When I first knew Zoe, I was the one who belly-danced.
I took belly-dancer for great exercise and camaraderie in the late 1970s. I never danced professionally, although I did act as a “wardrobe mistress” to a couple of dancer friends who did.
I learned from “Tahia” in Baltimore, MD from whom I took lessons for a a year and a half. I learned classic, traditional belly-dancing which had a five part presentation that was structured and well defined. In other words, the dance included: 1) an entrance, 2) baladi with veil work, 3) drum solo, 4) floor work and 5) a finale.
Although there were many variations and cultural offshoots such as the cane dance and snake dance, all belly-dance performers that I knew here on the east coast danced the five parts, always with zils or finger cymbals. Now, lets talk about how Zoe belly-danced.
Zoe danced Tribal Style belly-dancing, dressing
with robes, turbans and lots of jewelry.
When I use to take Zoe’s dance workshops, it was for therapeutic movement and spiritual connection with the divine feminine not for belly-dancing. After I left New York in the early 1990s, Zoe learned belly-dance by taking lessons in Tribal Style. She excelled at everything she did and conquer belly-dance as well, becoming well known in Central New York for her dancing. Tribal belly-dancing costumes tend to be dark, plain fabrics, with ethnic handmade jewelry and headgear. If you are interested in the costuming, this is a great site for patterns and suggestions, click here.
No, I’m not saying I danced this well!
The above video is an example of the type of dance I learned and costume I wore. This is the 1st Place winner “Dovile” in the Queen of the Pyramid competition in Lithuania. Here is her web site. Her skirt is more modest with full skirts, letting very little leg show. Her costume is light and shimmery with sequins and lame fabrics. Her bra and dance belt are worn with her skirts and with a veil that she has dropped by this point in the dance. But, the overall effect is light and performance base, dancing to please the audience.
A circus performer, Jamila Salimpour, started Tribal
Dance in California. She was a great showman. Her
dance troupe danced at cabarets and renaissance fairs.
The costumes were, and continue to be, dark and ethnic.
In the 1960s, Jamila Salimpour, who had a middle eastern background and who was a circus performer, decided to form a troupe of belly-dancers and ethnic Middle Eastern music to dance at renaissance fairs on the West Coast. Jamila’s troupe emphasized the music and dancing of nomadic tribes, who would dance in their everyday garments.
Zoe in the middle, with one of her dance classes.
Jamila’s players also took to creative costuming, adorning themselves with plain fabrics, mainly colored black, rather than the colorful layers of sheer chiffon found in classic belly-dancing. A great variety of garments became popular as Jamila’s dance style spread across the United States. Tribal garments are not adorned in a performance style, but to please the whim of the dancer. Dancers express themselves through their costume choice and jewelry display. If the costumes interest you, they can be purchased by clicking here.
Fat Chance Belly-dance is a studio considered the
originators of the American Tribal Style, or ATS.
American Tribal Style Belly Dance is clearly defined and documented as having been created by Fat Chance Belly Dance in California with the primary characteristic being that of group improvisation. ATS is generally performed in a group, often at community events, with a number of dancers on stage. The group acts as a chorus with dancers in ones, twos and threes, coming forward to dance as the rest dance in the background. ATS dancers typically favoring a look provided by wide-legged pants gathered at the ankles, open backed tops known as cholis, full skirts, taselled belts and much jewelry.
Here are dancers from YouTube, Elena Safae e Vanessa Amira,
taking the tribal style in a Goth direction.
As belly-dance evolves into different forms and styles, no telling what we’ll see next. On YouTube there are hundreds of great videos showing vintage and current performances of all different “flavors.” Here’s a teaching video from the ELLEN Show where you can learn a few steps.
Ellen learns to belly-dance and you can , too!