Cabaret Creep: Have we blown our fuse?

Three years ago I made a prediction in this post, titled “The New Face of Tribaret“.  I saw the “big name” dancers in the fusion belly dance scene starting to dance to more Arabic music, embracing cabaret aesthetics such as mermaid skirts and bedla, but in distinctly contemporary interpretations.  I’m not sure how much attention it garnered when I first wrote it, but I do believe that I was right on the money.

Last year at Tribal Fest 12, Rachel Brice and her Datura students, dripping in antique jewelry and assuit, performed (one of my favorite pieces of the weekend) to music from this album (along with other music)—Nadia Gamal: Music for an Oriental Dance—which is not at all music for Tribal Style belly dance… like, at all.  With Zoe Jakes’ Bhoomi Project, we have performed straight-up belly dance pieces, including one with finger cymbals, but with Zoe’s signature contemporary stylization and to music by her world-fusion electronica band Beats Antique.  The photos filtering in from TribalCon 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia, show a host of “tribaret” fusion costuming, with dancers in sequins, rhinestones, color, and (gasp!) showing lots of leg.  Even self-proclaimed dance “dinosaur” Yasmin Henkesh attended and performed Egyptian oriental style at 3rd Coast Tribal this year in Texas, indicating a blurring of the lines between “Cabaret” and “Tribal”.

A little personal aside: When I performed at TribalCon in 2010, I wore a “tribaret” costume, and danced to Arabic music: a qanun taqsim and a drum solo. At the time, I, too, was returning to my American Cabaret roots, but I also wanted my performance to reflect the workshop I taught at TribalCon that year which focused on the Salimpour legacy in tribal style belly dance, including the seminal Jamila Salimpour belly dance format.  I distinctly remember being a bit, well, misunderstood.  People said I was too sparkly, and thought it was odd that I would do a “cabaret” performance, especially at a tribal event.  Personally, I don’t think that performance was straight up “cabaret”; if it were, I would have danced to different music, such as, say, “Aziza” or “Habibi Ya ‘Aini”. But, as we all are, I was immediately labeled, and I believe that many of my followers felt I was betraying my “dark fusion” self for a happier, sparklier dancer (who was always there, but most people had not seen me dance in my earlier, more oriental days).

So, what does it mean that fusion and tribal-associated dancers are integrating more oriental elements into their dance and costuming?  Did the fusion trend burn itself out?  Did we stray so far from the roots of the dance that we felt so disconnected that we decided to pull back just a bit?

I have a theory that I haven’t really tested, and it’s two-fold:

1) Yes, tribal fusion as a whole went as far as it could, and that return is what we are witnessing, and will continue to witness for several years.  When we run out of glitchy electronica, wear holes in our Melodia pants, and pop and lock until we drop, we will either decide that Middle Eastern belly dance isn’t really what we were attracted to in the first place (we sought other things from the dance, such as an extended sisterhood or family, wearing beautiful costumes, or feeling secure in our bodies, all of which are valid reasons for seeking out any activity, but all miss the point that belly dance must be learned within a certain cultural framework) or we will seek out the roots and history of this dance form, cultural baggage and all. Which leads me to the second part…

2) I remember when tribal fusion really hit the national scene. The year was 2003. The United States had just invaded Iraq, and we still reeled from the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  Our national relationship with the Middle East shifted in a huge way over the course of only a few years, affecting the Western world.  I believe that tribal fusion allowed many of us to have a limited emotional engagement with belly dance, an art so quintessentially Middle Eastern and yet so terribly misunderstood (dare I say like the region itself), on our own artistic terms.  Tribal in its essence is Western, and evolved from Western belly dancers, beginning in California, and eventually expanding within and beyond the fantasy-folkloric contexts of Renaissance faires and the Society for Creative Anachronism.  We, as a community, could take the elements of belly dance we wanted—the movement, the costuming, the community, and some of the music, while eschewing the elements we didn’t—the sexualization of the dance by non-dancers, the oxymoronic role of the belly dancer in Middle Eastern society, and the responsibility of representing a culture not our own.  Tribal fusion allowed us to belly dance on our own Western feminist terms: we wore a lot of black, didn’t show our legs, performed to lots of non-Arabic music (Indian and Balkan music, however, was acceptable, but Arabic music was “too cabaret”, and if we did dance to Arabic music, we would in a distinctly tribal fusion style) and called ourselves “dance fusion artists.”

