styles, Dorit's sound is an evolving blend of her influences.
"I grew up with my parents listening to opera and me playing classical
music and hearing Top 40. "Then, I started listening to Gypsy Kings
and then, I started listening to Arabic music for ten years," she
says almost marveling at the diversity of her interests. Inspired
by the extremes in emotion in her songwriting, Dorit says, "It may
just be that somebody said something and it turned me on in some
way. Or, it might be a really interesting story," that spurs her
to write. The song Rise came forth from a difficult time
in her life. "It's being a phoenix-- the idea where you die to be
reborn again." And, her personal favorite song, Wonder Woman,
pays homage to the character that's inspired her from childhood.
"The idea was that she had her quiet job where she was saving the
world and then, when she needed to, she was in her regalia," Dorit
begins with a laugh. "I wanted to be part of that group that saves
the world with powers-just with the power of truth."
Currently performing her own material solo around NYC, Dorit also recently appeared in the gypsy rock musical Viva Patshiva and is making a video for her first single, a song that centers around female empowerment. "I realized that nobody is going to be the hero that I want them to be, so I just have to do it myself. The video is about women being their hero, whoever they want to be and being fierce and fun."
But, when asked what superpower she would choose if given the opportunity, she answers with a smile, "To be able to really inspire a huge amount of people through music--- I think that would be like a superpower."
originally appeared in IndieSoundsNY
(Issue #38 November 2008).