Revisiting “Vintage Fusion”

In 2009, I wrote a post about the “Vintage Fusion” trend in Tribal Fusion.  In the 3 years (holy crap, has it been 3 years?!) since I wrote that post, Tribal Fusion as a stylization has calmed down a bit and solidified.  The Vintage Fusion trend has quieted a bit also, but remnants of the costuming and musical markers that define it still influence dancers today.  The fake (real?) wine and whiskey drinking on stage has pretty much disappeared, and costuming is less likely to look like Victorian underthings.  Dancers continue to wear beaded and feathered headdresses reminiscent of flappers and showgirls, musical choices sometimes still have late 19th Century and early 20th Century sounds, and some dancers continue to integrate elements of the Charleston and burlesque; however, these elements are not as obvious and most of the time are elegantly integrated into the performer’s presentations.  I’m of the opinion that the vintage elements that first appeared on the global stage 3-4 years ago are here to stay and are mostly an aesthetic variation of the Tribal Fusion genre in general.  Tribal Fusion as a definition, I think, is much wider and broader than it was six years ago, including Classical Indian fusion (a la Colleena Shakti), the electronic/acoustic musical influence of Zoe Jakes and Beats Antique, classic Tribal Fusion presentations such as Datura/Rachel Brice’s performance at Tribal Fest 12, and performances to electronica (which have become a standard approach to Tribal Fusion).

And what about tribal fusion vs. Tribal Fusion with a capital “T” “F”?  Six years ago, the style was still in great flux, with dancers experimenting with costuming, music, and movement vocabulary.  Since then, I think the style has found its footing, becoming a capital Tribal Fusion.  That said, I would still consider stylizations that blend American Tribal Style with other dance stylizations and genres tribal fusion with a lowercase.

And what will happen in the next three years?  I predict a return to 1960s and 1970s belly dance stylizations, renewed interest in the nighclub era of North Beach in San Francisco and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.  More rhinestones, leggy skirts, and hair worn down.  “Tribaret” is making a come-back in the Tribal Fusion communities.  Will this mark a return to more traditional dancing and music choices, or will it throw the style into an existential crisis?  Are we cabaret? Are we tribal? How much does it matter as long as the practitioners understand their stage presentations?


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Along with North Beach in San Francisco and 8th Ave. in Manhattan, I would add the very active and seminal nightclub era in Boston, from as far back as the 50s. Club Zara was one of the first Middle-Eastern restaurants in the country to feature live entertainment.




    Oooh! Thank you. I’m not as familiar with the Boston scene. Do you know of/have any resources online (or otherwise) that describe it in more detail?




      De-lurking to say hello and that Nadira Jamal is holding a call with Amy Smith tonight that focuses on the Nightclub Era of Boston bellydance.

      As a young bellydancers just starting to look into performing (as a student), your blog is a wealth of conversation and information. I am hoping to take a class or two with you at Waking Persephone next year!




So very interesting! I’m so in awe of witnessing (and participating in to a certain extent) the evolution of a dance style. I agree with you that Tribal Fusion has found its own style. I actually commented on that about a year ago to a good friend. I think that it has found its voice and what it wants to be as it grows up so to speak. 😉

Now what I suspect may happen is the inevitable “wars”… I’ve seen that happen between cabaret and tribal (ATS first and then tribal fusion in general as well). And then between ATS and tribal fusion. And then within ATS itself (ATS vs. ITS). So I could see some Tribal Fusion wars. These “wars” are not necessarily “bad” as they help influence (imho) what is and isn’t a genre but it can be damaging to those who are caught in them.

My personal philosophy on this all is two-folds 1) for Pete’s sake, have fun with whatever the hell you’re doing and 2) if we would all “push” in the same direction as opposed to fighting amongst each other, the greatness that we all could achieve!

But, anyway, super interesting blog post! 😀




Huzzah! Tribal Fusion is totes its own genre. Now that idea just needs to seep through to everyone so people don’t say Tribal Fusion and Tribal in the same breath and assume because you dance Tribal Fusion you also dance Tribal.
Also obvious big stuff in Tribal Fusion choreos at the mo is theatrical and contemporary elements which can possibly be taken as further evidence of its maturity as a genre




    Hmm. Well, the way I see it is that “Tribal” is a HUGE umbrella term that includes ATS, Tribal Fusion, tribal fusion, SGI, ITS, folkloric fantasy a la Awalim (Atlanta) or the now (sadly) defunct Zafira Dance Company (Pittsburgh), and “California” tribal styles directly from the Jamila Salimpour line. So, for me, if someone identified a Tribal Fusion performance, I wouldn’t think they were wrong; they just aren’t being as specific.

    And, yes, the modern/contemporary thing is interesting… I’ve been watching that too, and I think those styles are quite far away from the tree trunk, so to speak, but certainly from similar roots. Urban Tribal Dance Company really opened the door for the contemporary fusions, for sure. But I’m also of the opinion that if you can’t trace a movement style or that dancer’s lineage back through the ATS or Jamila line, then is it really tribal? UTDC is still of that line, because Heather Stants’ origins are with Read My Hips, which developed from the Carolena lineage.

    It’s all very fascinating to watch unfold!




It’s possible that we’re behind the times here in the UK, but I’ve been seeing quite a bit of straight-up dressing as flappers/doing the charleston/cancan/pretending to drink spirits onstage at dance events this year. It’s interesting that this stuff is ‘calming down’ a bit closer to the centre of the Tribal Fusion movement and getting incorporated into the overall TF aesthetic. I’ll be interested to see where it all goes next… I’m a traditional/Egyptian style bellydancer myself, but I do enjoy seeing good Tribal Fusion dancers doing things that are artistic and innovative.



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