What she does: Also known as ms. YET, Y.E. Torres is a contemporary bellydancer, multidisciplinary visual and performance artist, costume designer, model, curator and teacher. She leads bellydance technique and yoga classes at Verticality Pole Fitness and YogaOne Studios.
"I'm interested in creating life out of line -- be it through mixed-media drawings, paintings, collage, movement or with a needle and thread," Torres says. "As a visual artist, my work tends to explore invented characters I call Inbreds -- Carnies, Oddities, Renegades and Motherfucking Scrunbugs -- and the life of the line that leads to their creation. As a contemporary belly dancer, I work primarily in the experimental music community -- improvising movement to sound, abstracting belly dance to a medium of form and line -- like a drawing in space."
Driven by collaborations alongside musicians, filmmakers and photographers, Torres is a movement artist, she says, and works very hard to combine these forms into unique events.
Performing in a belly dance/trombone duo with Nameless Sound's founding director, David Dove, the duo recently completed a two-week tour throughout the southeastern U.S. and are at the beginning stages of producing a DVD of their work.
Torres also produces dance films to document the dynamic collaborations of the deviant and sweet movements with its shaping sounds.
Using drawing, costume design, installation and movement, she combines her art forms to create performance installations -- environments and luscious insular landscapes -- where her body plays the role of the dancer as well as the canvas.
"I feel as though I have no models to follow as I create this hybrid art form, so I am just making up my own rules," she says.
Her main project, currently, is a performative exhibition called The Bad Unicorn, popping up as spontaneous public "guerrilla happenings" and one-night performance installations at least once a month.
Constantly evolving and always improvised, the tale follows a little girl, a unicorn and a bunny that live in her head and combines performance art, burlesque, music and movement. The piece touches on affairs of humanity which activate the hidden pleasures that most people may overlook, she says, aspects of the unconscious related to seduction and control.
What inspires her: Moved by music, exploitation movies and art, Torres gravitates toward the taboo, pushing her audience's boundaries, and her own, through art.
"The carnival and sideshows, human oddities, the deviant, sensual nature of my own emotions as well as the possibility of enticing the viewer into experiencing desires, emotions, that come directly from encountering my creative work...the idea of pushing the viewer to the edges of their comfort level, so much that sometimes I forget that I'm pushing myself to the edge of my own."
It's an effort to hit the groin and skull simultaneously, she says, so that in viewing the work, the audience feels a strong force of nature within them -- intellectual, inspirational, sexual, uncomfortable or just beautiful -- regardless of the feeling, the viewer always feels something.
"I feel my creative work is how I breathe, it allows me to expel emotionally and to lovingly fuck with people."
Anyone of any art form who pushes themselves to greatness, she says, is an inspiration.
"Anyone who shows me something I have never seen," she says. "Who provides me with a unique vision that only they can offer, that only they could have created."
Why she likes it: "It allows me to feel free, and I pretty much get to do whatever I want...my mind races with ideas constantly, and being in a place where I can share these ideas with other artists who are excited to help me execute them is amazing."
Simply creating artwork and projects, she says, is enjoyable because it provides a platform for collaboration, for those working within it to do new things, to take their work to new levels, and to strengthen their own methods of improvisation.
Teaching, as well, is an element that makes her work special.
"Showing others how to connect to their body and breath...it's like giving them something that I can see and feel, their joy from that experience, activating people -- it's a beautiful thing."
If not this, then what? "If I wasn't doing this...I've thought perhaps I would try focusing on one creative area, probably fashion or costume design, or art therapy," she says. "I really love to study, to be inspired through learning and expand my creative techniques, so I often think of going to grad school, but I haven't found a program or city that would suit my visual art and oriental dance study simultaneously."
Torres holds two Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees from the University of North Texas, one in fashion design and one in drawing and painting.
She just works on creating her own path, she says.
"I'm pursuing a movement form and visual art form simultaneously, so it's important to me that I continuously grow in both."
What's next: Torres will be appearing in The Unicorn Petting Zoo during the Gypsy Swamp Showcase at the Orange Show on October 28, and at the 7th Annual Art Outside, with her troupe "The Renegades and Their Collection of Carnies" on a three-day roaming guerrilla performance called Random Acts of Bellydance, including pop-up shows as well as teaching impromptu bellydance classes.
She will also speak about the work of Jasper Johns at The Menil Collection's The Artist's Eye on November 6.
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