Welcome to the Playground
My New Arts & Innovation Lab
Is this your first time here? Oh, you're not familiar with my arts and adventures? Well, come on in! And you--hi! You followed my breadcrumbs over here? Shweeeet. Please do NOT keep your hands and faces inside the vehicle, but do be aware of the dangers inherent in waving them about in the wind. Also dangerous: tinkering with my toys.
Because they're artsy. Don't you know that artists can be dangerous? Especially those of us who mix mediums, color outside the lines, muck about in unconventional ways, randomly color inside the lines just to be anal-retentive and show that we can, then go and splatter a bunch of stuff against the wall--stuff, I might add, that is customarily NOT splattered at the same time--just to see what sticks.
Or what falls on the floor and can be smeared around with bare feet. Because it's fun.
(Safety gear may be recommended for that.)
Artists are particularly dangerous when we spill outrageous sentiments across our pages, stages, or canvases, because art can communicate on a deeper, more instinctual level than lectures or articles.Why do you think certain regimes like to ban, censor, exile and attack us? (While adopting the brilliance of our techniques for their own regimented purposes.)
“Art speaks where words are unable to explain.”
~Threadless Artist Mathiole
“Words cannot always do the work we need them to.
Music is there for when words fail us.”
~Kvothe from The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
I am most well-known in dance. Apparently I am most notorious in writing.
Okay, I'm also notorious in dance because I've never been able to make myself do it "right," even though I started out desperately wanting to. But I lived in a rural place and fell in love with a dance style that I could barely find any information about for years.
The style: belly dance.
The location: northern Minnesota.
Yeahhhh, not much belly dance up there in the conservative north woods, but in all my nineteen years and a lifelong devotion to dance, including a college degree, no other style had ever entranced my heart and exploded open my mind like that. I was instantly obsessed. So I found myself tossed into Fusion Arts by necessity, not by choice.
Now fusion is absolutely my preference and my passion, as well as my thirty-year profession.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) for my dreams of being a belly dancer who was "proper, authentic, genuine"...ahem...I had bigger, more driving dreams of being a Warrior Woman. When I discovered Medieval armored combat at twenty-two, that altered my dancing forever.
It altered my writing, too.
I don't "do it right" in any of my arts any more than I do in dance. In writing I blend genres that are considered by many to be mortal enemies. Fantasy and high-heat sex? Noooo! Fist-raised, froth-mouthed social activism with a childlike awe of life's mysteries? We can't have that! Soul-searching, gore, and kinky erotica all in the same novel? Off with her head!
So I play in my own little sandbox with my handful of friends. I run artsy experiments and twist my mustaches in the laboratory. I wander the woods in search of wonder.
(If alliteration drives you bonkers, this is not the place for you. Blame Dain Bramage. My brain had to jerry-rig the communication center of my bashed left side. Amidst my recovery, I had to rely on visual imagery for vocabulary recall, and I suddenly couldn't stop rhyming or writing in cadences to save my life. I still have to make myself NOT do it.)
We do a lot of jerry-rigging around here. We have to.
And we like to.
ELEMENTAL ALCHEMY - CREATION & INNOVATION
Once upon a time I got overwhelmed. I couldn't maintain all my weekly local dance classes while also touring internationally on TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), so I had to find a way to bridge the gap between monkey-see-monkey-do basic technique and teaching my students the deeper arts of Dance. I'd always done this by delivering a wide variety of choreographies, then putting it all together in guided exercises for learning how to make their own dances. But once I had to switch to workshops and short, sporadic class series between travel gigs, I had no idea how to convey all this...this...
What I Do as a dancer.
So in 2010, the Dance of Elemental Alchemy was born. It is a combination of 5 Elements in East-West Fusion:
ALCHEMY - the fusion of all 5
The main styles of the dance correspond to the Elements:
SPANISH & INDIAN FLARE (that's the Fire Sign’s version of flair)
ALCHEMY - the fusion that is My Dance
Oh, you're an audio/visual/kinesthetic person, too? Here ya go:
Around 2015, this dance teaching system spawned something inside me. It was huge. It was overwhelming. (Still is.) I didn't know what to do with it for a long time. Half the time, I still don't. That's why I'm doing a bunch of platform experiments right now. I'm searching for a way to organize, distill, and communicate--not just What I Do as a dancer, but What I Do as an innovative creative.