Ten years later, September 11th has become a chapter in history books, and US troops have returned from Iraq.  The United States, no longer the hegemony it was, our economy a wreck, and the dollar weak, is not so intimately involved in the affairs of the Arab world (although, as I write this, President Obama is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories, harkening back to the Clinton-era days of Camp David diplomacy).  And I believe that because of this geo-political shift, we belly dancers feel that we can step into the pool of Middle Eastern music and aesthetics, wearing bedla and cabaret-inspired costuming, performing to Arabic music, and learning Arabic oriental and folkloric stylizations.

Ultimately, we still want to express ourselves artistically and emotionally, and the proliferation of stage presence and theatrical skills workshops reflects that need, but I believe we can do so within the context of Middle Eastern music and movement.  I also don’t believe that this new trend is any way a step backwards, but rather a new branch in the evolution of the dance.  Those of us who associate with the fusion belly dance community don’t necessarily want to dance like they do “over there”; however, in order to express ourselves as belly dancers (as opposed to contemporary or interpretive dancers), we must train in various indigenous stylizations and understand Arabic music (which, in turn, means having an understanding of the culture and politics of the region).  I see the return to “tribaret” and the fascination with pre-Tribal belly dance as an exciting development, encouraging dancers to learn more about the origins of the dance so that we can continue to innovate and inspire future generations.

 

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Katherine Baker
 

You are singing my song. Thank you for posting this.

 

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One thing you didn’t touch on too much, which I think is another reason the Orientale stylings are coming back. #3: people who came to belly dance through tribal and fusion and have stuck around for years are starting to delve deeper into the roots of the art form and are cross training with Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, Gulf, North African and other styles. And that training rubs off!

You’d probably get a kick out of what I’m doing at AOTB, dancing to Western music, wearing a coin and mermaid skirt outfit in gold! With sequins! And what will be totally obvious through my dancing are my two background areas, ATS and Egyptian.

 

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    I’m so sad not to be at AOTB this year… I miss everyone!

    And, yes, I think your point is totally true… and maybe even with the addition of 4) Those of us who started with oriental, then did tribal/fusion, decided we really like oriental/cabaret stylization, but want to do it on our own terms. 😀

     

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It’s almost a shame there are different camps… I find both (or all?) styles inspiring.

 

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I think the return to Oriental and the move to more emotive performances are linked also. At its best Oriental is emotive loveliness. Fusion has come so far and matured so much. Me love it :)

 

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What an insightful, in-depth, and just downright fascinating analysis! Thank you so much for this post. I don’t really keep up on things tribal, but have always found it fascinating as a series of dance practices (not to call it all one thing). It really does speak to desires of North American women, which are often as complex and contradictory as ME dance is too…

 

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I completely agree.
Some time around 2005, a few years after I started dancing, I deliberately chose to try and integrate Oriental style into my dancing because I fell in love with Egyptian orchestral music. I knew that my East Coast sort-of-but-not-exactly-ATS moves wouldn’t do the music justice. Before that time, I’d only really seen “Cabaret” dancers in my area perform to Arabic pop music, which didn’t do anything for me (at the time – now I like it okay). So, in a way, as the Cabaret/Oriental scene in my area got deeper, I realized how much depth there is in the genre as a whole, which made me want to study it.
In a way, I was also “forced into” studying Oriental because the only teachers who offered advanced level classes in my area taught only Oriental. No one else in my city (Raleigh NC) teaches Tribal Fusion.
I wonder how many other dancers had similar experiences to me based on the restraints of their geographic area.

