taste of tribal for a local studio show

The local dance studio where I teach a morning Bellydance Basics class is having a Holiday show and invited me to perform. Solos are great but I want to showcase my students so I’m bringing four of my advanced dancers along for the fun. It’s December, so of course the show is “Nutcracker” and we’re to be the “Arabian Nights” dream element. After considering our repertoire I settled on doing a Tribal Odyssey number because we can start slow and dreamy with veils, then discard them and continue with finger cymbals for excitement. This seems like the best use of our short time slot, rather than doing one of our choreographed routines.

The song we’re using is “Aphrodite’s Mysteries” from Dolphina’s Goddess Workout cd.  We usually use this song for a short and easy Veil Dance; but for this performance of TOBD it’s perfect because it starts slowly and quietly, then builds throughout the song to a faster tempo at the end. It also features the wonderful John Bilezikjian on oud, so what could be better!

I love dancing with my performers, and I’m glad we’re doing Tribal for this appearance. Doing Tribal Improv feels so different than doing group choreography. I’ve been in a lot of shows and a lot of group numbers – too many to count; first with Topkapi Troupe, then my own troupe Pearls of Rhythm. I always enjoyed the group numbers, but the feeling I get with tribal improv is different.

Group choreographies always feel like a “job of work” to be done: if the number goes well, that’s great; if not, we have a story to tell and things to work. But with tribal bellydance – and I mean “group improv” – there’s a feeling of FUN… almost like you’re in a performing game. It’s hard to describe exactly. Each performance is different and you never really know what’s going to happen. There are times we wish the performance had gone differently, and there are plenty of times one or more of us (myself included!) makes a mistake in cueing, timing, or whatever. But I love the fact that when we dance together, we’re all creating a unique performance on the spot, and it will never be the same again. Like shaking a kaleidoscope – always different, always pretty, and always “perfect” in the moment.


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