Jeffery Klaehn: Thank you very much for the interview Diana !! Where are you from and how did you first get interested in dancing? At what age?
Diane Bastet: I’m from Ukraine, Sumy. The beginning of my interest in dance came once, on a cold autumn evening, when I was young. I was almost 20 years old, studying in college and getting bored at night, so I decided to try a new hobby and took dance lessons. Nothing serious, in fact. And to be honest, I didn’t even like it that much. Mainly because of the music. So I left these classes shortly after. At that point, I still didn’t realize that my new way of life had just started slowly. Later, by chance, I discovered a genre of music, “oriental metal”, with songs from Orphaned Land. It was music that I ultimately liked to dance to, and I decided to give it a try. So I started to dance seriously. Alone. Nobody could teach me, and there were no teachers around, because who dances on metal? It’s a crazy idea, but I tried anyway.
JK: How would you describe your dance performance?
Diane Bastet: It is the art of my fusion with great music, where a song is the heart of a whole mechanism.
JK: Your facial expressions convey so much, I think, throughout your performances. How do you approach expressiveness strictly in terms of eyes and expressions in your performances? A quick smile about five seconds from your “Ratamahatta” the video, for example, conveys the tone, the feeling and the attitude and then this performance seemed to flow directly from it, wonderfully. And that smile comes back at the end, in a meaningful way, expressing emotion. I also think of your expressions and smiles throughout your “Angry Darbouka” performance video. And these convey joy and joy, to me, as a viewer, as well as your passion and confidence. What can you tell me about this element of your performance art?
Diane Bastet: Interesting question. I never really paid attention. Honestly, I don’t control it. I don’t play a role. I don’t specially do these faces. It’s part of me. Part of the whole process, related to the body and the emotions, the music and all the feelings of the moment.
JK: How important is trust in what you do and how did you get there? At the same time, are you self-critical, as an artist? How important is the balance here?
Diane Bastet: Good question… balance is very important. It is impossible to develop without self-criticism, but [only] when it’s not too much. Sometimes I dive too, too deeply into self-criticism. It is very difficult to create at this time, because I can withdraw into myself for a long time totally helpless. I trust my life only or especially only on stage. I still don’t know how it works. I feel like something very special and very interior comes from within, when I wear a costume and when the music is loud. Something makes me so powerful in these times.
As for confidence in general, like a bit in everything – resistance to haters, to criticism, strength and faith to keep doing what I do – that’s the experience. A lot of experience, hard work, over the years. I have always liked “brilliant” people. But I never thought I could be one of them. Kind of like “everyone but not me” thoughts from childhood. I started to make my art with friends by their initiative, they believed in me a lot and more than I believed in myself. They created my YouTube channel, put the first videos online… And I am infinitely grateful to them. 🙂 After a while I continued alone, because I liked it, because I needed to create like I needed to breathe. And so a lot of people started following me, it inspired me so much. And it made me more confident. Their support around the world is invaluable to me.
JK: What can you tell me about your own muse and inner creativity, how your space of ideas influences your dance performance and your choices regarding music?
Diane Bastet: My inner muse works 24/7. 🙂 Sometimes it can get tired, but not too long. I like to create, it’s my air. The musical choices are absolutely intuitive.
And the music tells me what to do. When I listen to a good song, I see an image, a kind of abstract drawing, and I try to repeat it while dancing with movement.
JK: You are world famous. What are the best compliments you have received from the public and the fans so far in your career? And how do you see your notoriety at this stage? What does this mean to you?
Diane Bastet: I think I can already make a book with all the interesting feedback and comments I get from people on social media. It’s charming and inspiring 🙂 Fame, I don’t know. I feel and live like a simple human. Fame can mean a great responsibility for me for my art.
JK: Are you more famous in certain countries or regions of the world, do you think?
Diane Bastet: My audience is mainly from the United States, but also a lot of people from the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Brazil and the Scandinavian countries. Ukraine is in 19th place in the analysis list, and people don’t know me that much here.
JK: How much training, hard work and practice has been and is involved in what you do on a daily basis? And what advice could you give to those who want to try oriental dancing but may be scared or not sure where to start?
Diane Bastet: Very often I train alone in dance as a sports competition, trying to win and do better than me. I pay a lot of attention to muscle and flexibility training. It is a substantial base of powerful movements, which is very important in the style of metal belly dance.
It’s not a question of how much or how often to train. It’s an individual thing. And the main thing here is the pleasure of the process, only in this way will there be a result.
For beginners, just one piece of advice: just start. Open the door to a dance hall. It’s simple and so hard. But it is definitely worth it.
I don’t work every day, especially nowadays, but I try to keep moving, like Diana Bastet does!
JK: Some of your biggest artistic inspirations and influences?
Diane Bastet: I love human ability and creativity, so much. And I like those who stand out among the rest by the way they think, live and work. They inspire me. To talk about famous artists and their influence, for example, I like paintings by Giger and Dali, architecture by Gaudi. I love Coco Chanel and Thierry Mugler for their immortal fashion. I love Dita von Teese because her name is Dita von Teese. 🙂 I love music, it gives me wings. 🙂
JK: What about the cinema, some of your favorite movies?
Diane Bastet: All movies by Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, Coen brothers, David Fincher.
JK: Your favorite books, writers?
Diane Bastet: Now I read U Nesbe. And I love the books of King, Remark, Hugo, Bulhakov, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Sapkowski, Christie, Doyle …
JK: Tell me about your passion for dance and the art of performance, today, now. Has he changed? How have you changed and grown as a performer since you first became interested in dance?
Diane Bastet: It’s hard to talk about it and even think about it nowadays, because I miss the scene a lot… It’s great to have a huge experience now, to be stronger mentally and physically, to have cool costumes, to ‘have a name… because I didn’t start out like that. If it had been possible many years ago to show me what I would be able to create in this world after time, I think I wouldn’t have believed it and just passed out.
JK: The good life. What does the good, sweet life mean to you Diana?
Diane Bastet: To live as you want. Rare luxury.
JK: If you could meet and have a quick coffee with anyone in pop culture history, fictional or real, who it would be, and why?
Diane Bastet: Maybe I would have had coffee with Freddie Mercury. Because my love for rock and heavy metal started with Queen’s music when I was only 6 years old. I would say “Thank you, Genie” 🙂
JK: Thank you very much Diane !!
Diane Bastet: 🙂
Jeffery Klaehn holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Amsterdam and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Strathclyde. He resides in Canada.