 

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I am merely She-Who-Watches, not a dancer, but you have put into very thoughtful words something I have been observing and wondering at. Thanks for the insight!

 

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Another reason I think this is happening is that the community has grown “wider” (more exposure) due to Facebook and social networking sites since 2003 (and the popularity/interest in Lee Ali’s group), as well as all the footage available on youtube for folks to ponder and explore.

 

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I always enjoy your posts and find them provocative and insightful. Thank you for sharing.

 

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You have always been really brilliant and well spoken, I hope this post goes far and wide. I loved the performance you did recently at the Salimpour studio, it was really beautiful! Thanks for these words, I’m gonna share them with all my students now!

 

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This was an awesome article, as always! I read it a few days ago and it really got me thinking…I’ve had this conversation with a few dancer friends, but I haven’t yet had a chance to really parse out my thoughts on paper…but I’m gonna try he he

I, as you probably know, am an absolute nerd about fusion dancing. I adore the challenge of analyzing the technique, musicality, composition, dynamics, etc of many styles of dance and finding a piece of music that drives me to explore fusing elements of those styles together. I was having this discussion with a few others and we realized that so many dancers who call themselves ‘fusion’ dancers often are not themselves creating the fusion, but learning the style from an instructor. It seems in the early days of tribal fusion, everyone had their own style, their own sense of musicality. Calling yourself a tribal fusion dancer often meant that you were creating a new style, elicited some sense of innovation. However, as the style took off, fewer and fewer tribal dancers were creating their own take on it. In a sense, I feel as if tribal fusion, the style of dance, has halted somewhat in innovation and become it’s own particular genre (which is, of course, a fusion of its own, but doesn’t seem to be evolving further). Perhaps, like you said, it ran out of room, so went back to it’s roots.

However, I still feel as if there is a driving fusion community, of those exploring different styles, cross training, carefully composing, pushing the boundaries. For instance, I really love to watch innovative dancers like April Rose and Donna Mejia, who both are well versed in many styles of dance and very seamlessly fuse the elements with intent and knowledge. Perhaps they just don’t quite relate themselves to the style of ‘tribal fusion’ anymore?

I personally will always adore cabaret and traditional styles of bellydance. In fact, a few years ago I dropped the label of ‘tribal’ when describing my style and just started calling myself ‘fusion’, as I was becoming aware that I was fusing hip hop and modern with a cabaret base, not tribal. While I love to watch it, I just don’t identify with the style of tribal fusion, aside from the costuming. I feel as if there are others out there starting to make a similar distinction, and I am interested to see more and more of these discussions out there!

Anywho, just wanted to share my random thoughts with the interwebs. Thanks, as always, for the thought provoking, wonderful article! Love reading your blog <3

with love and nerdery,
Amirah

 

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    Before my thought leaves my head…

    So, I think the ones that continue to innovate and truly fuse are the ones that have the knowledge and the training to actually do so, like, as you said, April Rose and Donna Mejia. The ones who don’t have the wealth of dance knowledge won’t have the tools with which to innovate.

     

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    I agree Amirah.
    Sometimes I don’t know if ‘Tribal Fusion’ is an apt name anymore. It is so much more a genre in its own right and in many ways just as close to other forms of oriental dance as it is to Tribal. It is a point of frustration when some Cabaret artists think Tribal and Tribal Fusion are the same thing… you’re like: what the? The next generation of Tribal Fusion performers have dropped virtually all Tribal pretext even down to the posture.

     

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You have some valid points, but the costuming part is really the surface. Going to black or to colour, to metal or to sparklies is a personal or costume aestetic that may or may not be linked to the dance style itself.
I think this was more of a fashion trend for tribal dancers than something that proposed a single stylization in dance. Now the trend is changing, people realized that it s the dance that is in the spotlight and you are no less “true tribal” for wearing colour or mermaid skirts (which is great).
Also, for beginning dancers and young styles of dance a very structured – coded costume options that everybody wears is a lifesaver – it gives the dancers less chance to do something wrong costume wise. so people with experience (fashion, stylization, stage performance) will go on to experiment with new stuff, you can t do it while you re a baby dancer or dancing a dance that is young and it would seem a betrayal to alter it in such a way because it hasn t grown its roots yet.
Luckily, with time, these things just tend to go their own spontaneous way.

