Why is it called "tribal"?

Aisha Azar

New member

Dear Kharmine,

Dear Kharmine,
It has been a VERY long time saince I have lived in Calirornia, so please bear with me on locations, but other info is accurate.
When I lived in Novato, CA ( graduated from high school there, it seems like the Ren Fairs took place up behind San Anselmo. This was in about 1969-1971.
By that time, there was already some of that tribal fantasy influence going on in both dress and dance. Jamila Salinpour set the stage for its inception on the West coast. Bal Anat was doing a lot of "tribal looking" stuff, not at all relevant to authentic ethnic dance. It was fascinating and they put on a good show, as did Diane Weber in So. Cal.
In Southern California, ( I lived in Oxnard and went to part of high school there and returned there after graduation), it seems like Ren Faires took place in, maybe, Box Canyon, down close to Thousand Oaks someplace. Diane Weber's dancers would perform and they were different from what Bal Anat was presenting, but there tended to wear stripey shalwar and vests, etc. WEber herself would dance Beledi in proper attire and she was fantastic. But, there was still that feeling of "tribal" in the dress, though not as fully developed.
I think Masha took it a step further and Nerricchio developed it still further. I still feel that Salimpour is mainly responsible for setting up the environment in which alternarive dance styles developed in the Western U.S. While there was nothing wrong with this. Unfortunately she did not take respoinsbility for clearly defining what she was doing. I think she has her own regets about it.
I left California in 1973 and by then the stage was already firmly set for alternative dance styles.
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ok then.... you have Turkish belly dance, Egyptian belly dance, Greek belly dance, etc.... some of which are VERY different from one another, (then there is American "caberet" style, which I interpret to be a mish mash of the above.... often seen nowadays with a tad of ATS thrown in!!!!!)
so why cannot you have American Tribal Style belly dance...(I am referring here to straight up ATS, not the various newer "fusions") which, by definition, is American??
It seems to me that ALL the above include much of the same BASIC movement vocabulary.... (yes, I understand, as someone said previously... the "essence" is missing.... but the Turkish "essence" is very different from the Egyptian "essence".... as is their music, now that you mention it...

yet they are both considered "belly dance"... no??)

And don't classical ballet & modern ballet share many of the same steps, but vary in feeling (or "essence")?...
& they both fall under the title of ballet.....
what about the broad spectrum of dance that falls under the label of say Polynesian dance.... I see many different "essences" there.... (I wonder if they have these issues too?!!!?)
so I do understand someones confusion when she does not understand why ATS is not considered belly dance (except for the part about not using Middle Eastern Music.... I mean hello?!
that seems like a given?!)
except again using the ballet analogy... I have seen "ballets" done to very "un-balletic" (sorry is that even a word??) music... so what then makes that ballet... the steps??, the toe shoes? is EVERYthing on pointe considered ballet???? eeekkkk sorry, I digress....
so I guess my ? (or point(e) ;-)) would be.... if we can have Turkish Style, Egyptian style, etc. under the umbrella of belly dance..... is there not room for the American cousin????
......of course where do you draw the line? how far does the apple have to fall from it's ancestor to not be allowed under the belly dance umbrella?(I am thinking of all the fusion out there, but lots of them DO label themselves fusion.....) ooohhhh all these labels... my head hurts!....I must go dance now.
hey, just a thought... it would be cool if someone did a "family" tree of all the styles of belydance, trace what styles are related (or not!)


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Yay - Lene Lovich!!!! I remember her. Can't spell that squawky bit in "Lucky Number" but I'd put it here it if I could. :lol:


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A'isha, I'm not surprised you saw the beginning of this dance attire style earlier in California.

The coasts, north and south, were always way ahead of the backwater interior area I lived in, and both those fairs were the big 'uns, the grandpappies of all the other California Renfairs that began in the late '80s. Prior to that, belly dancing in my area was, if anything, associated with Armenian restaurants!

And I can only speak of the costuming -- it took some time for "tribal" style dancing to filter inland.
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