Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Journey Of Tribal Bellydance

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But when that journey is filled with many different ways to take that step, is the destination the same?

The style of bellydance that I embrace, love, and am obsessed with has its roots in what most people know as bellydance (or what is known as Egyptian Cabaret), but really was born out of a need to make something that empowered women in such a way that had never been done before. Where women accepted one another, and became their own tribe, dancing with and for each other with their own language of movement.

My own roots began in cabaret at a young age, and still to this day, my heart has a special place for the style.

But, I'm starting to realize a few things as I travel along on my tribal bellydance journey. The true beginnings of tribal bellydance stems from American Tribal Style, created by Carolena Nericcio and Fat Chance Bellydance, drawing from tribal ideology with a strong flamenco influence. Tribal fusion is based in this style...but, lately, I've noticed that there's a sudden influx of "my style of bellydance/belly danse/tribal bellydance" being taught.

Which leads to me wonder what is the true tribal fusion style?

As a dancer of this art form, I feel that I should be true to the authentic style of the dance, and even as I use the word "fusion", I hesitate to teach "my style" to beginning students. Because, honestly, I feel as if everyone is suddenly teaching things differently, and there may no longer be that common ground that really created the whole tribal movement. The language of the dance seems to not have different dialects, but entirely different languages being created. From using the words "gypsy", "Bohemian", and even changing the spelling around to stand out, the true meaning of tribal bellydance seems to get foggier every day.

Personally, I have only taken a scant few ATS classes (and stalked YouTube), but I strive to keep the roots true to my dance and teaching. To keep myself current and constantly learning, I take workshops and intensives from the most well known dancers who define tribal style hoping to keep the authenticity intact. Hopefully, this will include finishing Rachel Brice's Eight Elements intensive series...because, truly, in my eyes, she is the tree trunk that sprouted tribal style as we know it.

I can't speak for other dancers, but knowing and respecting the history of what I love is incredibly important to me. And I truly hope it shows.