What is Tribal Bellydance

What is Tribal Bellydance

Sue is a tribal bellydancer who performs with a sword on her chin (now illegal in public, boo hiss). Bellydancing comes in many forms; it’s a historic and recently modernised art that encompasses tribal bellydance, gothic bellydance, cyberfusion and more. Be brave. Get your undulations out for the lads (and lasses)…

Bellydancing is actually better termed Middle Eastern (Arabic) Dance or Raqs Sharqi. It is believed to have evolved from dances for fertility and childbirth and has picked up many influences and interpretations from the Middle East, India and Northern Africa to the form we know today. It is a dance for women, by women (although there are male dancers) and the name ‘bellydance’ derives from the French ‘danse du ventre’ as the midriff was bare to show the undulations and movements of the hips.

To bring you smack bang up to date with the Raqs Sharqi scene worldwide today, it is BIG. Very big. And also very varied. You can have your ‘traditional’ cabaret dancer (who usually dances solo wearing the sparkly 2 piece or ‘bedlah’) but there is a growing world of Tribal, Fusion, Goth and Belly-burlesque. And it’s all here, right under your nose in the UK!

Tribal style is probably characterised by the group Fat Chance Belly Dance who pioneered American Tribal Style. With elaborate costumes and turbans and belts with tassels and pom-poms, they have a unique way of communicating between a lead dancer and the rest of the ‘tribe’.

Tribal fusion involves dancing and performing to music that is not traditionally Middle Eastern and performing eye-watering, isolated undulations and moves which are all perfectly controlled. Rachel Brice, Sharon Kihara and Kami Liddle are very famous in this form of dance.

However, the above are American ladies…

The UK’s very own Dawn O’Brien has developed cyber-fusion and she also has a tribal fusion group based in the West Midlands called Khalgani.

For Goths, check out Gothla UK, a series of workshops and performances by top gothic dancers from all over the world – Tempest, Sashi, Akasha – to name a few.

British Tribal Style is a new style, specifically a “celebration of the eccentricity and unique styles of Arabic Dancers in the British Isles” and is led by The Twisterhood.

Bellydancers come in all shapes, ages and forms, we are tattooed (or not), pierced (or not), goth (or not) but we are all unique and all have something to add to Raqs Sharqi. Go find yourself a class, watch vids on YouTube, buy a DVD or trawl the ‘net for information and get yourself hooked on this beautiful form of self-expression. You can dance with veils, swords, candles, zills and canes. As long as you stay true to yourselves, the beauty of the dance, and the world-wide tribe of sister bellydancers out there you won’t go far wrong…

Tribal Bellydance links

Photography for The Twisterhood: Polstar on Flickr xxx