A little letter to my fellow belly dancers.
My dear fellow belly dancers,
Just because a dancer’s style does not fit into your idea of “cabaret” or “traditional” belly dance, this does not mean that her style is “tribal” or “tribal fusion”. Sometimes a dancer is some other variety of fusion. See Anasma (NYC) or Ebony (DC) for examples.
Also, if you identify yourself as “tribal fusion”, please be able to perform oriental style.
It makes me sad when dancers box themselves into a style, especially new dancers. It’s like a ballet dancer saying that she only wants to perform contemporary pieces but never wants to perform in The Nutcracker or Swan Lake. Belly dance is, at its heart, a Middle Eastern art form, and yes, I do expect those dancers who perform primarily tribal style to be able to perform cabaret and oriental styles. You don’t need to be a master at oriental belly dance, but I do want you to be able to interpret the music of Umm Kalthoum or a really hot tabla solo.
While I’m at it, I suggest to the oriental dancers out there to try out ATS, particularly if you work in a troupe. The ability to follow your troupe-mates body angles and lines is essential to any dancer working in a performing company, and ATS will help you improve your peripheral vision by leaps and bounds. Personally, I’ve learned a LOT about how I present myself as a soloist by working in an American Tribal Style company. ATS will also help you clean up your arm carriage, and it might even help you get rid of that unconscious flippy left or right hand (you know the one I’m talking about). Also, the improvisational essence of ATS will help you think on her feet should anything go wrong in your performance, such as music or costuming mishaps.