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Tribal Bellydance: it's origins, it's evolution and it's future...?
The rise of American tribal style [ATS]
“American Tribal Style” is an fine example of a well defined belly dance style that was created in America.
ATS is purely American in many ways. America as a melting pot of different cultures created rock'n roll, jazz, blues before and now ATS.
Manager Miles Copeland who had spent his childhood in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, set up a troupe of professional bellydancers on stage and launching them into a worldwide theatre tour was considered a big risk. Miles did it... and with succes! The first appearances of the Bellydance Superstars were at Lollapalooza in 2003. While the first tour attracted mainly dancers and students, the second tour sold out to a much broader audience. Finally bellydancers deserved their rightfull place in the Hall of Fame. One of the highlight of the show was en is certainly the "Tribal style" section under the direction of Rachel Brice.
An interesting fenomenon is the rising star of Rachel Brice, American tribal style dancer and yoga teacher. Although "la Brice" as a solo artist isn't ATS but a tribal fusion. She was certainly not the pioneer of American tribal style, I believe Carolena di Nericcio of "Fat Chance Bellydance" deserverves more honours in that respect. The Fat Chance Bellydance troupe from San Francisco, California, was a pioneer in Tribal style, together with Bal Anat of Jamila Salimpour. Bal Anat was founded in the sixties and is sometimes credited to be the first American tribal belly dance company that popularized ethnic costuming. Although Bal Anat never labelled themselves as 'Tribal Style'. Where the so called bellydance 'cabaret' style was dominantly a solo performance, the tribal style performances are a group happening. The dresses were more closed, at least in the 20 th century. Tattoos and ethic jewellery such as khul-khal (ankle rings worn by the Egyptian gypsies), turbans, the music choice and the choreography created a completely different atmostphere.
Rachel did open many doors for American Tribal Style, she was featured on a few CD covers, was highlighted on the poster of the second world tour and her video did quite well. Her own troupe "the Indigo" is pretty interesting with the use of electronic music and Native American element in the costuming.
Carolena Nericcio and Megha Gavin (Tribal Pura)
FatChanceBellyDance student Quinn Donovan started with tribal style bellydance and founded Oregon's Gypsy Fire in 1998. Quinn studied since 1994 with the originators of ATS in San Francisco. Gypsy Fire spins around the vocabulary of classic American Tribal Style and does now international shows.