Archive for other costuming

we wear what we want!

In my last post “the ‘whatever’ look in costuming“, I wondered what my performing group would look like for our Tribal number at the end of our New Year’s Eve show, since we wouldn’t be changing into special costumes. I figured we could do without full skirts, and just skip our Skirt Moves during this one 7-minute song (Sandstorm by Farzad Farhangi). So here we are:

bellydancers in different costumes

after our show for Fredericksburg First Night

That’s what we wore for our Tribal number – we’re wearing the costumes from the choreographies we performed (sword, veil, cane, and candles). This is the first time we’ve ever done TOBD without changing into specific costuming – obviously, “Tribal” is not defined by what you wear, but HOW YOU DANCE with your group, right? I’ll be adding this photo to the new collection I started on Pinterest that show different costumes we’ve worn: Tribal Costuming.

I know the ATS® people consider their costuming to be part of the definition of their style of Tribal Bellydance, but after our personal explorations in costuming this past year (see this post), I no longer agree with that narrow definition. What do you think?

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out of the box and loving it!

Our June events around town rocked! I love how TOBD is proving to be so versatile, so easy to adapt to fit our needs. I guess I just love it’s USABILITY!

Once I realized we’re not locked into always looking “Tribal” and don’t always have to use our typical tribal music, my eyes really opened to the possibilities. I guess that’s funny coming from me since it’s my baby – you’d think I’d know TOBD inside and out – but I guess I had to see it with new eyes, so to speak.

During my solo career I danced at hundreds of parties – in homes, offices, various workplaces, event halls, pool parties, nightclubs, you name it. I know how to work an event, deal with pretty much any performance space, no matter how the audience is arranged or how the space is set up. As a soloist you learn to walk into a place, evaluate it quickly and decide how best to showcase your performance. What invaluable experience!

For our short 3-song set at the Bridal Show hosted by the FXBG & Stafford Wedding & Event Pros our quartet entered with Tribal Veil:

group improv veil dancing

veil spins

So here we are doing tribal improv, looking very “cabaret-flavor”… dancing with veils to a shortened version of Ragheb Alama’s Saharony Ellil. Next we banged out some cymbal action to Nancy Ajram’s Baddala Aleik, also taking turns at with solo improv during the taqsim of this lovely song. Finally, pulling out the old favorite Habibi Ya Albi by Ihab Tawfik, we went out for audience participation. That song is gold and had the expected effect on certain folk in our audience who couldn’t resist dancing and even singing along. Yes, the PRISM Dancers know how to work it!

One of the hosts of the event graciously invited me to share a demo at the group’s next networking event in Fredericksburg. PRISM has done bridal showers in the past and we know it’s a great alternative to the stripclub scene. Having a “how to bellydance” party for the bride and her friends is appropriate for all ages – it’s just good, clean fun! So three of us PRISM Dancers put on our basic dance class wear, with a few extra sparklies on top. We used the long fringe skirts to tie our look together:

a "how to bellydance" party demo

fringe skirts over class wear

We only did two song’s worth of dancing for the demo. The first number let us dance together as a tribal trio, then we each went out among the audience, having a lot of fun with the brave participants, then we returned to our TOBD trio to finish the song.  We used one of our favorite swing electronica songs, Come Dance With Me (Shirley Horn/Sugardaddy remix). For the “how to” part of the demo we used Solace’s Beledi Drum (from Rhythms of the Dance), inviting audience members up to join us – including one sweet little girl! It was a blast!

What I love about my PRISM Dancers is that they’re game for new adventures, and go with the flow. They keep it happy and share the joy. All this and TOBD too – what a blessing!

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which music genres are okay for tribal?

When I began creating Tribal Odyssey ITS over ten years ago, I made a big decision regarding the type of music we would use in performance. Our musical path is starting to evolve now in ways I didn’t foresee.

In our first ten years we almost always chose American bellydance music; Miramar (TOBD co-creator in Winchester VA) often used Alan Bachman and Desert Wind; I favored the music of the Desert Knights and Dolphina’s Workout CD. We used other American bands like Helm and Sirocco too, but not often. I didn’t like to because I felt (as a folkloric dancer myself) that if we used music that sounded so traditional, village-y and obviously NON-American, audiences would easily confuse our dancing with authentic Middle Eastern folkloric dance.

As an educator in the field of Middle Eastern and American bellydance, the last thing I wanted to do was cause confusion if I could help it, so that explains my decision about music. This was directly opposite to what the “root troupe” of the tribal tree, FatChanceBellyDance®, was doing. They did – and still do – often use Egyptian village music (the same music used for folkloric dancing), or American bands that sound folkloric, like Helm and Sirocco. Different strokes for different folks.

From time to time we’ve explored other genres to keep our performances fresh. We’ve used tracks from the famous Putomayo World Fusion compilations – Asian Lounge, Arabic Groove, Sahara Lounge; we’ve even used American club favorites like Abba, Black Eyed Peas, Pink, Parliament Funkadelic, even Billy Idol.  I also have a taste for techno and trance and have composed electronica myself; those tracks come in useful when videotaping – no copyright worries on YouTube!

WARNING: Tribal Shocker

So it shouldn’t be a shock – although I’m still getting used to this idea myself – that we can use modern Arabic pop for ITS. No one can mistake it for folkloric dancing, I’m sure! So I’m looking through my Arabic “party music” for steady, medium tempo songs for us to dance to, and here’s another shocker – we’re going cabaret!

No, just kidding. Actually I’m not though, here’s what I mean: although I love my tribal gear, and do have some shimmery, glamorous tribal ensembles of  tie-tops and full skirts (thank you, India), most of my dancers’ tribal costumes have the heavy cotton/rayon look. Next week we’re scheduled to do a demo performance at an upscale Bridal Show, and we’ll be immersed in the shiny, sequined milieu of the Bridal world. I want our look to fit in so I made a judgement call: we’re wearing glitzy bellydance dresses! And playing cymbals, and dancing  “tribal” together.

Yes, it’s quite a shocker. But really, anyone who’s been in my bellydance community for a while knows I explore new ideas and concepts frequently, and am not afraid of trying new things. I think Tribal Odyssey itself is proof of that!

And, as I’ve told my students: tribal is to serve US, not the other way around. So we’re adapting our look to fit the venue; that doesn’t mean we’re throwing out our earthy costume looks – not at all. But in this context, it behooves us to “glitz it up”.

I’m actually excited and looking forward to “tribal in cabaret” so to speak! And of course, can’t wait to see the pictures…

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