photo by York Wilson Photography

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Links of the Week, March 21

History and Culture
Jas' Middle Eastern Rhythms Page This site is extremely informative and an excellent resource for anyone who would like to learn about traditional Middle Eastern rhythms. It's presented in a Q and A format. You may want to read all of the questions from the beginning, but if you want to get right into the rhythms section, scroll down to the "So I want to learn some rhythms, where do we start?" question. The most helpful thing about this site is that for those of us who can't read ME drumming notation (which is not the same as sheet music), audio files are provided so that you can hear all of the different rhythms. Many of the rhythms include both simple and complex variations for you to listen to. (so cool!!) For anyone interested in pursuing bellydance, rhythm knowledge is an invaluable skill, and the earlier you start listening to the different rhythms the better!

Troupes and Performers
Rachel Brice and the Indigo The Indigo, directed by Rachel Brice, is a tribal fusion troupe which tours the US as part of the Bellydance Superstars, which is currently the most successful professional bellydance company in the world. While the bellydance community has mixed feelings regarding the Superstars-- some people feel it's too commercial, or not an accurate representation of the dance form-- no one can deny that Rachel and her troupe are all excellent dancers, and their performance style is a huge influence on the tribal dance scene as a whole. I have met Rachel in person, and in addition to being an amazing performer, she is unbelievably sweet and a great source of positive energy.

Devyani Dance Company Devyani is a pure American Tribal Style troupe based in Birmingham, Alabama. Their director, Megha Gavin, is a protege of Carolena Nericchio, the 'mother' of American Tribal Style. I absolutely love watching Devyani perform because they really exemplify the beauty and power of this dance form. Their site features videos of their recent performances with examples of both group improv and tribal style choreography.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Links of the Week, March 14

History and Culture
The Many Faces of Tribal Belly Dance by Sharon Moore
This is not an article but rather a sort of online presentation. While it's still under construction, it provides concise and accurate information about the different traditional dances from around the world that influence tribal bellydance.

Troupes and Performers
Awalim Dance Company Awalim, directed by Z'iah Ali, is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Awalim is noteworthy for their beautiful choreographies and the skill of their dancers both as part of the troupe and as soloists. Their style is a great example of what many people refer to as "East Coast Tribal", which, in contrast to "pure" American Tribal Style, places a greater emphasis on choreography while still maintaining most of the other Tribal Style aesthetic elements. Awalim and Z'iah recently were the hosts of TribalCon 2006, which is quickly growing to be one of the most popular Tribal events on the East Coast.

Sashi Sashi is the reason I bellydance! Once I saw her very first performance with Blue Moon I knew I had to start taking classes myself. She is an inspiration to me. She's also the most awesome mom in the world! Sashi teaches class in both Cary and Chapel Hill throughout the week and performs regularly as a member of Blue Moon. She also vends all kinds of different bellydance necessities as Blue Fusion Inc.
Nandana Nandana, also a principal member of Blue Moon Dance Company, was my first bellydance instructor, and I still take classes from her fairly often. Her instruction has been a huge influence on my personal style. She teaches all over the Triangle area. Any student really interested in developing their Tribal technique should look in to taking her intermediate level classes once they have the prerequisite experience. Nandana also vends beautiful costumes and tribal jewelry, which are available on her site and at various regional events.
Sashi and Nandana also teach basic level classes as a team on Monday nights and basic level two/advanced beginner classes on Wednesday nights at the Cary YMCA.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Dancing while blind

Yesterday I performed at a student hafla in Raleigh. This being a relatively low-key performance for me, I didn't look in a mirror to check my makeup before going onstage. I was wearing my glasses to see the performances before our class (Nandana's intermediate skirt choreography class <3) went on, and, of course, I forgot to remove them. (Major faux pas.) I didn't even realize they were still on my face until I looked out at the audience (all of 10 feet away from us) and thought, "Wow, I can see everyone really well! OH CRAP! MY GLASSES!" Actually, it felt great. I could really connect with the audience and see how they were responding to the dance in a way I haven't been able to for a while.
I don't wear contacts because I am afraid of sticking something in my eye. (I know, how childish.) My vision without glasses is bad but not awful, but I think it's enough to detract from my performances and it seems to be getting worse over time. At TribalCon, I couldn't see faces in the audience at all. While performing, I concentrate almost entirely on the music and so it's hard for me to hear verbal feedback from the audience unless everyone is yelling at once, so without faces on your audience it's hard not to wonder "am I doing okay? I can't tell!" I took my glasses off in my car before my first class at the YMCA last week and I couldn't see the faces of my students in the second row! I thought one student was glaring at me a few times, and she wasn't. How embarrassing. I won't do that again.
I'm sure some people would rather not see their audience so they can 'trance out' as they dance-- I guess these dancers are more internal than I am. I think my visual alienation from the audience translates into unease which then translates into nervousness (also known as the LAST thing you want to project to your audience). An audience member at TribalCon told me I looked nervous. (nooo!) I'm sure I did, because I was totally disoriented!! No contacts no glasses might work at Blue Moon haflas at the Solution Center where my audience is a yard away from me, but it's not cutting it anymore for stage shows. So, I guess, in addition to all of the multiple hundreds of dollars I've been spending on costumes, music, instruction, and transportation lately, I need to get myself some contacts to stick in my eyes.
Oh, how we suffer for our art.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Links of the Week, March 7

For each coming week I will try to provide a link to a site about bellydance history, and links to sites for both well-known and slightly lesser-known performers and troupes. I am doing this as a learning resource for my students, as well as any other visitors to the site. If you have a link you think would be appropriate to feature, please email me! (

History and Culture
"A History of American Tribal Style BellyDance", written by Rina Orellana Rall, former co-director of FatChance BellyDance
This article discusses the history of bellydance in the United States and the evolution of American Tribal Style in a respectful and accurate manner. A great place to start for anyone interested in the dance and its origins.

Troupes and Performers
Gypsy Caravan One of the oldest and best-known Tribal troupes in the US, Gypsy Caravan is directed by Paulette Rees-Denis, whose blog you can also read on The Gypsy Caravan musicians are amazing, and their CDs are probably my favorite out of my entire bellydance music collection.

Mandara A world fusion dance troupe based out of southwestern Virginia, Mandara is directed by Jennifer Spieden, who, in addition to being an excellent dancer and teacher, is also one of the kindest people I know in the East Coast dance community. Mandara and Jennifer were recently featured instructors and perfomers at TribalCon 2006 in Atlanta.


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