Posts Tagged ‘Tribal Fusion’

I’m back….With ATTITUDE.

January 28, 2009

And speaking of cold, Montreal was.  And windy.  However, it was a very interesting city, with some very interesting people.

I’m glad to be back in Atlanta for many, many reasons.  5 days gone doing anything, pleasurable or not, is too long to leave home.  And what a pile of laundry (the airlines have lost our two checked bags…) and cleaning I face.

Over the week  remaining, I am going to break up reporting events, only because I know that there are people that read this blog who are interested in what happened in those 5 days.  Mostly belly dancers and the usual perverts (friends).

The 4 hour workshop with Audra Simmons was incredible.  I learned more in those 4 hours than I have learned in a month of heavy classes.

I thought that it would be straight Tribal Fusion, but I was mistaken.  It had a LOT of flamenco techniques, attitude and of course, the hated routines.  However, I was surprised ol’  Teela could keep up with the youngsters, with only one 15 minute workshop break.

I did, but only because Audra made the class so damn  interesting. I just flew through it, and even my stumbling on the choreography smoothed out eventually.  It was the toughest class I have EVER taken, but it was the absolute best one, too.

Audra is a trip.  Older, with a background in ballet, Turkish/Egyptian and other techniques….she really worked the bejesus out of us girls. Sweat and pain was flying around the room for 4 hours.

One of the major points she pushed is this one of  “attitude”.  So many times we are dancing without it…we are just going through the motions, worrying about the steps, what comes next in a routine, and our faces show it.  Our bodies show it.  This is NOT what being a good belly dance is all about.

Attitude is the expression of our joy and our claiming the dance.  Our individuality and pushing that into focus.  We dance before others, but we should be dancing for our lives!  Our joy and expertise should be present and all important to us.  Don’t worry about getting every part of the choreography right, it doesn’t matter (when you are performing individually….’showboating it’) that every step and movement is remembered as practiced…

It’s the claiming, the lyrical/breathing/excitement you present.

I saw all body shapes there: sagging bellies, etc. and it really didn’t matter.  When you UNDERSTAND dance, you understand the transformation of the physical body, what it ‘looks’ like…into the marvelous and complex illusion of WHAT IT IS.

This was what was so impressive.  It was ATTITUDE.

Mentally I was flying, I was claiming my own Attitude, my own interpretation of the dance, my own contribution to this marvelous, healing, transforming thing we do called Belly Dance.

And it is healing.  And in the next few days, I would need that.  I would need to keep my joy at what I could do and strengthen my resolve not to lose sight of myself.  To know I would come through.

Sometimes ‘attitude’ ain’t pretty.  But it keeps your head above water, it can be the only life preserver around, and you throw it to yourself while in deep, confusing, troubling and alien waters.

Bless you, Audra, Woman with Attitude.  You take no prisoners.

Teela with a fresh Attitude, and holding on to it firmly today.

A Plug!!!!! This morning I have received

November 24, 2008

a number of emails, queries about belly dancing…and from a man, too!

Not that I would want to see this man belly dancing, but he is all about ‘all things female’…so he’s allowed.

But not in the studio~! That is like a harem in there…..and you would have to leave your testicles outside in a bucket….

The Plug: I bought a while ago, a dvd called “Luscious” The Belly Dance Workout (for beginners)……probably from…

This is an amazing dvd. Although stating it’s for beginners, it is one of the very BEST dvd’s on bellydance I have ever seen. One of the things it does is NOT portray isolations ‘in’ isolation. It’s part of a continuous movement of dance…where it is incorporated in the general muscle memory.

I LOVE this disc. So why am I not watching it all the time??? It is damn hard. It moves fast, but not so fast you can’t concentrate on pieces….that is what the stop and reverse buttons are for.

However, as much as I bitch that it’s hard, it’s hands down one of the most beautiful displays of sensual bellydancing I have ever seen….in continuous performance….and broken down…it’s easy enough.

I would advise anyone..male or female….to go to their website and see the promo. It is fantastic, not the least the dancers…gorgeous women all.

This is classical bellydancing…and I am gnashing my tooths that I am going into Tribal Fusion right now.

Ahhhh…who knows….but this disc is a lovely learning tool and applicable to all levels of dancers….


Goddesses in Belly Dancers…..

November 24, 2008

I’m going to start some entries in a couple of days based on some reading and communication I have been having with other Belly Dancers, both locally and nationally.

