By: Amanda Sandström Beijer
Photos by: Alina Rudya
There’s no doubt about their message - on or off stage, Dance Divine is living and breathing a queercore energy and spreads it around like shooting stars. Playful dives in and finds out how the love for performance started from an intense place and is taking on new forms every single day.
Describing themselves with three words they use: Transmedia, meaning blending all your media creations to one message: non-binary, and healing.
”In order to create progress in your life you need to heal from your own traumas. Besides that, you need to deconstruct the sick reality that society has laid upon you.”
Their parents ran away from the Romanian regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu and settled in Brussels where they finally got legal documents. As kids, Dance Divine and their brother only spoke Romanian at home.
”As a Romanian speaker you were categorized from the start and being a foreigner is already a political social construct. Therefore, we couldn’t speak the language too much as it reminded our parents that their identity is valued upon language.”
Some years later the whole family decided to move to Luxembourg.
”I started creating my own digital identity by gaming with The Sims and through music. I remember when I was ten years old, I locked myself into my room and danced in there all the time to avoid keep me away from the violence and pressure from the outside world. That’s when I found my musicality and started writing my own songs and make choreographies for myself”, they say and continue;
”Creating my own outfits that were already drag oriented, from visions I had in my head. At that time, I was already working a lot with arrangements, which I still do today. I arrange sounds to create hard trance, techno, storytelling music and rearrange what I like and dislike until it becomes aligned with the feeling I want to capture.”
From a young age they felt that they had to push twice as hard with everything, from languages to social acceptance. One of the few things that came instantaneously while on stage was the delivering of a powerful show.
”It was always a struggle to stay authentic, cause I had a neurodiverse mindset* and was already talking about the stars at the age of 10. Then one day my classmate asked me to be part of a musical that the school was putting together.”
Even though every actor agreed about them being the best suited singer for the role, which they also finally got, there were some obstacles.
”The old cis white male co-organizer couldn’t take my body strength to play a female part. That wasn't the first time I experienced fat-phobia, but it was the first time that I deeply felt injustices against my body according to capitalized beauty criteria. And because of this inner revolt and trust in my voice, music became a chosen tool to revolt – willing to become a creator experimenting with the art of storytelling”, they say and continue
”On stage was the first place where I felt accepted by people. You know that survival mode? I even started nose bleeding because of the stress. The impression is still strong when I’m on stage, but believe it or not, I live for this.”
Although feeling free on stage even as a youngster, off stage the school was a place where they didn’t feel safe.
”In school I was being bullied. Guys came up to me and asked if we could be together, and while I thought about my answer, it became clear that it was only a collective joke to make me feel stupid. It was really hard, but later I understood that although we can’t trust everybody, we have to find our community and build ourselves up, and then you won’t hold a grudge anymore.”
”By forgiving you’ll be able to become lighter and let go of what unconsciously keeps you distracted. In alchemy we talk about finding the answers to what’s making you create a pattern, so that you can break free from them.”
The contrasts of the love they received as a performer, and the reality they faced every day in school, was a bit overwhelming. Off the stage Dance Divine isolated themselves in their room. They started to feel the urge to fight for something. For evolution.
”I could feel that it was a loss of time to try and fit in with the rest of the people, and instead I locked myself in my room and started early on to create the same things that I do today. Crafting my vision slowly improved my mental health.”
”If there’s a voice within you, that pushes you toward something bigger, don’t ignore it. Because if you diminish that, you won’t be at peace with yourself. I’ve always had a voice within, telling me that I’m ’abnormal’ within and outside. I even asked my parents as a kid if I was adopted, because I felt so different. The sense of not belonging. The weirdness.”
”Back then I had such a need to feel accepted. Then when I started to craft my own vision and work on my artist persona, I understood that it’s not about wanting attention, it’s about wanting to feel that one belongs to something bigger than the self. About safety, but also about purpose and finding your community and growing love.”
When starting out, they were their own manager. Booking their own gigs, handling contracts, and delivering the show.
”My dream was to be able to have the freedom of action – with whom I want to collaborate and where I want to play and all that political awareness. Queer for me is not a label, neither a fashion currency, it’s a consequence of early discrimination and the revelation of marginalization. Then on that journey I started finding my tribe, and it mostly happened through partying. People who had my kind of body size and who had similar interests and thoughts.”
A really important place they came across was L-Festival, a lesbian festival in Brussels where they curated the closing night in 2019.
”I started to understand that I wasn’t strange, but actually one of many who got discriminated by society. And suddenly I found myself within a strong community.”
”Transmedia brings storytelling and in many ways healing. I also do astrology readings and mudra teachings, as well as symbolic storytelling. It’s a way of building self-love, something that has been a work in progress for a long time.”
Another thing they figured out was to welcome trial and errors and slowing down the pace of life. Shooting their own video clips to illustrate their music productions, brought a good degree of self-acceptance;
”I think errors are one of the best things you can do. It brings you to an understanding of what’s meant for you. But you also need time to settle, and not always be on the run to something else. When you find yourself in a constant noise, you can’t see clearly. Some time ago I started focusing on yoga for example, as a way to slow down, as well as sound practices where I loop the sound as an art of repetition with mantras. As a way of healing and going within, without conquering the outside and other people’s attention. This way my mind focuses on my own understanding and my own perceptions. The easiness and playfulness of being at joy with myself.”
It wasn’t long ago though that Dance Divine decided to move to Berlin from Brussels.
”I felt it was the right moment and understood that I could be all the sides of myself in Berlin, things that I didn’t allow myself to be before. Healing has not only brought me here and towards the expressions I use on stage, and maybe even the next step of healing. Because that’s an ongoing journey.”
”People bike here, food is cheap, partying is culturally present. For all the reasons in the world, Berlin is the right place for me to be in. It’s also a place where I feel I can be an astrologer, a DJ, a music producer, a clip maker, and all the other sides of myself, without being questioned. It’s a place where I’m not bound to fit into a narrow frame but have more substance to float.”
Dance Divine wants to welcome new experiences and by choosing a new city, they will attract new circumstances to a wider extent.
”I feel I can be more transmedial in Berlin than in Brussels or Luxembourg. All creative processes include vulnerability and that’s something that’s inspiring in Berlin.”
Finally what Dance Divine is saying, is that through expansion, through healing and through self-love, we can bend what’s possible.
”If we’re really passionate about something, we can push the limits. And also, by finding our voice within, we find self-love, and the other way around. You know that little voice inside you that says ’no’, or’ yes’, or ’go’, but won’t be accepted by the outside world and what’s viewed as possible for you. That’s what makes you different and unique - and we need to find that within ourselves and listen to it more often. This is freedom.”