Archive for veil dancing

spending summer dancing

We’ve been dancing all summer, what could be better!

In mid-summer we enjoyed participating with many beautiful guest dancers in a show all about VEIL DANCING, called “Reflections on the Veil“. It was amazing to witness each dancer’s gift of vision. Of course we offered our own group veil improv as well.

group improv with veils

Tribal Veil trio onstage at Reflections

I’ve also been incorporating Tribal Veil into class and the results are good – even for beginning dancers. It gives new dancers something to hold on to, and they love watching themselves in the mirror, swooping these large pieces of fabric through the air. Who doesn’t love veil dancing? Veils are iconic for bellydancers, and they’re a great workout too.

At Pennsic this year my student Siyala and I danced with Rajni and Jackie from Georgia, our dance sisters whom we see so rarely. We all were more than thrilled to have live drumming for our spot at the Middle Eastern Dance Expo; a sweet percussion band made up of our wonderful Orluk mates and guests. They were able to give us a dynamic range of tempos for our group improv set. Hooray Orluk!

dancers in garb at pennsic

backstage at the Expo!

Immediately after getting back from Pennsic, we were excited to dance at Tribal Cafe in Richmond, sponsored by the Bandit Queens. We did another tempo-dynamic set that was extra fun for me because the song begins with karkabas! I’m talking about “Sahara Caravan” by the Desert Knights. Very cool! Tribal Cafe was a lot of fun for so early in the morning! I hope to do it again sometime, we met great folks.

dancers onstage

Nandana, Lisa from NC, Shari Apple, and us after the show; lovely photo courtesy of Providence & Sterling

Then we were absolutely thrilled to be invited to “Tummy Tuesday”, a monthly hafla in Richmond. I LOVE Richmond dancers, they’re so friendly! The space was challenging but my dancers did amazingly well, I’m very pleased with their aplomb! We had a great time doing veil again, and of course finger cymbals. Good times!

dancers in beledi dresses

yes, we’re beledi tribal!

We have a few things coming up right here in town that should be fun too; what a great way to spend a summer – dancing!

Tribal on, dancers!
by Anthea (Kawakib)

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tribal gives us music freedom!

One of the BEST things about Tribal Improv belly dancing is you can change the music whenever you want! Sometimes my students bring me songs to check out so we get a wide variety of styles that way. And I often ask my students what songs they want to use in a show. Not possible with choreography! If you perform a choreographed piece, you’re obviously “stuck” using that music.
So I’m enjoying picking the music for our upcoming show. We’re bringing back “Love Signs” by DJ Dimi, a really lovely song that’s going to be perfect for Tribal Veil and Arm Patterns because it’s a medium tempo:  Love Signs on (Ai-De-Xin-Hao), from the Zen Lounge cd.

This song has a good beat, and the melody flows like a river… so pretty! I’m looking forward to dancing to it again.

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not like we planned it, but just as good!

Mixed levels! Always a challenge, and only more so in a performance, when “stuff happens” and everyone’s excitement level is already high. We had the unexpected happen onstage recently, but my students rocked it anyway!

For our annual Recital, I planned to have all the students onstage dancing during our four-song Tribal Odyssey set (all music from Tribal Soup); this included levels 1 – 4, because there were only about a dozen dancers performing in the show.

The “plan” – and we know how antithetical “planning” is for group improv: it always proves true that the more a set is “planned”, the harder it is to dance in the moment. But anyway, the plan was that we’d have two Tribal Veil trios begin our set, with the rest of the crew coming out into a Chorus Line, ready for the next song. However, the best laid plans…!

I first noticed something awry from my post at the sound system when only a couple of Veil dancers came out – and no one else. I went backstage since I was joining them anyway, and found out what was happening: one of the first Trio dancers couldn’t get changed quickly enough, and was still in the dressing room.

So now we had a Tribal Veil duet dancing onstage all by their lonesome. This unexpected glitch (what other kind is there?) was casting some students into a frazzle, since it upset “the plan”. Oh well, what is it they say about the best-laid plans? Oh yeah – they don’t work so well with Tribal Improv!!

I quickly shooed everyone else out onstage to quiet them and continue the set; our struggling dancer came out of the dressing room and joined the next Veil trio. We resumed our Tribal set after this little hiccup and from the audience side I’m sure it looked fine – even if the entrance of the rest us was a bit out of place in the middle of the song. Whatever! Let’s just get onstage and get it on!

So it turns out we had a lovely Veil Duet, then an awesome Veil Quartet – it was great! I had a good time because I always enjoy dancing with the others, and it’ll be interesting to see the video! But meanwhile, the photos are looking gorgeous so far! Here are a couple:

tribal veil dancer

Galiyah leads the duet onstage

tribal dancers

…and the Veil quartet dances too

Have you had Tribal Improv plans go awry? Tell me in the Comments!

