We didn’t abandon our blog! We’re just traveling and dancing so much that we didn’t have time to post our adventures, but we have a decent backlog of pictures and notes from all over Europe and you’ll get them now in more-or-less chronological order …. and just in time to bring your attention (and then yourself) to „Roma Tribal Meeting“ , here’s our impressions from the first edition – Meeting is the right name for this event, dancers from all over Europe, Tribal Bellydance and live music from the masters themselves The „Helm“ …
The Roma Tribal Meeting first registered on our radar in summer, and we were immediately interested. Sent our application, hoped and waited, and then the invitation came! Few weeks and one flight later, we were there – in the beautiful old city of Rome, meeting Tribal dancers from Italy, Europe and beyond.
We arrived on Thursday, which left us enough time to explore the city and get to know our hosts. Lorenza and Umberto made us feel like at home and took care of us and made sure we don’t get lost. Lorenza is a dancer with Da’ira Tribe at San Lo Studios, and Umberto is a drummer with the amazing Takadum Orchestra. The first lesson in Italian was the favourite nicknames of Tribal dancers – the older ones are called “Tribalone” and younger ones “Tribaline”!
The main show of the Meeting was on Friday evening, so we dedicated the day to getting friendly with Rome and went to see the sights. Afterwards, dead on our feet and full of impressions, we met everyone at the San Lo Studios to prepare for the Show. Wary looks and shy hellos soon turned into interesting conversations as we got to know dancers from all over Italy and Europe. After we were all pretty and dressed, we duck-marched through the streets of Rome to Locanda Atlantide, the show location not far from the studios. From outside it was hardly recognisable, only a metal door covered in posters, but inside was a real rock club with dark stage, huge wine kegs by the walls and a bar in the side room. The main organiser, Isabel de Lorenzo, welcomed us while the rehearsals were already running on the stage, and we met the rest of the performers. It was there that we experienced the first culture differences, like the fact that time is not so important in Italy and everyone is laid back and in no hurry. Audience area had free seating in the literal sense of taking a chair and setting it down somewhere in the room. All this added to a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The audience enthusiastically supported every performer, and the whole evening had a cool underground feel, thanks to the rock club location and also many gothic and contemporary fusions on the stage.
San Lo Studios is a FCBD Sister Studio and home of Carovana Tribal. Open, friendly and offering a wide selection of dance classes in three studios. Now it was buzzing with excitement as the dancers prepared …
It was hard to decide which workshops to take, because the topics were all interesting and we wanted to take all of them! First, we landed in “Improvisational Fusion” with Geneva Bybee. Her style uses a lot of hiphop and we learned short combinations which we used in ITS – Style improvisation with other workshop participants.
Next on our list were two parallel workshops – Ling Shien of Helm taught choreography to Helm’s music, accompanied by zills. “Tribal Dark Fusion” with Silviah focused on the dramatic dark side of bellydance.
Kimberly Mackoy showed us the basic movements of bellydance in a new light. Her “Anatomy and Elemental Movement” workshop focused on finding and using the right muscles, helped by visual examples and simple exercises. We highly recommend!
Sunday morning it was our turn to teach. Doro made everyone get in touch with the floor. We worked on fast and surprising or slow and graceful ways to get down to the floor and back up again.
Francesca Pedretti let us experience her “Emotional Tribal Bellydance” She created choreography on the spot, using the present dancers and space, encouraging us to dance and act out different moods. The goal was to send energy out towards the audience instead of keeping it inside the group as often happens in ITS. “Share the joy of your dance with your audience.”
Round Table Discussion was the best part of the event, and we would happily keep talking much longer. We met sitting in a circle and shared our thoughts and opinions about our dance styles and Tribal in general. The instructors and performers introduced themselves and shared their perceptions of Tribal. It was great to hear about everyone’s beginnings and various developments. Especially Ling Shien and Marc Bell of Helm who gave us a rare insight into the time when tribal was born.
One thought resonated through the whole discussion: Know and respect where your dance comes from.
Email Interview with Isabel:
How was your feeling after the event?
A very warm feeling: a comunity is born and will grow and keep working together . I am very happy and grateful to all artists and students and friends who were there and who accepted the idea of comunity proposed by the Roma Tribal Meeting.
Was everything like you imagined?
It was better than I imagined, because we couldn’t expect the beautiful atmosphere of happiness and friendship that grew during the event. It was in my mind, in my projects, in the way I created the format, but…you never know if people will catch it…and it worked!
Were there any surprises or unexpected situations? How did you deal with them?
The only unexpected thing that I didn’t like was that during the Open Stage the places filled soon and some people couldn’t get in. All the other surprises were artistic and positive.
How many people were part of the ‚Roma Tribal Meeting‘?
We had more than 35 artists and 80 students. It was perfect for the spaces involved : the San Lo‘ studio was always full but clean and comfortable; the Locanda Atlantide club fit the audience perfectly (150 people) and was cozy. These numbers seem perfect for an event that is not „commercial“ but at the same time needs to be „visible“ in the comunity. All the expenses have been paid and the studio can invest in something new for next year. It seem a good result.
Do you have plans for a next event?
I’m asking myself and my partners if the next Tribal Meeting will happen in Rome again or if it will travel… there are many possibilities in front of us.
Please tell us more about the Tribal Scene in Italy. What are the tendencies and influences?
Is contemporary dance a current influence in Tribal or a boom in the whole Italian dance scene?
Tribal scene is relatively recent in Italy. The pioneers of italian tribal are me and Carovana Tribale in Rome and Francesca Pedretti (and her former troupe Les Soeurs Tribales) in Milan – and we began in 2003. In the last three years the scene grew a lot, but, unfortunately, a big part of the dancers are just copying something else, and the audience just wants to see what is already known… On the other hand, luckily, there are dancers creating really new things in Tribal and in my opinion this happens when a dancer is „educated“, when she is connected to all forms of Art. And here the Contemporary is important! (as you could see in Francesca’s work, and as I do in some of my experimental works that I didn’t present in the Roma Meeting). At the same time, there are people doing Burlesque, Gothic, etc… Gypsy influences are very present, maybe because of Mediterranean influences, and Steampunk is mostly unknown but of course it will arrive soon.
What are other Tribal Events in Italy? (We only know about Gothla.it)
There’s no other big event focused on Tribal, just big bellydance festivals where they invite one or two Tribal stars… (Venice Convention, Riccione International Congress, Torino Bellydance Stars, Rome Marhaba Festival)
How is Tribal seen by the dance public and by the general public in Italy?
As a recent movement, Tribal is not very popular (you don’t see it in tv for example). But in the festivals it is very appreciated by the audience and I’m sure that in the future it will even change (I hope so) the bad fame of bellydance in general.
A big THANK YOU goes to Isabel and the organization team for the wonderful Meeting, and to Lorenza and Umberto for welcoming us at their home and their city!
Doro & Michaela