American Tribal Style Bellydance

I’m happy – it seems I finally found a sport that combines some things I like: work-out, music, and cool outfits. – Well, obviously bellydance is much more than that, it has history, and dialects, and lots of other aspects; but since I just started, I’ll learn more about them in time.

For now, I’ll just explain in layman’s terms (since I am a layman, er, laywoman) what (and who) drew my attention to this unique kind of dance. Through “goth” music I found gothic bellydance, and learned of the existence of Ariellah Aflalo, one of the best dancers you will find*. The style she helped create, dark fusion bellydance, is a “darker” interpretation of tribal fusion.

Tribal fusion in turn is a special form of American tribal style (ATS) , a modern form of bellydance Рwhereas ATS (aka Tribal) dancers focus on group improvisation (facilitated by a system of visual and audible cues to combine a common repertoire of moves), fusion artists like Rachel Brice, Sharon Kihara and Zoe Jakes include solo performances and incorporate other styles of dance in their repertoire (e.g. goth influences, as mentioned before). If you are interested, you may want to read on about the history of ATS and bellydance.

Now to the personal stuff:
What fascinates me most is the incredible body control tribal fusion dancers are capable of, and I admire the ability of tribal dancers to create a choreograpy by using a common language of cues. Then there are the different types of music that can be used for dancing – from Cabaret to Industrial, from World Music to Electro; it’s like being a child in the musical candy store :)

Apart from being careful when performing certain movements, bellydancing is one of the most dangerless activities (ranking directly after reading books and playing chess).
In term of props, bellydancing is a really undemanding sport: some music, comfortable clothing, and off you go. But yes; of course I also love how dancers style for performances – the skirts, the flared pants, the tops, the hair, the bling.

So yay! for every aspect, but: if you watched some of the videos I linked to above, you’ll have noticed how deceptively easy every movement looks.
Trust me – it is not. If you start (and I suppose most dancers will agree) most of the time your body is just not capable of performing the things your head tells it to do. First of all, you need to be able isolate each part of your body and to work on moves particular to each body part. And then you have to learn to combine these movements to achieve a confident, relaxed and fluid impression when you dance.

The first steps I took:

  • attending an oriental dance class to get my feet wet (and my muscles sore)
  • starting to learn the Black Sheep Bellydance dialect of ATS with Eva
  • a workshop with Arzo, focusing on locks, pops and ticking (where I really did not know how to gracefully move my hands when not ticking)
  • a workshop with Warda, all about gracile hands and arms, including a nice combination of OT movements. I noticed again how crucial elegant hand movements are for achieving a perfect impression when dancing.
  • a workshop with Doro, learning fusion combinations¬† to the sounds of Beats Antique‘s ‘Oriental Uno’ *whee* – I need to practise more!

It’s a long way, and I just started. But I’m looking forward to see how I progress.



*also I am not quite sure if those artists are fully human. At times their movements look more like those of a biomechanical being => <3

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