does Tribal serve you?

Every so often, when my performing group PRISM is planning a show, we’ll use Tribal Odyssey in a slightly different way than usual; we’ll deviate from the standard format to better serve our performance needs for that particular show.

For instance, to make our performances flow better, or because we have limited number of dancers, or a limited time to change costume we’ve done things like:

  • enter with the Tribal Veil Walk (seen in this video on youtube) instead of having the Veil Dancers come out from the Chorus Line as usual;
  • or we may already be dancing onstage and have a couple of dancers go pick up Veils from the wings to immediately go out as Center Veil Dancers, instead of coming out of the Chorus Line with the veils already tucked into their belts;
  • or we might begin our Tribal Odyssey set with a Center Duet while the other dancers put on their cymbals, adjust or even change costume and then join us as we’re already dancing onstage;
  • or we might have Duets or Trios dancing at the same time in separate places (if it’s a large room or outdoor space), with no Chorus Line at all;
  • or we use the Chorus Line as a background for a choreographed solo.

My point is that this group improv format is made to serve us – we’re not made to serve the format.

The rules are there to help the dancers know how it works – what the “default mode” is. This should be followed closely while students learn, when they’re dancing in class, or when they first join in performances.

But once these rules are ingrained in our brains and we can easily fall back on them when in doubt, then we should be able to adapt the format (and bend some rules) to make performances easier for us.

Don’t be a slave to the dance, whether it’s ITS, ATS, or choreography!

(End of Post)




  1. This is so true! We would break from ATS standard formats in To the Earth performances for the same reasons.

    Of course, for us, that eventually turned into a much more theatrical/storytelling approach.

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