All of those things: the fabrics, the jewelry, the books, and most importantly, the dance, wouldn’t exist without Carolena Nericcio, the lady behind Tribal style, behind Tribal fusion, behind it all.
It began in 1974 when a young Carolena studied bellydance with the now renowned jewelry designer, Masha Archer. Masha blended Egyptian style with folkloric moves and other dances she found enticing. Carolena joined the SF Classic Dance Troupe, Masha’s dance company. When the troupe later disbanded, Carolena went to teach on her own. Based on the movements she learned from Masha (that Carolena held as the gospel truth in belly dance), she expanded her repertoires and in 1987 began performing with her own troupe, FatChanceBellyDance.
“The philosophy of ATS is about leaders and followers dancing in total improvisation setting, but seamlessly, as if choreographed. It is achievable by learning sets of slow movements and fast steps and the cue that precedes them,” Carolena said, explaining the “flock of birds” concept. This way, a group of people who have never met each other before and don’t speak the same language can perform ATS bellydance together.
It may sound like magic, but it actually is not. It is pure hard work and dedication. This dance form has suffered lashings from bellydancers (“the purists”), but it perseveres. This dance form has suffered lashings from its offsprings (“the tribalists”), but it perseveres yet again. It has enchanted many dancers from around the world. Even non-English speaking dancers know ATS.
In my little spot on the left of the bookshelf I sat with the recorder in my hand. In front of me was Carolena, poised to answer my eager questions. And so, here it is: our little interview on that rainy day on a Thursday afternoon.
Continued next Thursday, April 14th, 2011, "The Hard Questions". Ms. Nericcio talks about how a movement is adapted into FCBD's movement vocabulary, the dos and don'ts of ATS teachers and students, as well as what makes ATS great.