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Spotlight On: Stygian Collective




1. Tell us about your group, Stygian!  How did you get started and what is the focus?

The Stygian Collective is an exclusive worldwide community of unique dancers who push the boundaries of dance. Created by our director Daewen, the goal of the Stygian Collective is to foster community, spark inspiration, and provide instruction and opportunities to all the dark, metal, or otherwise "weirdo" fusion dancers of the world. 

When I originally started dancing in 2012 with a more traditional fusion focus, I quickly realized that while the dance was definitely for me, the music was not. I wanted to dance to the music I enjoyed, so I did. Over the years I found a few similar dancers locally and started a troupe, the Stygian Sisters--named by my husband after the River Styx in the Underworld from Greek mythology. Then through a mix of circumstances involving member moves, myself moving, starting a family, and working on an online studio, the idea to make a worldwide troupe crept in.

Thus the Stygian Collective was born--rooted in my style and teachings through the online studio, but also growing beyond that to be an amazing community of like-minded dancers to support each other and simply dance the way we love! In a nutshell we're an alternative dance community that really embraces the darker side, the experimental side, the "whatever you want to try" side...and full of love, acceptance, and connection. While we're still primarily an online group, we are making more appearances in groups as we gather little pockets of members or travel to see each other. For instance last year 10 of us got together at Fusion Evolution in Chicago, and the year before there were 7 of us at FISSION as part of the Mega Massive. My goal is to make more of that happen in 2024!

P.S. Anyone interested in dance can join us (https://stygian.dance/stygiancollective)




2.  You've recently started a Runic practice- tell us all about that.

Starting as a teen I was really drawn to paganism and especially the Norse runes, so the magical element of life has always been with me. In 2020 before everything hit the fan, I saw the folk pagan group Heilung live in Chicago and I guess you could say I had a spiritual experience. The call of magic and the runes returned to me, and since dance is clearly such a huge part of my life and business now, I felt pulled to fuse my love of the runes and dance together. Since then I've been experimenting with magic as movement, and just completed a whole Runic Dance Program featuring "Runic Combinations" that invoke the meanings and power of each Elder Futhark rune. These can then be combined into dance choreography or structured improvisational dance, adding a mystical energy drawn from within. It's been an amazing experience and I cannot wait to release it officially to the world on March 15th! You can learn more about it at https://stygian.dance/runic-dance.




3.  What are your biggest considerations when you are choreographing?

My choreography always has a deep meaning to it. I love the emotional expression involved in dance, and feel it's important to take your audiences on a journey. It's great to put on a pretty costume and do a little dance...but to me the real joy and power of dance is through storytelling. Dance is about expression, and for me it's also often cathartic--meaning I put a ton of emotion into my pieces and release it through the process to give myself some relief. That's why a lot of my pieces are really dark...It's a way of sending the negative forces outside, putting them out in the open to be dealt with and let go of.



4. What are your main influences and inspirations?

My biggest inspiration is music itself. Music is constantly played in my house, or if not out loud it's in my head! I was a musician as a child and music just runs in my veins. I also draw inspiration from art, mythology, horror, fantasy, magic, and the human experience. Then of course I have many dancers that inspire me, whether it's with their style, dedication, stage presence, or personality. To name a few, the dancers who have had the biggest impact on me are my friend and mentor Ami Amoré, Ariellah, my fellow Stygians (especially my fellow Sisters Nyx and Kasper), Belladonna, Kamrah, Moonhoar, and of course my first teacher, Cindi Adkins.




5.  What do you see in the future of Fusion?

I hope to see a resurgence in interest. After the pandemic, it seems a lot of us are struggling to keep full classes, conventions are cancelling, and there's less people getting started with dance. I'm still inspired by the dedication in the students and professionals I know though, so we're still here and getting the love of dance out there. I think there will be some serious work to do in reconnecting dancers in real time, and then the flow will return.




Daewen is a premier Metal Fusion belly dancer located in the greater St. Louis area. She is the founder and director of the Stygian Collective, a community of Metal & Dark Fusion belly dancers spanning worldwide! Daewen is also a star instructor in both the live and virtual worlds, including an extensive online studio open to members across the globe. Daewen's "Stygian Style" is uniquely inspired by a blend of heavy music, strong emotions, strength, mythology, horror, fantasy, and magic. 

Find Daewen online at https://stygian.dance


And on Facebook & Instagram @stygiancollective

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