Okay, fine. I'm trying to organize, distill and communicate this stuff in any way that anybody outside my head can possibly digest.
Because this System is also my means of organizing and plotting out What I Do as a neurodivergent HSP healing numerous bodily injuries, TBI, memory loss, and C-PTSD through a variety of modalities.
While driving home through the flickering foliage one autumn morning, the Muse chuckled at me and whapped me upside the head. Like She does. "You already have the vehicle," She told me. "You just need to use it for all your arts, not just dance. You need to use it for your whole life."
Thus was The System born. I call it this because, when I tried to map out what She had shown me into a circle graph, it wound up looking like a huge solar system with a bunch of planets, moons, and asteroids spinning around.
At its barest bones it is:
EARTH: Domain of the Body; Realm of Dance
AIR: Domain of the Spirit; Realm of Magic, Music & Muse
FIRE: Domain of the Heart; Realm of Passion & Emotion
WATER: Domain of the Mind; Realm of Memory & Story
METAL: Domain of the Persona; Realm of Martial Movement & Meditation
ALCHEMY - Domain of Being; Realm of the Life Cycle
So what does all that mean?!?!
Explaining that is a primary purpose of this Stack.
Pronounced "heart...a beast." Because my mom and I are punny gals. Wut? My last name is Hart, I'm a martial artist, and one of my nicknames is Bella. Another one is The Beastie. So it's not a wildebeest. It's not a hartebeest. It's the HarteBeast. Badum-tssss!
Seriously. If you don't like geeky, nerdy, dorky humor, this is not the place for you. If you do, come gnork out with me!
Where can you find my arts?
✨ BELLA & THE BEAST SUBSTACK - all my Damsel To Dangerous Tales, including my writing about TBI and the other touchy topics that inspired me to take up martial arts. At the moment, this is where I'll be migrating those aspects of my old memoir blog, as well as continuing on with the new adventures. Be warned: my memoirs are sometimes NSFW and 18+. So is a bunch of my fiction, which I plan to also post on the other publication, hence why the separate Stack. Ye be warned: There Be Beasties Over Yonder!
In my best Hermione Granger voice - For example:
✨ IZZY DANCER YOUTUBE - my original belly dance fusion channel from my stage performing days.
✨ HARTEBEAST YOUTUBE - Dance of Elemental Alchemy, arts & innovation, nature & creation, Bella & the Beast videos and vlogging.
✨ WORK IN PROGRESS GALLERIES - real-time shenanigans & updates on the stuff I'm currently creating.
✨ MY KO-FI PAGE - updates about where you can find everything I post everywhere. Blogging, memoirs, fiction, dance, photography, videos, healing, costuming...all of it.
Since I'm doing a major platform overhaul prior to getting rid of my Everything-Including-the-Kitchen-Sink of an old website, the Ko-Fi navigation hub will be important, in case any of these experiments fail and I pivot. You can subscribe there to be notified when and where I post stuff across every platform I’m on.
Since the advent of Substack Notes, I’ll also be sharing a boatload of that here too.
So there you have it. Welcome to my playground. Let's have some fun together!
Oh, yeah. If you're familiar with my writing then you already know that the end of a post is almost always guaranteed to introduce you to my obsessions--I mean, my favorite music, movies, shows, books, and fellow artsy creators. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading Tinkerings of an Elemental Alchemist. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my
work…play. Okay, it’s both. Come join the adventure!
A couple examples…there are countless others.
Banished “Witches” sing of their pain - and their dreams. "Music has a great power," Umuhoza Delli says. "People will listen to messages in songs they would never tolerate otherwise."
A few examples…unfortunately there are countless others of these, too.
“Degenerate Art” Under the Nazis
Russian Artists Back Putin or Face Censorship
The Fear of Art: Contemporary Art Censorship
Librarians Mental Health Threatened by Book Bans, Abuse and Harassment