Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tribal Fusion and Egyptian Cabaret, what's the difference?

No matter which style you prefer, or what you call them, you have to agree that bellydance is becoming more and more divided into these two categories, each with its own strong identity and style. In this post I won't be dealing with the complex politics that surround these issues, nor do I plan on defending the legitimacy (or awesomeness) of either. That's a whole 'nother topic.

Often I think there should be a "bellydance for dummies" style summary for beginners who are trying to understand the complex world of bellydance which they are entering. Below is a chart I made a while ago to try and come up with a quick "cheat sheet" to help beginner dancers understand the difference. I would LOVE any feedback as this is a HUGE topic! Let me know your thoughts.


Tribal Fusion



Dark, Mysterious, Powerful

Sensual, Expressive, Playful


Middle Eastern Folklore, Modern, hip hop, Indian, Spanish, and African dance, the list goes on.

Middle Eastern folkoric and social dance, Russian ballet, golden era Hollywood movies and tourism

(in a nutshell)

Carolina Nericcio developed American Tribal Style (ATS) an offshoot of bellydance and world dance involving group improv using established combos and cues. Suhaila Salimpour developed her own technique out of middle eastern cabaret and modern dance using complex muscle control and isolation. These created a technical base for individual expression and freedom of style. Dancers like Rachel Brice created interpretations which have been emulated the world over. Tribal Fusion is considered by some to be the evolution of bellydance, and is experiencing a huge creative boom where almost any kind of fusion is being explored.

Middle Eastern folk and social dance was adapted for the stage by the national folkloric troupes of Egypt, (The Kowmeya and Reda Troupes) encouraging national pride and tourism. The “Oriental” or cabaret style seems to have originated in the mid 1900's mainly by Badia Masabni in her Cairo "Casino Opera", again powered by tourism. Russian ballet dancers were brought in to teach poise and elegance. Hollywood movies and American theatre exotized the dance and the Middle East, and in turn influenced the dance and costuming. Americans and dancers the world over have since created their own styling to suit their individual character and audience.


Rachel Brice, Jill Parker, Zoe Jakes, Mardi Love, Sharon Kihara, Mira Betz... Canada: Audra Simmons

Samia Gamal, Tahiya Karioka, Dina, Randa Kamel, Aziza, Tito, Jillina... Canada: Yasmina Ramzy, Hadia


Strong, proud, controlled, arms are higher, hips heavy.

Poised, relaxed, hips heavy, upper body elegant.


Folkloric/gypsy to Industrial, urban-primitive to minimalist. Leg and cleavage not as common. Influences of world dance layered in a gypsy-like collection of treasures. “Melodia” pants, antique jewelry, large hair ornaments, coin bras and low belts with medallions and tassels are common. At this point anything goes!

Feminine and sensual. Beaded bra and belt sets with flowing skirts, now common is the embellished lycra skirt and matching bra. Legs, stomach and cleavage are often artfully shown. Sparkling jewelry. Elegant beaded dresses with cut-outs are also an option. Folkloric costuming is individual to the region.


Anything you can imagine including sword, zills (finger cymbals), fans, fire, "Spanish" skirts, trays….

Veils, assaya (cane), shamadan (candelabra), zills…


Anything. Popular choices are interpretive, electronic with world music influences, strong drum beats, mysterious and dark. Circus and vaudeville elements are becoming popular. Beats Antique, Solace, Amon Tobin, Balkan Beat Box, Pentaphobe, Karsh Kale and Cheb I Sabbah, Mosavo...

Arabic music which can be instrumental, upbeat and catchy or slow and expressive, can be very powerful and beautiful, runs the gamut of moods. Uses instruments such as dumbek, nay, quanun, accordian, mizmar, oud, etc. Famous singers are Oum Kalthoum or Farid Al Attrach for the classics; and Saad El Sogheer, Hakim, Nancy Ajram, Tarkan, Amr Diab and Warda etc for upbeat pop music.

Why try this style?

Mysterious and powerful, this dance gives you freedom of expression, and is impressive and exciting to a western audience. Learn muscle control and strength. Costumes are creative, fascinating and exciting. Express your individuality!

Sensual and exciting, cabaret is considered more authentic and traditional, with a rich history and culture to explore. Express all of your emotions from joy to heartbreak. Learn muscle control and poise. Costumes are beautiful, sparkling and elegant. Express your femininity!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Blue Bella!

My Bella finally arrived! Adjusted a couple hooks and it fits beautifully. I was so happy to find a Bella on Bhuz in a color and style that I like. But you know what they say, "you have to sell Bellas to get Bellas!" ....I just don't think I can part with my ruby red was my first real pro costume! SOB! I can keep it for now, right? RIGHT?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dancing With The Girls

I've had so much fun doing duet and trio shows this summer. A gig is always more fun when you're going with a friend. It feels safer of course, travel is less mind-numbingly boring, and any difficult or ridiculous situation is always hilarious, rather than making you upset or annoyed.

For example, here are Samara and I turning what could be an intimidating venue into a movie set.

Context: We are asked to change in a bathroom and I am getting the most out of the situation. Samara is standing on the edge of the bathtub taking my photo. No one got hurt. True story.

In a group, any problem is creatively solved. In this photo, Saba improvises her costume (as I cleverly forgot to pack her costume change, a matching red outfit). She becomes the gypsy-esque star and Yzza and I are her back-up dancers. Crisis averted!

Waiting time "backstage" becomes much more productive.

In other crazy stories, nothing went wrong at this show with Maryfer! I am not making this stuff up folks.

Oh, and no we're not changing in a public washroom (bellydance purgatory), but were actually given an entire "spare" ballroom including a staff washroom. That's how you do it.

And here I am NOT lighting anything on fire with my Shamadan. SUCCESS!!

And finally, walking through a giant complex of banquet halls from the changeroom to your show is about 300% more entertaining.