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Tribal Veils in action!

You would not believe (unless you’re a bellydancer!) what a workout you get by dancing with a veil! Especially in a group, doing follow-the-leader! Not only is it challenging to keep up with the leader, but when YOU are the leader you better be on your toes, so to speak… those veils are always moving.

Unlike other types of tribal improv combinations, veil dancing has practically no “resting” combos. It’s go, go, go, all the time to keep those veils flowing. Maybe I should’ve added some “veil pose” combinations where we could catch our breath! Well, that’s something to think about for the future. For now, we’re all getting our arms toned by practising the veil combos for our annual recital at the end of the month. The advanced dancers will be leading the whole group onstage during our Tribal Veil song, to dance with veils downstage while the rest of the group is in a Chorus Line upstage. It’s fun having a large mixed-level group onstage together!

Meanwhile anyone who wants a challenge can add these Tribal Veil moves to their troupe repertoire by following this Playlist on my YouTube channel.

Here are some photos from past shows with Tribal Veil dancing:


Dancing with purple veil!

veil dancer

Veil Toss!


Tribal at First Night!

veil dancers

Street Tribal!

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six Veil Combos for Tribal Improv

Yes I was hot, yes I was sweaty, but I did it anyway! The Veil Combinations are on video ready for viewing on my YouTube channel Dance Eternal.

Veil dancing is harder than it looks, as anyone who’s ever done it knows! I have a very particular technique for holding and handling the veil, and anyone who follows my method achieves success, while those who stray from the path soon find themselves fighting with their veil! I’m just sayin’…

tribal veil dancing

Anthea’s veil magic in action!

That photo’s a great shot of my “veil hold”, with finger cymbals at the ready. I’m using a large two-tone veil, slightly rounded at the bottom edges and trimmed with gold ribbon.

What type of veil to use really makes a difference. In Oriental dancing we use all different shapes, sizes, and fabrics for veil dancing; and the type of fabric, the size and shape, and any decorations like trim or sequins, all change how the veil moves.

For these group improv combos though, we needed a veil sturdy enough for constant use. I’ve also always loved the way circular or half-circle veils move. I finally found the perfect veil, and it even works well in a light breeze! The Tribal Veil combos are developed especially for this particular fabric weight, shape, and style of veil. Some of my students have made their own veil complete with the trimmed edges, but most of us get our tribal veils from Ganesha Bazaar. Both the large and small size works and we’ve used both. Usually we use the larger size, and save the smaller ones for tight performance spaces.

I’m sure the Veil Combos can be done just fine with other types of veils, I’ve just never tried it. With all the costume layers of skirts, sleeves, tassels, plus big flowery hairdids and whatnot that us tribal dancers like to use in our costumes, I want to stick with what works!

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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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how we arranged our bellydance demo for the bridal store

At our “Bridal Bellydance Party” demo in Fredericksburg Saturday, it was one of those “we’ll figure it out when we get there” situations, where you walk into your venue and decide how to do your show based on the performance space. I’m very fortunate my PRISM Dancers trust me enough to go with the flow and not freak out if everything isn’t planned down to the last detail in advance! Because when you do a wide variety of gigs, you know that’s not always possible…

Anyway this grand opening for Simply Modern Bridal turned out to be in a very elegantly decorated storefront shaped as a very long rectangle. There was a small open space right inside the front doors; and near the fitting rooms was another open space that also had couches, tables, a fitting pedestal, and accent rugs. Filling the store were lovely displays of jewelry, dresses for the entire bridal party, mannequins with gorgeous gowns; plus a couple of tables with a large selection of catered treats for the grand opening celebration! So, performing space was a little tight for a group of dancers – you know how it is!

bellydance group

“fancy class wear” (except for soloist)

We opened our demo with a Veil Dance solo by one of our newer performers, and she did SUPER – had lovely stage presence and adapted her choreography very well to the small space in front. We’d originally planned to Chorus Line behind her, but that wouldn’t have worked in the space so we joined the onlookers.

Next we went into “how to bellydance” mode, as my dancers each invited someone to join them in open dancing, showing them basic moves and steps. My students learn this “homestyle dancing” so they can participate at bellydance haflas and parties, wherever open dancing might happen. This rather seamlessly evolved into us doing Tribal Odyssey duets and trios in various places around the store. I sort of floated around joining in here and there, changing partners, and making sure the onlookers who wanted to dance had someone to dance with.

Two songs of this and we were done (three, counting the Veil soloist). I think going shorter than longer is always a good idea! We were able to give a quick and fun demonstration of bellydancing and show it is for “regular people” of all ages – just great family entertainment!

We’re so greatful to Simply Modern Bridal for inviting us to participate in their grand opening; as well as the VA Wedding Event network for all their hard work!

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