I think fusion can go even farther, into theatricality and beyond, we haven t seen the limits yet. Belly dance is not in its original cultural framework anymore, for a while now not should it be forced to go back. The metaphorical “owner of the dance” is the person dancing it.

Personally, I ve tried folkloric dances of Egypt and part of Africa and would not go there again. Ever. Didn t help with anything one bit. There is a reason why folkloric and stage dances are different and require or don t require at all different skill set. Love oriental, love tribal fusion and love fusion bellydance but “the roots” often do not hold a holy grail of some sort, they just document the time and the people.

 

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    Alice ~ what kind of “help” were you seeking (but did not receive) when you studied traditional folkloric dances? Help with technique? Help with self-identifying as an artist? Help with understanding the origins of “bellydance?” Help with understanding Middle Eastern peoples, and their respective cultures. Help me to understand why you would never. Ever. go there again….

     

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      I was seeking to broaden my dance vocabulary, ranges of expression and music interpreting abilities. I don t think that was too much to expect. I m not saying somebody else would not get that from the dances I tried since people obviously do, I just didn t, and that was a first – everything else I tried, from non-folkloric bellydance styles through flamenco to corporal mime enriched me immensely. Basically, I like folklore with my anthropologist hat on, as a dancer I prefer to skip on it and put my training hours in something that will give results.

       

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Thank you so much for this incredibly insightful posting. I am currently doing research on the rise of Tribal Fusion BD in America, and I am encountering academic texts written by women from India or the Middle East, who have seen some performances, and who find the practice of white women appropriating dance styles from the “East” to be orientalist or basically essentializing of the ‘Oriental’ body as being exotic and hypersexualizied. Another common argument is that this dance form is allowing Western (mostly white) women to become in touch with their own feminine and sexual liberation, which is ironic considering how oppressed feminine sexuality has become in many spaces in the Middle East.

I reject the notion that we are women who are simply using our position of privilege from within empire to appropriate whatever cultural dance form we choose. Yet, I see and appreciate your point – that there is an intimate connection between politics and dance that we dancers certainly ought to become more aware of.

I would love to interview you for my paper – if you are interested and have the time. Your thoughts really allowed me to make some new and important connections.

Thank you!

 

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    … you wouldn’t happen to be talking about Sunaina Maira’s paper, would you? I thought it was really interesting, considering she’s not a practitioner. I think, though, even if we don’t like the idea, I think some dancers do inadvertedly use their position of privilege to use belly dance for our own personal goals, and I think that was certainly true in the 1960s and 1970s. I think this becomes apparent in the “Goddess Dance” variations of belly dance, for example. It’s whether or not we take the responsibility to really learn about the culture from which the dance form comes that is key, and we all come to this dance for very different reasons.

    I would love to be interviewed; your research sounds very interesting, and I hope to be doing similar work in graduate school. :)

     

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      Thank you so much for you kind reply! I am sorry I did not see this sooner. Yes, I was referring to Sunaina Maira’s paper and I notice you have it listed in your resources section as well. I thought the article was very thought provoking, but felt uncomfortable with the broad-brush argument that all of us are engaging in orientalist, or even racist forms of representational violence. The argument is too simplistic and overlooks the complexity of this dance form and its various practitioners. Many of whom are not white or privileged women. My main teachers here in Hawai’i are Japanese and Native Hawaiian, and I do not think they fit into her notion that these are just Western women exercising their white privilege. That being said, I do cringe and feel uncomfortable when belly dancers use the term ‘oriental dance’ or try to perpetuate the myth of the exotic, erotic and mythical dancer of the East.