I spoke with Delilah Flynn, a primo Belly Dancer in Seattle, Washington about a year ago….can’t remember exactly when, the first time….but I remember her practical enthusiasm on the phone. I say practical, because Delilah is a professional of many years standing and not much rocks her off balance. She is a marvelous dancer, but more….she’s a concerned and dedicated woman to the development of woman period. And particularly dancers.

Recently on her website, “Delilah Belly Dance Studio yahoo groups”….she has had a discussion up about the concepts of the 7 different Greek Goddesses in women. Part of this comes from the discussion and reading of Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD….book called “Goddesses in EveryWoman”.

I just happen to have this book around. Haven’t read it completely, but these next few days will do so.

Dr. Bolen is a psychotherapist of many years who has been concentrating on the issues of women in our society. The yearnings, frustrations and blockages that don’t seem to be answered by Freudian means and ways.

This concept of “Goddess” in modern women isn’t new…in fact it’s over 3000 years old. I remember picking up this book in the late 80’s and saying…”yeah, right.”

However, I am very open to reconsidering this whole concept again. These myths persist for a reason down through the ages.

Delilah and other instructors are using this concept with their intermediate students to tap into some very remarkable and creative experiences.

With Delilah’s permission, I am going to quote something here that is being developed in these different classes:

Each dancer has been working on a dance dedicated to a Goddess archetype from reading various books we have been using. Each class has been about honing intuitive dance skills and exercises that draw the spiritual side of the dancer out more than usual. This on- going work is to foster a community service group of dancers who can do good deeds in society and share belly dance as soul candy not just eye candy. The Goddess theme for this class has been very educational in developing inner landscape imagination and conscious awareness.
Last night I drug out a guided meditation I wrote in the early 90’s. I had not seen it for years. It involves taking everyone on a guided journey into their imagination to meet 7 Goddess all surrounded in settings that are fitting to their myths and symbolism. On this journey each Goddess gives each dancer a gift and at the end of the narration the dancers recount the 7 gifts and awaken at the sound of a bell and beautiful music. Then each dancer slowly rises to begin a dance of gratitude for all her gifts! We danced for 15 minutes and then did a little sharing about the gifts we received. Very fun.
What struck me was how the feeling of gratitude inhabits my muscles and bones. I realized it the predominant muse for most of my dancing.”
Oh Delilah and Dea and others: I know the feeling. Lately I seem to go into a trance while dancing to some particular Chakra Chants by Russell Paul that just float through my body and mind and reach me at a different level. The feeling of balance and joy I get with some particular movements/chord progression is gratifying…and comes around to a dancer who is very grateful to those influences that push her forward to create in new forms.
These 7 Goddesses are Artemis, Athena, Hestia, Hera, Demeter, Persephone and Aphrodite….They all have traits that have been recognized as ‘set’ throughout history. What is new here is that Dr. Bolen recognizes that there are applications for modern women to empower and understand themselves with a study of these Myth/Goddesses.
And the good news is that all women have any number of these Goddesses within, at different times, at different ages, for different issues. Tapping into their traits can explain and give direction to us for our behaviors and for our aspirations.
This blog will explore each of the Goddesses and combinations as I read, research and discuss with other dancers (and woman) these applications.
Should be fun what we come up with.
Preparing for the late Montreal Workshop with Audra Simmons and the technique of Tribal Fusion makes me realize the cultural influences in all of this dancing and music. Very different from the Turkish/Egyptian influences, but how wonderful and new nonetheless.
I admit that I am damn scared….scared at the radical rupture with what I know of dancing, and attempting something new, and something that looks very, very intense.
I grow as a woman and as a dancer because of the marvelous community of dancers all over our continent. Actually, the web brings us together in such immediate ways. This only can propel the dance to better, broader and more challenging levels.
I am known here as a writer, but I also know that there are times I feel lost and a bit misplaced in life. The world is big. However, knowing the belly dance community and being embraced by them gives me a compass and a path.
Thank you, Delilah. And thank you for your personal encouragement in my writing, thinking and dancing. It means much coming from you.
Teela/Lady Nyo/Jane

Belly Dance and Spiritual Seekings…

October 2, 2008

I have been a belly dancer for about five years now, trained in Turkish/Egyptian style.  I find that it is more challenging than anything I have ever done.  It also taps into great issues of femininity and sexuality.

Over the years I have changed in my approach to dancing, and have grown in small ways.  This is not a discipline that you get fast results, well you do, but women start to dance in Middle Eastern countries and Africa at 3 years old.  Young girls watch village women dance at festivals and train all their lives.

