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About Tribal and Tribal Fusion

** These are Aela Badianaís opinions and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the Tribe.**

What is American Style Tribal Belly dance?

  Most people have a clear understanding about what tribal is and how it is supposed to look: improvisational choreography, dancers invisibly signaling commands to create the dance as they dance TOGETHER.

Earthy and very traditional music from the entire Middle East and North Africa are some of the sounds you hear. Pioneers of this style where Fat Chance Belly Dance and later Gypsy Caravan, just to name the two most famous tribes. When you look at some of their early performances on tapes and compare some of their last publications, you see that they too have changed and evolved. In an interview with Carolina Nariccio, she even admits that they thought they were doing just plane old belly dancing, until someone said no, it is Tribal.

The Tribal scene today is about as colorful as the costumes these days. Thank God, black is no longer the primary color choice of tribes.

Dancers like Rachel Brice, Sharon Kihara and many others, have shaped the way Tribal is looked at today.

But to make a long story short (my favorite sentence), here is my definition. Now keep in mind, I was first introduced to tribal in 2001 in Germany. Back then, Tribal was predominantly danced at renaissance fares in castle ruins a few hundred years old.

The setting is reflected in the dance styles, the costuming and naturally the music. But here I am getting sidetracked again.


  Itís kind of the whole point of being a tribe. Take into consideration that everybody has a say in the group. Make up your own rules and create your own style. No one wants to see a cheap and probably not so good copy of the latest and greatest.



  Keep in mind, that the costumes should be comfortable and well fitted. If you are at a Ren faire, you will be in costume the whole day. Have everybody wear a similar skirt or top, to give it that consistent look. You are after all, in a Tribe. Costuming should reflect the style of music you are dancing to as well. Other than that, you have free reign.

  Make sure you check on what everybody already has and go from there. Tribal is supposed to be fun, not lead you into bankruptcy!

Dance Formation (positioning of the dancers)

  Fist and foremost: the best tribal group is only as good as its weakest member. Donít make the routine/ chorus so difficult that less experienced dancers canít follow. Cues should be clear and not too abrupt in changes. This gives everybody the chance to catch up. If you are the leader at this time, take into consideration that less experienced dancers might not be in tune with you yet and are not ready to change very quickly. When you lead, you are responsible not to make them look bad. Donít show off, you will get a chance to showcase your talent during a solo performance. When dancing with the tribe you are NOT a soloist performing in a group, you ARE part of your Tribe.

  If you take all of this into consideration, everybody will have a great time dancing with each other and that will show in your performance and impress viewers. There is nothing worse than a bunch of uncoordinated dancers flailing all over the place.

  We at Wicked Hips Tribal have an assigned leader position that is easy to see from all positions. It is never in question who the leader is. We take turns leading, to mix things up a bit.

Is ATS always improvisational or are choreographies learned too?

   I have found that mixing and matching is not only a good idea, it is fun. Beginners rarely feel comfortable improvising. That doesnít mean you shouldnít learn though. Have a well rehearsed group that does sectional choreographies or little combinations and improvise the rest of the time. Again, the rules are what you make them to be.

   It is very important that you establish a common dance vocabulary, so you can ďspeakĒ to the music, no matter what kind of music you have. It needs to be structured on where your hands, head, hips and feet are to achieve the consistent look that is true tribal. You can interpret the music by your own rules while dancing a solo. In return, the person leading the Chorus while a soloist is dancing should not overpower what is going on in the front. Small, subtle moves are great so the rest of the tribe is not taking the attention from the soloist.

   I guess to make a long story short (there I go again), know your sister tribal members as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Be aware of your surroundings and the music, be considerate and open for visual communication and HAVE FUN!

My goal

   My goal is to express my creativity, to lose our everyday selves in the music and to recreate myself within the dance. What other people see and interpret is their business. I donít stress about what other people think. I just close my eyes and dance. If you dance with all your heart, only then is your dance pure. Then it doesnít matter if you have the latest costume or the most complicated steps and combinations. Then the dancing becomes what it was intend to be, a reflection of your soul.

~written by Aela Badiana, all rights reserved~


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