      I would be beyond honored if I may interview you for my current research project! Your ideas have given me so much inspiration already. It is so wonderful to see dancing intellectuals like you – and I think your knowledge about the history and politics of the dance shows in your performances. I have emailed you with some more details about my project.

      Thank you!

       

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I have a few thoughts on this, which I’m sure would be more coherent if I hadn’t been at AOTB for the last three days, but here goes:
– I’ve always maintained that tribal fusion is inherently a postmodern artform; you often find a return to classicism after a postmodern movement has gone on for a while
– I’m not sure I can separate competence from this turn towards oriental. This is anecdotal, but TF was wonderful for me when I was afraid of an audience; I could stand upstage, do isolations, and glare at the audience. You can’t really do that with cab.
-lately I’ve seen a lot more fusion in cab (and you can actually make the argument that bellydance is inherently a fusion form as well). Bellydance it-girls like Katalin Schafer, Daria Mitskevich, and even Randa Kamel do a helluva lot of fusion, which could have made it more attractive for a lot of us.
– as much as we like to think that we’re individual special snowflakes, tribal fusion figureheads like the ones you mentioned started delving into cab, which made it acceptable for us to do the same.

For me, I think I got really tired of trying to define what I did as a tribal fusion dancer (to the general public, to the rest of the bellydance world, to other fusion dancers, and to myself). And where I’d thought of cabaret as being highly competitive when I started out in tribal fusion, not too long ago I started to feel the same way about tribal fusion. And to be totally honest, (and maybe I’m revealing a little more than I should here) I was kind of fed up with being kind of treated like a novelty act by other bellydancers, even with my past experience with cabaret and technical skills. But that vindictive reasoning only comprised about 1% of the reason I dipped my toe into cab :).

 

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    There is also one more contributing factor…..tons of dancers who got their start in the 60’s, 70’s are thinking about retirement….like myself. We are starting to speak up and say “Here is what we know…check us out, do not forget us, our history and our unique experiences….we will be gone soon”….”do not let the pre-80’s dance style disappear.”

     

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Really interesting, although i dont agree with your political issues, You are NOW, stealing an robbing and killing people in a lot of countries…. is just so sad to see americans talking about september 11th when in the same date but in the 70s you helped augusto pinochet to take the power in Chile, and helped to kill thousands of innocents. Dont be so naive, the only good thing of your country is THE ART, AND THE DANCE….. Please be more critical when you talk about having wars in other countries… I dont think you feel ashamed or sorry for all the killings you support everyday through your votes…. ahhhh americans…. so arrogant and stupid, but i love your tribal fusion, and your art stuff :)

 

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    I’m not sure where you are from, however, I’m not sure you’d appreciate it if I assumed all the people from your place of origin behaved and thought the same. People in the United States are diverse and have widely varying political and social views. Not all Americans are arrogant and stupid, and I find it offensive that you think because I’m an American that by your definition I, too, am “arrogant and stupid.” Also, what one administration ordered in the 1970s in Latin America does not represent the entire history of American-International relations; believing that all citizens of the United States agree with covert action in other countries is naive. Remember when people in our own country protested military action in Iraq? I do. Some of us have studied the history of US intervention in other countries’ political affairs and believe the blow-back was worse than the action itself. Plus, if you re-read what I wrote, you’ll see that I am saying that today the United States is NOT as powerful as it once was, and I do think that this affects how dancers in the United States view the arts and cultures from other countries. In addition, the citizens of the United States do not get to vote on whether or not we invade another country, or whether the Executive Branch calls for and approves of covert operations. That is, unfortunately, entirely up to our leadership, and just because we vote for our leadership, that does not mean that we agree with or condone every decision our legislators make.