Belly dance was not the dance of enticement that we Westerners supposed.  It came from birth movements, or exercise to strengthen the body, the pelvis to allow easier birth.  These things are important when there is no hospital around but ‘just’ the village midwife and women to attend birthing.

However, dance has always been a religious or spiritual expression in many countries.  Hindu temple dancers, the Bali dancers, the Zars in Egypt and other countries, the guerdra forms express the application to movement to spiritual practice.

Delilah is a Seattle bellydancer I have talked to for a while.  She is well trained and quite the professional.  She also preaches dance as a spiritual connection.  Connection with spirituality isn’t something you try on like a new costume. It’s a transcendental everyday practice for her.

As she says: “It opens the heart.”

Earlier this summer I attended a synagogue.  There were young girls in a front corner of the synagogue dancing all through the service.  It was fitting and lovely.  It amazed me how natural these dances were in this setting and how much it gave a sense of joy and purpose to the morning.
The Lutheran and Episcopalian denominations of Christianity have been progressive in introducing liturgical dance to the altar at their church services. Although most of their dance workshops are focused on modern and ballet, some Middle Eastern dance artists have successfully introduced this art form to their congregations as liturgical dance.  The costuming is not the usual nightclub garb, but more modest clothing.  They are able to create a mood of worship.

The Unitarian church has long supported the use of dance at the altar.

These are just Christian and Jewish models.

I have thought very recently of my own practices.  I have, as I grew older, looked for spiritual paths.  As a former Quaker, these were not movement based, but as a belly dancer, the world opens up for me in this.

I have attended one Zar-like event, where a woman danced out her possession.  The ‘spirit’ was ‘caught’ by a women who was a Sheikah.

Why not?  This was a deeply believed experience, and the woman who was formerly possessed by what her culture said was a demonic spirit was ‘healed’.  These Zars have come under attack all over the Middle East, but not for good reasons.  They are some of the only alternative spiritual events that Muslim women have besides the mosque.  They are born of centuries of tradition and go back to Egyptian and African practices.  They are very much spiritual in nature.

I think of my own practice, and I know that dancing transforms my thinking, my moods and in some very fundamental way, grounds me.  It also transforms me, my body over a period of time, but my head. too. I think my head even more fundamentally.

I think my dancing, that strength that comes from doing something you love and seeing the remarkable abilities and potential of your body to move in ways you never thought possible translates to something akin to spiritual.

It also translates into self-esteem and an internal core of strength to face others who will challenge you. I had a pretty good sense of self before, but dancing has come through at a time I thought I was losing it.  It is very much a part of my personality now and it has the greatest potential for further spiritual development.

I think of how dancing transforms me.  In public, people tell me that my facial expression is very different from my ‘normal’ day ‘look’ and I have to laugh.  I am sometimes in a trance when I dance, or when I drum.  This is nothing unusual, because particular beats, rhythms, in particular the ayyoub beat or rhythm throws a dancer into a very different state of mind.  Sometimes this is helpful to get through a five minute performance. You conserve energy by ‘going places’. But mostly, it is the ‘connection’ you are making with the music internally, and it is the essence of dance to me.

Consciously applied, it has great spiritual possibilities I believe. I know it, as other dancers have either told me their spiritual path through their dancing or I have read of it.

I am about to do something very radical and risky for Teela (my dance name) I am about to chuck most of what I have learned over the past five years and endeavour to learn something very new and exciting.  I think it is part of this spiritual quest.

In late January, I will be in Montreal, Canada to attend a workshop/conference and a Dance event.  This is a Tribal Fusion Dance event taught by Audra Simmons, a TF dancer based in Toronto.  This will be a radical rupture for me because much of what I have learned will not apply.

Tribal Fusion is very different from classical belly dance.  The arms are very different, the body is held differently, there is a great freedom of flow in the core that I don’t see in  Turkish technique.  The makeup is extreme, the tattoos are prominant (I wonder if you can get stick on temporary tattoos???) the costuming is wild, the snake movement of the belly (“Snakes in the Belly”) is extreme, everything about tribal is different and extreme.

And exciting!

Go to Youtube and watch anything by Rachel Brice.

This is good for starters…

I am embarking on strange territory, and all my expensive cabaret costumes will be ditched…or thrown in the back of the closet.

It’s time for  a radical change that will bring me closer to my core and outward towards the Spirit and back again.

Teela and Lady in the same woman.

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