photo by York Wilson Photography

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


More about the YMCA Classes

  • What will I learn from this class?

    This class will cover the following elements of Tribal Style Bellydance:
    • Correct dance posture-- how to create a beautiful silhouette in your dance and prevent injury
    • Basic muscular isolations and movements universal to all styles of bellydance (e.g. chest and hip slides, undulations, shimmies, circles, vertical and horizontal figure 8s, et cetera)
    • ATS and Tribal Fusion moves and combinations incorporating the basic isolations, which can be translated directly to both solo and group improvisation
    • Cues and transitions for group improvisation
    • Drills and exercises to use for home practice

    In addition, information about the history and aesthetics of the dance form will be available on this website for students and non-students alike to read.
    Unfortunately, I cannot currently include zil instruction in the class, as I do not have zils for the students and the sessions are just too short (only an hour long). However, I would be happy to answer any questions students have about zilling, and students who have their own zills should feel free to bring them to class to use during drills.

  • What do I need to bring/wear to class?

    Please bring water, a pencil and a notebook for writing notes, and, if you like, a scarf or belt to wear around your hips. Please come to class dressed in comfortable clothing-- something you might wear to a yoga or pilates class. You may choose to bare your stomach or leave it covered up, whichever makes you feel more comfortable. Be ready to dance in bare feet-- if you'd rather not, then bring dance slippers or socks, but we will not dance in shoes. If you have zils, you may bring them to use during instruction time. If you have any other props you would like to learn to use (e.g. swords), I would be happy to schedule a private lesson or lessons with you to show you how to use it, or direct you a class specific to props, but we will not be using props during class time.

  • Will this class help me lose weight?

    If practiced every day for a sufficient amount of time, bellydance can be an effective way to tone muscle, and if combined with a nutritious and reasonable diet, may help some students lose weight. This class will be designed to give those students who would like to develop their skills outside of class some great ways to start. Realistically, no kind of dance will significantly contribute to weight loss if only practiced once a week for an hour (the length and frequency of our class).

    More importantly, bellydance is extremely body-positive and will help any participant develop strength, flexibility and grace and re-establish a relationship of respect with their body. People (both men and women) of all body types can participate in this dance form and be valued equally for their skills as a dancer. Bellydance has even been used to rehabilitate victims of sexual abuse and eating disorders by dance therapists, so consider how it could make you feel about your own body!

  • How is Tribal Style different than "normal" bellydance?

    The Tribal aesthetic as we know it today was pioneered by Jamila Salimpour and her troupe Bal Anat in the late 1960s and later brought together and re-imagined in the form of American Tribal Style by Carolina Nericchio and her troupe FatChanceBellyDance. Any audience member can typically immediately recognize the differences between the Tribal aesthetic and that of other bellydance styles. American Tribal Style dancers usually wear no seed beads or sequins in their costuming, preferring coins, tassels, textiles from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and heavy silver jewelry from various Asian and North African cultures as means of adornment. Many ATS dancers also wear full turbans covered in flowers, headdresses, and pendants.
    Costuming aesthetics are not the only way in which Tribal is different than Cabaret, Folkloric or Egyptian styles of bellydance. Tribal moves and combinations are designed to be used in a group of dancers for improvisation. Each dancer learns how to recognize what the leader of the group will do next based on both explicit cues (hand signals, etc), body language, and intuition. While these moves and combinations can be used for solo performances as well as choreography they were developed by groups such as FatChanceBellyDance and Gypsy Caravan with group improv in mind. Many people describe Tribal dancing as "earthy" or "grounded" because it is usually performed on flat feet rather than on the toes or in high heels and features fewer floaty-flirty movements.
    Many dancers do not adhere strictly to the conventions of American Tribal Style, performing an amalgam of that style with other forms of bellydance, as well as other regional styles, such as Indian Classical, Flamenco, and recently Thai and other East Asian dances. This dance form is usually known as Tribal Fusion or World Fusion bellydance. Usually, costuming in these styles is a more pared-down version of the ATS costume-- coin bra and pantaloons or flared pants with a mirror or textile work belt, no turban, less jewelry-- but sometimes is equally ornate in its own sense, as is The Indigo's costuming.

    For more information on the distinctions between different kinds of bellydance, you can read Shira's article at

  • What if I don't want to perform improv/do improv in class?

    Many people are intimidated by the idea of performing group or solo improvisation. Personally, I feel it is an invaluable skill for any dancer, regardless of style. All of the moves in the class are thus designed to be used in improv-- if you want. These moves could just as easily be incorporated into choreography.
    As for group improv in class, while I strongly suggest all students participate in order to broaden their horizons, it will not be required, per se. Students can feel free to follow along in the back of the room without coming forward to lead the others or leave class early.

  • I have already taken bellydance lessons. Will I get anything out of this class?

    It is my personal opinion that every student takes something new and different away from every teacher they study with. As have many teachers, I have developed my own format for this class, so that even students who have taken Tribal Style lessons from other teachers should be able to further refine their style and learn new variations on moves. I believe students of all levels can benefit from this class.

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