     

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I love the “explanation/opinion” in this article”! I feel there’s much truth in this & I felt it myself but didn’t know how to put it in words & appreciate this posting very much – I’ll definitely be sharing this with other long-time belly dance friends & my students. My own small troupe I belong to “come from” the 70’s cabaret, have done & still like fusion of our own making as well as some folkloric, and do more tribal-fusion now when we dance (which isn’t often anymore); our tribal isn’t ATS as that really is a specific style of its own I believe and we’ve never done anything more Goth or anything similar to that (although I love to see it all). We’ve recently decided to perform again at our local Ren Faire this year (it’s been a few years since we’ve performed there) and we’ve decided to “bring back” much of what we’ve done way back in our past (including zill playing – Masmoudi & 6/8s) because we’ve felt an urge to do so and want to share the actual experience with other newer dancers so they can actually see, not just hear about, what we did “back in the day.” We’ve dug out our old video tapes to help our memories with past routines & it’s been fun & interesting to watch!

 

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I love this! I learned to dance mostly in New Mexico, have always considered myself pretty solidly Egyptian in style, and learning about the culture was important enough to me that I went and got a master’s in Middle Eastern Studies (I think I was also trying to redirect my desire to be a professional belly dancer).

When I live in the Washington, DC area, I found that not everybody considered me a good Egyptian-style dancer, because I use the Suhaila Salimpour technique that is now used by so many dancers of all styles out west. I didn’t really consider myself tribal fusion, because I’m invested so heavily in the middle eastern cultural aspects of belly dance, so I didn’t really fit anywhere on the East Coast. I’m back in New Mexico now, but I’ve decided to ignore the lines between Cabaret/Tribal Fusion/Egyptian. I think that the Salimpour technique that Tribal Fusion dancers use is a great gift to the belly dance world – in my opinion, it’s safer, more efficient, and looks cleaner, and I don’t see any reason that I can’t use it for Egyptian or Cabaret style. I know this could be a whole other debate, so I’ll leave that.

I think fusion of all kinds is great, but it’s important to be really educated in the forms and cultures you are drawing from – it’s nice to see dancers exploring that education publicly in performance. I love to see tribal fusion dancers ‘going back to their roots’, learning more about the culture and context belly dance comes from. I agree with your theory about why tribal fusion is trending back towards cabaret, and I really hope people are delving more deeply into the cultural knowledge that cabaret has to offer.

On the other hand, the tribal fusion world generally has more refined technique, and much more interesting workshops. Cabaret/Egyptian workshops are almost always choreography, props, or a folkloric form, and there’s only so much you can get out of those after awhile. Tribal fusion workshops cover all kinds of modern dance topics, kabuki, NLP, dealing with mental chatter, anatomy, layering, dance games…Although there are certain ‘cabaret’ dancers who I would love to study with, the tribal workshop festivals are always more worthwhile than the cabaret. And the workshops that excite me most are with people like April Rose and Donna Mejia, who are bringing the wisdom and technique of other artistic dance forms to belly dance in a way that I think can transcend genres. Thus you will find me at Elevation next weekend (and at Tribal Revolution in June), taking these workshops and performing to Lamma Bada in a cabaret costume. I feel like tribal fusion and cabaret have a lot to learn from each other, and the more I see tribal dancers using cabaret elements in their performances, the more I feel like we are doing that. Now if only I could convince more cabaret dancers to come play in tribal fusion world…

 

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While the majority of this article was a MAJOR “yes!” for me, I agree w/that fourth point most heartily. I like the cultural roots and movement vocabulary that Cabaret offers, but I like the strength, drama, power & aesthetic that Tribal embodies as well. (Of course Cabaret has it’s own strength and power too, but to me, it’s just a bit more.. “girly” than Tribal tends to be.. yanno..?) I love the flash and the sparkle, but I’m also not always comfortable w/how demure and “frilly” some Cab. dance(r)s can feel. So it’s nice to find that there may be a happy medium on the horizon. :)

