Two Arts in One – Seraphina the Otaku belly dancer.

GameStop, Inc.

Well I was adventuring down the halls of NashiCon. I discovered a wonderful performance, and the talented lady behind it. Professional belly-dancer Seraphina has created her own way of sharing bellydancing with people from many walks of life, combining her own personal love of anime and with cultural dancing; it’s a potent blend of passions that make you applaud and leave you wanting more.

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She is not just a bellydance enthusiast, but also a certificated teacher in her home town in Alabama. I got the chance to interview Seraphina before her panel began. She revealed that beyond the substantial traveling she has undertaken to seek out additional training, she has had the honor to be taught by celebrities like Kimmy Little and Rachel Brice. This is not just a flight of fancy. As is evidenced by the heart and soul that goes into each of her performances, this is more of a lifestyle. It is who she has chosen to become.

The original idea of for this odd fusion came from her good friend, Justin “Phoenixtear” Johnstone. He was a photographer as well as a cosplayer, and he was also the one to take Ms. Seraphina to her first convention and introduced her to the life of cosplay. It was his suggestion that she merge her passions into a single art form, as well as taking it on the road. He was always a positive and supportive friend for her throughout her career. Sadly, Phoenixtear passed away in 2008 after a long battle with cystic fibrosis. Though he has passed on, Seraphina keeps his optimism in her heart and her performances. She needs that optimism; Seraphina suffers from endometriosis. This is a disease that only effects women, and many go their entire lives without identifying the condition. Rather than hiding her burden, Seraphina uses her craft to help bring awareness to the little-known condition. She refuses to allow herself to be a mere victim. She endures through her dancing, and draws on the energy and support of the people around her.

I feel like that strength is shown in her performances. Watching her dance left me breathless and moved. Her Attack on Titan piece was forceful and energetic, but her last dance was by far the most powerful. She danced to the song “Lillium” from Elfen Lied, and the tangible emotion that she infused into it swept the whole room off their feet. I had never even seen the anime, but the performance was of strong enough caliber that it didn’t matter—I felt the message in my core. It was an experience that stayed with you. From the applause, I think everyone else agreed.

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Seraphina made all of her costumes herself. Not just her belly-dance fusion cosplay, but other pieces as well. At Nashi, she premiered her Tsubasa cosplay. This was only one of her 80 cosplays she has done since the early 2000s. She strives to make new shows for each of her convention tours. With her mix of Tribal Fusion and Raqs Sharqi and amazing costumes, it’s easy to see how she is making a name for herself. I was very happy to meet someone so smart and outspoken. She is also a major proponent of fairness and tolerance among the geek ranks with regard to cosplayers of every shape and gender. When asked her opinion of cosplay’s emergence into the mainstream public eye, she remarked, “It’s good that it’s out there… though there is the bad side, where more people are picking on one another. We just dont need that.” She went on to state that cosplay should not be criticized or diminished simply over personal preferences or body type. “Cosplay is for anybody, the same goes with bellydancing. It should be fun. That’s all that matters.” Serapina urges self love as a whole, as well as expression of same to others. She is a gem of the geek scene. If you are attending MomoCon (in Atlanta GA), make time to see her. You will not be disappointed. Also make sure to get your yellow ribbon to spread the word about endometriosis, and show your support.
Seraphine’s facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/OtakuBellydance

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