Saturday, July 23, 2011

improv tribal style workshop

"So there's this dancer who said to me, 'Hey, why are you still learning belly dance? You already know how to move! Why not focus on working as a bellydancer?' and all I could do was give a friendly smile and a nod," my friend told me the other day.

I looked at her with disbelief. "Wh... What?" I stuttered. "I mean, the money I get, either from performing or teaching, goes to costumes and taking classes and workshops!"

"My husband said the same thing! He said that all my money went to more costumes and more workshops!" she replied.

I know I've dedicated the last six months of my life learning ATS the FCBD way straight from the source, but when my friend told me about a dancer called Mihrimah Ghaziya and that she was doing ITS (Improv Tribal Style), I was intrigued. So, I signed up for Mihrimah's workshop and my belief is reconfirmed: you never stop learning new things.

Mihrimah's format of teaching is well-crafted and nicely laid-out - this has to be related to her vast teaching experience. She explained the dance and the movements very eloquently and even took the opportunity to tell the students briefly about the history of Tribal and Ms. Nericcio. Her structure and method made it easy even for those who had never tried bellydancing, let alone Tribal Style bellydancing.

I learned the different dialects for Egyptian Half Turn, Arabic, Arm Undulation and also the format and shape of the chorus. She also taught about "gathering the chorus" to circle together. A really cute thing was when we (as a chorus) all knelt on one knee when the song was about to end while the featured (solo) dancer was doing her thing. She said that her troupe did it once to a very shy student who finally took the lead; it was a way to encourage the shy dancer or give props to a dancer who just did a neat thing.

It is just amazing that even when her tribe is very far apart from the Mothership (Mihrimah's tribe is in Germany), she still regards the ATS rules with much respect: have solidarity, have trust, and always follow what your leader does, even though you know he/she is screwing up.

I admire her, for she is not only a generous teacher, but she is one of those people who dedicate their lives for the dance. She has become a world citizen, travelling around the globe, staying with the Kalbeliya Gypsies in India to learn their dance. Now that's dedication.

Mihrimah Ghaziya dancing a modern version of "The Peacock"

* Photo by Kusuma Dewi. L-R: Veronika, Desi (the organizer), Lia, Mihrimah, Yours Truly


Anonymous said...

So what is the dieffernce between ATS and ITS... Pray tell... :-)

famousfeline said...

American Tribal Style (ATS) is a dance form devised by Ms. Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance (FCBD). It is an improvisational (improv) type of dancing done in a duet, trio, or quartet (sometimes backed by a chorus).

Improv Tribal Style (ITS) takes the improv, cues and transition elements from ATS but does not necessarily do it FCBD style. BlackSheepBellyDance, Gypsy Caravan, and Unmata are fine forms of ITS. BSBD has leaders both on the front left (a la FCBD) and front right while Unmata performs group improv without zils (a must for ATS groups).

I hope it helps!

Febi Purnamasari said...

Zills! I start learning zills at BDJ these weeks. It was extremely hard to move while I have to clap the zills in rhymes. My mind and body are not synchronized. any tips?

anw, why it's a must for ATS dancers to use zills while dancing? could u tell me a bit abt the history? :)

salute for you, Kak!

famousfeline said...

During FCBD Teacher Training 2, I asked if it was mandatory for ATS troupes to use zills. Ms. Nericcio answered yes for one reason: because it added texture to the performance.

Even if we're dancing to canned music, the zilling makes it sound like a live music. Also, it makes the performance more exciting. Personally, when I'm dancing ATS, I feel naked without my zills (or 'zils' as FCBD spells it).

This may sound dangerous, but I practiced zilling while driving. It doesn't have to be to Mid-East songs, I practiced to Michael Jackson's Black or White - the song is not too fast, not too slow.

The key to zilling is practicing (like everything else). Practicing in the car is good because it muffles the sound of the zills. One of my FCBD teachers, Ms. Kristine Adams, suggested going to the beach and just walk while playing the zills.

During my ATS workshop, I introduced the zills to the participants, most of whom had never touched finger cymbals before, let alone danced with them. By the time the workshop ended, many of them could dance and zill at the same time. Some were even better than when I started out zilling three years ago.

I hope it helps and congratulations on your hafla!

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