Tribal Style Bellydance was created in the 1970s in the USA, and blends various dances from the Orient, through North Africa, India, Spain all the way to the Balkans, with modern styles like Hiphop, Jazz and Contemporary. It is sometimes called ‘the dark side of bellydance’ and the Tribal dancers are the punkrockers of the bellydance world. Tribal Style Bellydance is a fusion of old and new, grounded in archetypal images and enriched by modern means of expression. The first performances of American Tribal Style (ATS) left everyone wondering what of this dance was actual folklore and what pure fantasy. This combination of fantastic and traditional gave birth to the many styles and forms of Tribal Bellydance. The movements, stylisations, music and costume are inspired by cultures of the whole world. Traditional music is used next to modern music. The ratio of tradition and fantasy changes accordingly, decided by the dance background and preferences of the dancers. The formations span from groups to solos. Tribal is a fluid and changing style, taking impulses from all sides and giving rise to new traditions, dialects and fusions. An underground Tribal scene emerged, a worldwide, tightly connected network of tribal dancers linked by their passion for this exceptional dance style. Ancient dance forms are being interpreted anew, merging styles and crossing boundaries.
Tribal Bellydance can be divided into two big streams: Improvisational Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion.
Improvisational Tribal groups are mostly organised as tribes, with their own various traditions created by the members. Imagine a group of dancers that travels the world, and spends time with various tribes and nations on each continent. They borrow something from each stop on their journey – a piece of jewellery, clothing, few steps of a folk dance, hairstyles, make-up, traditional gestures, a feeling of a community without borders. They could meet anywhere and spontaneously burst into a harmonious dance to any song or rhythm, using only body language and not needing any words. Several improvisational dance languages have been created and partially spread around the world, like American Tribal Style, Unmata ITS or the Austrian Wüstenrosen Style dialect. The essential characteristic is the synchronised group improvisation, as well as specific elements in the costume and make-up.
The basic Tribal costume consists of a coin bra, a choli (crop top), a skirt, turkish trousers and a belt or a hip scarf. It is a conglomeration of various influences, like Indian, African and Asian elements, European folk costumes and Indonesian jewellery.
How can you improvise in a group? The improvisational format is an alphabet of movements with constantly changing lead and formation, in which each movement begins with an assigned cue. With regular practice, the cues are recognized somatically, and a dance is created in the moment as a direct result of the interaction among dancers. Communication, awareness and attentiveness are the concepts of Tribal. A tribe is a group of strong, proud personalities brought together by their love for this earthy, mystical and powerful dance.
Tribal Fusion is the rebellious, curious child of Improvisational Tribal Style, thirsty for new knowledge and exciting experiences. It is willing to try out everything that looks interesting and receive inspiration from everywhere around, but still stays in view of its mother. As the name Fusion already reveals, various dance styles get blended in a new way in order to highlight each dancer’s personality. Tribal Fusion often is a solo dance, although there are quite a few duos or groups who mostly choreograph their pieces. The fusion styles in demand are for example Indian Fusion, Contemporary Fusion, Dark Fusion and Burlesque Fusion. Tribal Fusion is a rapidly developing young dance form that does not like rigid rules. Similar to all contemporary art forms Fusion is resistant to final definitions and looks different each time, depending on the choreographers and their dance background.
Tribal Bellydance is a cardio workout, a strength, flexibility and coordination training packaged in an elegant, mystical dance. It awakens the body center and stirs up the energy flow, improving self-confidence and assertiveness in tune with body and soul. The movements originate in the core, stomach and pelvic floor become stronger and the body posture improves. Typical for Tribal Style is the isolated movement initiation; improved body awareness and balance enables the dancer to control the expression of the dance – round and flowing or rhythmic and precise. As an ideal counterbalance to everyday activities, we purposefully activate and train the whole body, especially muscles that normally aren’t used very often. Improvement in posture and body awareness can be seen already after the first few classes. The whole body is involved in strengthening, stretching and sensing while we create a wonderful elegant feminine movement with beautiful curves and lines. On top of all that, it’s also a lot of fun! Students sometimes catch themselves practicing shimmies while cleaning their teeth, correcting their posture while sitting in the metro, or busting out a few bellyrolls while they’re in the changing room on a shopping trip!