Just a few years ago, when I was first beginning to learn bellydance, (starting out in Cabaret, and gravitating over time to Tribal), I thought for a long while that a dancer couldn’t couldn’t pursue both styles- let alone blend them- w/o being -severely- looked down on by her peers (sitting in either camp). There seemed to exist this odd antipathy between Tribal and Cabaret dancers at times, and as a baby dancer who was just starting out n’ looking to find their “chosen path,” that perceived pressure to kinda “CHOOSE ONE NOW!!!” was a little bit daunting. So I like that folks are finding less exclusivity between the genres, and that more and more often these days, one is allowed to blend the two worlds in whatever way is most comfortable for them. They’re both beautiful, empowering, and artful & engaging- just in different ways. Outside of the whole “mine mine mine!!” POV, there’s no reason why a dancer shouldn’t explore the full range of what bellydance can be- and offer to them as a means of cultural engagement, personal empowerment, and creative expression. ^_^

 

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I found this site by accident and have to say how refreshing it is. I have very much enjoyed reading all your comments. I was Jamila Salimpours protege from the 1970’s-80’s. I did shows with Bal Anat at the Renaissance Festival and then went to work to do 3 shows in the Casbah or Greek Taverna at night. Same steps, same costumes different music.

Now I live and teach in the largest Arabic Community in the world outside the Middle East, Metro Detroit Michigan.
The Arabs find it very confusing to see dancers in “belly dancing” style costumes not using Middle Eastern music nor any technique resembling the dance in its original form. While I of course personal growth and “fusion” as it were happens in most all art forms, to call it Middle Eastern or Belly Dancing, there should be at least some elements left that tie it to it’s origin. If not then it might be better to call it “whatever you want” inspired by….
This dance does have a long history and culture that it is tied to. There is no other dance be it Native American, Polish, East Indian or Hawaiian that has “morphed” to the extent this dance has. While people want to grow and express themselves, there needs to be some kind of responsibility to the integrity of the culture from which it has come. Isadora Duncan, Ruth st Denis and others of this era followed thier own spirits creating another form. While having roots and formal training, they didn’t call it “morphed Ballet” . At least in Ballet the steps are the same no matter what country you train in. Our art has names now thanks to people like Jamila and cymbal patterns, but shimmies end up being vibrations with no control and Maya’s aren’t produced anything like Maya Medoir did them, which is where the name came from.

Suhaila has developed a method because of her extensive training in many other forms appeals across the board. When I started in 1970 there were 70 people in a class. Then it faded away. Now it is bacfk and still growing.
That alone is a tribute so Mother Goddess bless the differences.

 

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I just posted your blog on a woman’s FaceBook thread about her noticing this trend. I also posted this comment to her: ‘I personally think one of my favorite things about Tribal is that I am not confined into one style of costuming. I own everything from stuff that is passable Eman Zaki style to full on authentic regional costuming. Theater was my background before dance and costuming was carefully thought out in production for what you want to convey. For an American audience they are rarely going to understand the nuances between different styles of cabaret/Orientale costuming but I can hit them over the head with the obvious theatricality that Tribal “allows”.’

 

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Thanks for this thoughtful and refreshing article. The discussion in the comments has been very interesting as well. While I started learning Egyptian/cab/folkloric styles back in Canada, the bulk of my training has been in Southern France with mostly Middle Eastern teachers teaching essentially Egyptian style with occasional folkloric elements. I should specify that France has the largest Muslim/Arab population in Europe. The tribal scene down here appears to be non-existent, or at least as far as I can tell – there’s an ATS troupe in the Nice area (ATS holds zero appeal for me) and some schools teach ‘tribal’ but their performances don’t look anything like USian tribal. One of my (North African) teachers told me she didn’t like tribal and none of my other MEern teachers have expressed opinions or even acknowledged it in classes. So it’s interesting to me – it’s as if tribal or fusion doesn’t exist. Again, I’m speaking only about what I observe here in the south of France. Paris I suspect is very different (indeed, they host the Bellyfusions festival). Personally I’m very happy exploring the roots of the dance and feel like I could spend the rest of my life learning the different styles, props etc. Ditto for flamenco. These journeys are for life.

Anyway, thanks again for your article, and for reading my newbie 2 cents.

 

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