Back to Bangor means back to dancing. Back to dancing means back to Bangor Belly Dancers 😛 Or Al Bahiyya, as I want to make our performance name! This semester I am teaching a Tribal Fusion style dance. Fusion with what? I’m totally sure to be honest! I don’t give too much away to those not in the class…I want to save the surprise for our performance…but I did just want to explore Tribal Fusion slightly.
Tribal Fusion evolved from American Tribal Style in about 2000. It seems to incorporate anything from traditional Raqs Sharqi, through Egyptian Belly Dance, into Flamenco and evening straying into Hip Hop and Popping! Basically, anything goes! The underlying idea though is that of folklore and community, hence ‘tribal’. The moves can be quite ‘back to nature’ or primitive. This is enhanced by the use of a mix of less traditional music with Classical and electronic.
Throughout its evolution the basic idea behind it has not changed, even if the execution has. Costuming too has progressed from the original ATS costumes with turbans, full skirts, tassels and choli tops; to a sleeker look consisting of smooth headscarves, harem pants and coin bras and belts. But then, not long after, the trend reverted to the big flamenco skirts, lots of layers of fabric, flowers, scarves, heavy coins and big hair! It does depend on the ‘fusion’ itself…i.e. flamenco tribal uses flamenco skirts, and burlesque has feathers.
For me, I really discovered Tribal in one form or another when my Mum went to Manchester for a workshop with the BellyDance Superstars and saw Rachel Brice and Sharon Kihara perform. I then watched videos of them on Youtube and wanted to know more. Although, if I’m honest, initially it was the costumes that had me 😛 Something about them appeared less ‘cabaret’ than many I had seen in recent years and I liked the eclectic mix. My costumes started to acknowledge the ethnic accessories, the layered skirts, and the many scarves…I even started making headdresses and turbans (fairly unsuccessfully).
Then, last Summer I had the chance to go to a Tribal Fusion workshop in North Wales. It was the first real chance I had to learn what it was all about. The basic arm positions, the changed posture, and the extreme control you need to have over your body. I always thought I had good core strength, then I tried this! Every muscle works all the time, usually to keep one part completely still whilst something else is moving. There was also the idea of ‘feeling’ and ‘being’ the dance. Finding a theme that the music tells you, and then losing yourself in the music. This is the atmosphere that I had always noticed in Tribal Dance but didn’t know how to achieve.
So, this workshop heightened my interest in the different styles emerging in the world of Belly Dancing, and made me want to explore it further. I do not profess to be an expert….far from it! But, I have taken on board all the things I have learnt from the workshop, from videos and from various blogs…and have tried to encapsulate all this in a piece that I am very excited to be teaching this semester! It is very likely that after I graduate, Belly Dancing will disappear from Bangor Uni, and my teaching may well stop, so I wanted to make this amazing. Now all I have to do is pass this passion and enthusiasm onto my dancers 🙂 Good luck girls 😛
“It is not the movements that make a dance beautiful, it is the emotions that inspired the movements that make it beautiful.” ~Kristy Nilsson