Tribal Fest 9 – A Sort of Review

Remember my previous post about “vintage fusion”, meaning ruffly pants, Victorian/saloon girl/burlesque/Vaudeville-inspired performances, often involving wine bottles and poor acting?  Well… Tribal Fest 9 had its share of that sort of performance, but that’s not why I’m writing this post.

Why am I writing this post?  To tell you about the performances that I loved, the ones that inspired me, and the ones that I believe signal a sea change in the world of tribal and tribal-inspired bellydance.  Here are the performances that stood out in my mind because they were authentic, didn’t follow trends, and were clearly heartfelt.  They were also well-executed with clean technique, and of course, had artistic integrity.

American Tribal Style bellydance: FatChance BellyDance.
They are the reason we’re all here, right?  Video forthcoming.

Tribal style bellydance:  Awalim Dance Company.
Awalim, headed by Ziah Ali and based in Atlanta, Georgia, is an excellent example of a fun, technical, and energetic tribal dance company.  Ziah, along with company members Teejei and Kate, presented a fantastic and entertaining set with no gimmicks, no props, and accomplished finger cymbal playing.

Tribal style bellydance: Zafira Dance Company.
This trio blends classic bellydance, tribal influences, and creative staging.  They are one of the troupes who make the “old-timey” look-and-feel work, because they believe wholeheartedly in it, and it’s clearly a style that fits everyone in the company.  Video forthcoming.

Tribal fusion: Sera and the Solstice Ensemble.
What can I say about Sera other than that she is an artist in her own right.  She has always been an innovative, heartfelt performer with clean technique and a vision, a vision of dance as art and as moving sculpture.  Sera and her ensemble, based in New York city, always present moving sets, and this year’s performance at Tribal Fest made me cry with its power, precision, creative staging, and honesty.

Tribal fusion: The Uzumé.
Based in Holland, the Uzumé presented a creative and modern dance-inspired duet.  I didn’t catch them live, but after watching the video of their performance, I’m quite sad that I missed it.

Tribal fusion: Daniela.
I’ve been watching soloist Daniela, from Florida, for over a year.  She’s always been an elegant and polished performer, but I think that her Tribal Fest performance this year signaled a maturation in her style and performance quality.  She blends classic cabaret with the poise and strength of American Tribal Style bellydance, and very importantly, she is unique.  No one else in the tribal bellydance scene dances like she does.  In addition, her technique is impeccable, and if you aren’t smiling after watching her smile during her performances, then… um… I’m not sure what to tell you.

Tribal fusion: Natalie Brown.
OK, I’m biased.  This girl is a dear friend of mine, but I have to say that even if I weren’t, her performance would still have been one of my favorites.  She has always had wonderful extension, elegance, and musicality, but she brought her dance up a notch (or two) with this performance, adding intense emotion and more advanced technique. She is one to watch.

Bellydance fusion: Shoshanna.
I’ve been a fan of this lyrical bellydancer since I started dancing back in 2000.  She danced with her signature prop, the four-yard veil, at Tribal Fest this year, and she shows us how to tame and become one with what’s often an unruly length of silk.  As you’re watching this, pay attention to her feet; they’re always so elegantly pointed!

Dance fusion: Shakra.
These fellow DC-area dancers and I joked that last year at Tribal Fest, all of us from the DC area were angry.  This year, we decided to do something different.  Shakra, Hilary and Na’la, performed the entirety of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and rocked it.  Video forthcoming.

Were you at Tribal Fest?  What about other recent bellydance events?  Who do you think are the up-and-coming dancers in the tribal and fusion world?  Let me know who your favorites were… and let’s avoid talk about who you didn’t like.  I do believe in constructive criticism, but it should be reserved for less public forums than this blog.


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I wasn’t at Tribal Fest as I’m poor and I live on the East Coast, BUT I have to say that I was blown away by Donna Meija’s performance at TribalCon this year!




I definitely dug Daniela! I had never seen her, and she reminded me a lot of Aziza of Montreal, whom I also love. Awalim I have seen on the video and I always love them–their energy and their technique and choreography is enviable! I don’t think Zafira is up yet, but I look forward to seeing them!




I have yet to go to a TF, regretfully :). Thank you for posting this. I have had my eye on Daniela ever since Raqs America last year when she performed during the open stage; and Miles did as well. In fact I was standing next to him when she was performing and he asked me what her name was. She is truly talented and her energy bliss is highly contagious. Def one to watch!




Thanks for posting these, I can’t wait until all the videos are up. I really loved Awalim, I feel like they current line up has really hit it’s stride (I’ve seen them at TribeO for the past 3 years, I’d love to see them at Pennsic.) Their performance here really speaks to me. Daniela is beautiful, I loved meeting her at at Mira’s workshops last year. And I loved Shoshanna’s piece. I’m usually not much for veils or more atmospheric pieces but this was incredibly well done, some of the best use of a prop I’ve seen.




Thanks for the kind words about our set! We sure do work hard to uphold Awalim’s legacy.

I wanted to give kudos to Red Lotus; that is the tightest, most dedicated student troupe I’ve seen in ages. Their technique is nearly flawless, and they brought extra beauty to familiar movements. Clever formations too.



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