Archive for videos

Skirt Flare-kick step breakdown

Step Right, step Left, repeat.

Here’s a quick video clip on the “Flare-kick” skirt combination from the Tribal Skirt online course. The full tutorial goes into more detail but this should be enough to get the gist of the 16-count sequence.

Teaching this particular skirt combo is always an adventure. With only two steps in 8 counts, that leaves 6 whole counts where students are going, “huh?!” Of course, ANY combination that includes facing away from the instructor is a challenge in class because students continuously try to “check in” while dancing – which is why I often sit down and watch. At some point you have to cut the cord and see what happens!

So here it is for you to try on your own – can you get it?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the simplest combos are the trickiest?

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investing time in dance drills

Small drills pay off big later

but how do you find the time?

In a recent show my advanced dancers and I were in the middle of a Tribal Odyssey set when somebody cued the Flare-Kick combo while we were in a circle. My be-here-now focus must’ve been off by a beat or two because I missed the cue and never did catch up. Naturally this particular combination is an extra-long 16 counts, and involves turns and eye-catching arm moves – plenty of time for the audience to notice any irregularities! Oh well.

Wouldn’t you think that several years after creating the combination and plenty of time spent teaching and dancing it, I’d be bullet-proof in terms of boo-boos? Not so much.

So I featured this long but simple combo in drills of the smallest bite-size chunks in class this week, and will continue to do so. My dancers actually love drills, and they’re quick to point out we have so many combos now that getting them all into drills on a consistent basis is hard with such limited class and rehearsal time.

How do you handle drills for a large repertoire of “group choreography” combinations? Do you have any pointers? Is is just that we need another hour or two a week? That solution seems unlikely.

I previously wrote about our Skirt Moves here: we got skirts and we know how to use them a title that seems ironic now! I think we’ll know how to use them better if we continue our Skill Drills!

two dancers

that’s me behind Galiyah, trying to keep up!

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easiest way to learn finger cymbals in tribal improv

I’m a very linear thinker in some ways, but in others, totally holistic. Every now and then these two tendencies cross, and one takes precedence… I’m a pisces, so that’s my excuse!

Recently I was thinking about this as it pertains to playing cymbals in Tribal Odyssey Bellydance versus Oriental style, also known as Raks Sharki, nightclub, or cabaret bellydance.

The videos I put online a couple of years ago (the ones in the free playlist on “how to play finger cymbals”) follow the linear method, starting at the baseline and working up little by little. BUT, in TOBD we learn by doing – a very different method. I think it’s more fun, and actually much easier!

Whenever my newer dancers put on finger cymbals for the first time, they can just dance along as usual, without playing. Since they’ve already been dancing our format for at least 6 months by this point, they have developed muscle memory. Another plus is that they may have been hearing cymbals playing while they danced if other more advanced dancers are with us (or even just me).

When they’re comfortable with how the cymbals feel on their hands, they can start adding the “Muted Beledi Accents” on the two slow combos, Small Hip Circle and Reverse Flat-8. That is plenty to do right there. And of course, whenever they lead the group they don’t have to play their cymbals. It’s much more important for them to do the movements correctly so we can follow them easily. So the rest of us (or just me) can keep playing cymbals while they lead.

It’s a FABULOUS way to learn finger cymbals! As their playing skills grow, and they’re able to play and dance at the same time, we add other cymbal patterns, usually the Singles on the Large Hip Circle; and the 2-2-5 on the Back Undulation and Rolling Hips. It really works well!

screenshot of video

follow-me drills

Another plus is that the cymbal patterns help anchor the movements in time, hooking the combinations onto the beat. Especially the patterns that actually start on count one, with the combo – kind of hard to explain unless you do group improv. But what this does, is make it easier for people who have trouble hearing the beat in music, or don’t understand counting time, to grasp what this means, and what it feels like. I think it makes a big, big difference!

I’ve added a Drill Video on my channel for new finger cymbal players here. It’s taken from behind us as we dance so you can follow along; and just listen to the cymbal patterns, or add them in a little at a time. You can follow this Drill Video  playing finger cymbals with the Slow Combos (the easiest to start); and next I’ll add a Drill Video on the Fast Combos with cymbals. Stay tuned!

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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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we got skirts and we know how to use them!

skirt dancing

swirling skirts in action onstage

We love the Tribal  Skirt Combinations, they add flash and flare to fast numbers! There are eight in the TOBD format, and they can even be used to throw the lead… gotta stay on your toes! I’ve just created a Playlist for the Skirt Combos, including step-by-step instruction, practise (“follow me” while I’m dancing), and even live performance clips you can dance along with. It’s ALL online at my YouTube channel, DanceEternal.


Would you like to do Skirt Combos with your troupe? Do you use Skirt dancing already? Let me know in the Comments!

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Swords with friends!

We’re putting the finishing touches on the Sword Combos!

It’s been so much fun adding this new element in our dancing. We’ve been refining the basic blade moves after class, at rehearsals, and even in a couple of shows this spring! The dozen combinations we have right now are a great start – with the lead changing to add another layer of interest, they’re just enough for an entire song-length performance using swords.

Refining tribal moves takes some time because there are so many transitions, they all have to be clean and clear; and the only way to really work them out is in real time, with real dancers (and swords!).

Meanwhile I had some time to create a teaser video clip from our latest show, at the local multicultural fair. Enjoy!

Video intro: Tribal Sword Combos

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