Tribal Bellydance

Tribal Bellydance is a modern genre created in the 1970’s in the San Francisco area, California. First created to connect back to the roots of bellydance – women dancing for other women along the silk roads, it has evolved in a unique form of celebration of sisterhood under the influence of feminist ideals aiming to take this art form out of the cabarets onto theatre stages. Tribal Bellydance is all about empowering women in their dance, celebrating the feminine power, and go away from the reduction of the bellydancer to a sexual object.

Gwenaël’s interpretation of Tribal Bellydance is actually an eclectic one, ranging from ATS® to Indian Bellydance fusions, via theatrical Tribal Fusion or contemporary bellydance, as a reflection of her personality.

American Tribal Style or ATS®

ATS® is an improvisational group style. The dancers share the same move vocabulary and same dynamics grammar, so that they can dance together to any piece of music, and look as synchronised as if it were choreographed.

It was named “Tribal” to reflect the spirit of this style : a dance that can’t be done solo, in which all dancers strive to erase their individuality for the greater strength of the group, or tribe.

The moves and rules of ATS® have been established by Carolena Nerricio, founder of FatChance Bellydance, in San Francisco, USA. They have been inspired by traditional Middle Eastern dances moves as well as Flamenco and Silk Road Gypsy dances. Although the FatChance format is considered as the “pure” ATS®, some troupes who developed their own format, using the ATS® frame as a foundation. They then use some others acronyms (eg. ITS, GIS) to describe their style, and differentiate it from ATS®.


Tribal Fusion

Tribal Fusion is the logical evolution of ATS®. Strongly rooted in the ATS® philosophy and vocabulary, Tribal Fusion allows the dancer to choreograph pieces, and to infuse it with whatever influences the dancer fins inspiration into : hip-hop, Indian dances, modern dance, etc.

The major icon of this style is Rachel Brice and the Indigo, who popularized the use of Suhaila Salimpour’s technique in this style. This technique is based on high muscle control in order to create sharp and precise isolations, which have now become a tribal fusion signature.

Even though the Indigos have become the worldwide reference for Tribal Fusion, the genre is not limited to their interpretation. There are a lot of other very popular styles like Gothic, Burlesque or Urban Contemporary styles. One may even tempted to say there are as many tribal fusions styles as there are tribal fusions dancers …

To learn more about the history of this genre :