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?