A Brief Tribal History
There are now many forms of Tribal Belly dance and many names and tribes associated with it, Carolina Nericcio, Paulette Rees Denis, Fat Chance, Gypsy Caravan, Black Sheep, Domba to name but a few. These teachers and their tribes tend to be classed American Tribal Style belly dance (ATS) and the originator of this style traces back to the 1950’s to a Jamilia Salimpour originally a circus performer in the United States and married to a Persian tabla player. She developed as her own unique techniques and a systematic breakdown of belly dance moves.
Moves such as the Turkish, Basic Arabic and Maya are all terms, which she coined and are terms/moves used in Tribal belly dance today
From ATS other Tribal Style/Fusion forms of belly dance have emerged one of the more famous being the Indigo dance troupe with Rachel Brice and Sharon Kihara. The nature of belly dance is changing all the time with new influences from all over the globe. Never before has belly dance in the West been so popular and is being brought into our homes by chart performers such as Shakira and Beyonce, using their own style of belly dance.
Tribal or Cabaret
Tribal belly dance is a very grounded earthy style form of belly dance and is performed by groups of women or tribes. Each member of the tribe wears similar costumes; they are collections of both new and old costuming/jewellery, a lot of which comes from the nomadic tribes of Afghanistan and surrounding areas. There is no sparkle, sequins, chiffon or man made materials as in cabaret style belly dance but a strong focus on earth colours and natural fibres, shell, metal, wood, wool and glass. In cabaret style belly dance the dance is very much geared to solo performers, whereas tribal style is all about the group, the group performance, the tribe. There is no one person in the group that should stand out from the other members; they work as a team, as a tribe.
Tribal style is not choreographed, it is improvised, the person who initiates the moves for the rest of the tribe to follow is usually placed at the front and to the left of the performers so all members of the tribe can see her clearly. The unspoken language that is used to tell the tribe what move to make are called cues, each tribe invariably have their own cues but there are international cues that most tribal dancers know. This enables tribal dancers from all over the world to come together and dance as one.
Belly dance whatever its style has to be one of the oldest forms of dance known to man and is depicted as far back as 3000BC in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Although always alive in the middle east, belly dance has been lying somewhat dormant over here in western society but it has surfaced once again and is now evolving, moving quickly and once again has become fore front in modern day dance.