Tribal Style Belly Dance has many faces today and it can be quite daunting to figure it all out. We have ATS, Tribal, Tribal Fusion and we can even break it down further by Tribal Goth or even Tribal Steam Punk. As the dance grows the different teachings and formats even emerge which can make it even more confusing. We find ourselves asking ok so were did the base of all of this start? This is what we are going to cover today. So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy immersing yourself in the richness of Tribal Belly Dance!
ATS also Known as AMERICAN TRIBAL STYLE: American Tribal Style started its creation in the mid 1980’s by Carolena Nericcio who started this style and is the founder. Carolena incorporated movements that were inspired by the folkloric dances of not only the Middle East, but India. It is rich in textiles of not only fabric but, jewelry that can be found in North Africa and India.
ATS is improvisational which means nothing is choreographed. This is done by using very natural dance movements and cues that allow the other dancers to follow the leader. ATS is always a group it is never done solo a group is most generally perceived as 3 or more. The cues are what allows the dancers to communicate with each other without talking! How cool is that! Being in the moment is definitely needed and you must be aware at all times. Eventually Carolena’s group became known as FatChance Belly Dance that started in San Francisco and is now known worldwide. So with this said, all and any movements come from Carolena only. ATS is very specific on how you hold your arms and placement of movement and is also right sided. Which means that you dance on the right side only the left hip is often left out. American Tribal Style is not an old dance; it is new hence American. American tribal style is new with an old look and feel. The cues and formations are what make American Tribal Belly Dance the leader is always to the left and the other dancers are to the right so that they can always see the leader and watch as she cues for the next movement.
Carolena started dancing in 1974 with Masha Archer and the San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe. This was a blend of classical Egyptian as well as folkloric. The group broke up and that is when Carolena started teaching on her own. How did the group get coined “FatChance”? This came about when one of the Carolena’s friends played upon the question that we often get about getting a private show. The answer would be:”Fat Chance for a private show.” Fat Chance Belly Dance is known worldwide today and is trademarked and a style that will stay for many years to come. This is what we know as American Tribal Style today, but there where others before FatChance Belly Dance such as Jamilah Salimpour and Masha Archer. Jamilah Salimpour and Morocco. Morocco was the one who named it American Tribal based on a fusion more Westernized and not based on one folkloric style. Jamilah Salimpour was the originator of this style along beside her troupe Bal Anat. Her approach was more fusion and was often found dancing at Ren Faires. She did not tie herself to just one style but, wanted to show others that there were many styles.
Tribal Style Bellydance: Tribal Belly Dance this is were it becomes tricky. First of all most of the Tribal dancers began dancing with Jamilah Salimpour, Masha Archer and Carolena. They all eventually branched out a created tribal belly dance but their own style. Tribal Belly Dance is a collection of ATS along with other forms. Tribal is more of a general term and quite alot can fall from it. Tribal is more relaxed and can very more of a anything goes. Tribal is a fusion of ATS but, it is not considered fusion. Tribal belly Dance still does go by some cues and may have some formations it is more about the look and feel. Tribal Style stems from ATS and alot of the Tribal Dancers such as Paulette Rees Denis started with ATS before coming up with her own style of Tribal Belly Dance known as Gypsy Caravan Style. The movement and vocabulary may be similar to ATS but in tribal you will see that it is different it comes about on technique and execution along with posture and placement being different as well as using both the right and left hip in tribal. If you take a ATS class and then a tribal class you will find it somewhat confusing as to the movements are similar but cues and posturing and even names are different. This can be very challenging to say the least. Music is different too. In tribal all different rhythms and timings are used such as very slow, slow medium, fast and very fast. In regards to Fat Chance they use slow or fast. In ATS it is very apparent that there are movement for fast music and slow music only which means you can not do a fast movement to a slow piece or vice versa. In Tribal the movement is based on the rt hymn and timing of music. Also know in FatChance Belly Dance the use of zills are a must as you will see in the video below.
Tribal Fusion: Tribal fusion can be choreographed or improv or have a mix of both. Tribal fusion can be done as a group or soloist. Tribal fusion is the most modern form very westernized. Tribal fusion came from ATS and Tribal Belly Dancers. Rachel Brice a tribal fusion dancer started out with Jamilah Salimpour and Carolena before coming up with her own format and style. It can involve Cabaret and American Night club dancing with other influences in the mix such as Indian, Flamanco and African Fusion as well as modern day dances. This is where hip hop falls into place as well as steam-punk and Gothic because it is fused with belly dance so its a fusion a collection of more then one dance form. Tribal fusion is general and a catch all this is why it becomes tricky and is not as defined.
Out of all of these you now have East Coast Tribal, Urban Tribal, Triberet, Combo based Tribal and Alternative Belly Dance or Alternative Tribal. Wow is your head spinning yet? I am not going to talk about any of these the 3 major important ones are up above. To make a long story short without ATS Fat Chance Belly Dance, Gypsy Caravan Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion would not be around. ATS is the root of all of these styles. You will see below how each one is very different and I hope you now have a better understanding of Tribal Belly Dance.
Here are a few videos below: Enjoy!