Is ATS . . . boring?

AyaKara

New member
I've been watching videos of my town's FCBD (our only BD studio) & I'm really excited to start in December -- I'm attending a workshop held by them tomorrow -- but, when watching their videos, I can't help but feel like it's . . . boring. :confused:

They do a lot of spins, hip work, & zills, but all of the videos I've seen of Tribe Hamsa seem to involve a lot of the same things every performance. Although I will definitely stay with them for the foundation in ATS, I feel like I'll eventually move on to BellyQueen within a year or two.

Here's an example of 3 Tribe Hamsa performances. Is ATS really like this, or is it just them? :think:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=005O170KO5k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcoorAYMOOE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QThYMNjLhRg

I'm all for group performances, but I feel that ATS (from what Tribe Hamsa is showing me) is very . . . simple, while still maintaining that certain celebratory flair & vibe of a group of women that are happy & love themselves & those around them.

For the record, I would be doing Egyptian or Cabaret style but ATS is the only one available until late 2013/ 2014. I love ATS' improvisational dance & their fashion, just not what I'm seeing right now :lol:
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Tribal does get a LOT more complex than that, but... I am told that once you are very familiar with it, you can usually tell what the dancers will do for any given part of the music. That's both a strength and a weakness. It's a strength because it can help make the style that much easier to perform in public and it tends to make the un-dance-educated public feel that the style is comfortable and familiar, meaning that they are more receptive to it. It is a weakness because it can make it more difficult to be creative (which is probably why tribal fusion evolved).

I think I'll pm you with the rest of what I have to say...
 

Jane

New member
Matter of taste. Some Tribal dancers think straight belly dance is boring. I'm not drawn to Tribal myself. Not everyone is the same and that's okay. Do what moves you.
 

AyaKara

New member
Thank you for your replies! Jane, do you think that I should forgo the ATS classes entirely? I'd still get training in the fundamentals of BD & a lot of other skills (zills, swords, veils, etc.) as well as learning how to improvise well (even if it is in a very different fashion than regular improvisation), & to me, those skills are very important.

I just watched a video of Carolena that Darshiva was so kind to give to me -- I'm glad to see that they do incorporate other BD moves in ATS, but for the most part, it's similar to what I saw with Tribe Hamsa. Maybe I'll need to experience ATS before I can judge, but so far I feel like it's not for me :confused:
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Definitely watch a lot more tribal before commiting money to it. But honestly if Carolena, Devi and other tribal dancers of their calibre don't make you want to dance tribal, nothing will.
 

Aniseteph

New member
I always wonder if Tribal is more fun to do than it can be to watch. But I agree, personal taste is a big part. If it's not your thing...

Tribal improv skills seem to me to be a completely different animal to oriental improv. I mean, unless you are leading isn't it more about getting good at picking up cues? That's the sort of skill we use when we are following the bouncing butt in class - after several years you get quite good at picking up what's coming next, but it's not much help when you are on your own with your mind going blank.
 

AyaKara

New member
Darshiva, I've spent all night watching ATS & researching more & decided that I don't want to do it . . . But, it's the only one available (within 5-10 minutes of me) unless I commute, which as a working student that's already very hard to have the time for (1 hour of commute) :confused:

Aniseteph, I was thinking the same thing! I want to be able to dance well & be able to improv, not just follow the leader. :(

I decided that I'm going to do the ATS classes for the beginner level & then decide what to do from then on.
 

Silverfyre

New member
Hi there AyaKara :)

As a student of ATS for the past 2 and half years I thought I'd chip in! Like the other ladies said, eveyone is different, I personally can't imagine how anyone could find ATS boring but then, I find Tribal Fusion quite boring....that's just me, nothing against the style, it's just not my thing!

In ATS you have set moves like basic egyptian, arabic shimmy, camel walk etc., so there will be some overlap in performances as we all use the same moves, what I find makes it different and exiting is the endless combinations one can make from the moves and how dancers interpret the music. It's more than just learning to pick up cues well, although that is part of it of course, you will be able to improv and just dance. It's kind of hard to explain actually now I try to :lol:

It may seem boring to some to watch but dancing it is a whole other thing, I love that I can just meet up with other dancers and just dance in the moment without rehearsing at all. Are there drop in classes available? Or maybe meet up with the instructor before hand and have a chat and see if you might wanna give it a try? The best way to experience it fully would be to give it a go, but of course it's hard to commit money to something you are unsure of.

Whatever you decide just follow your heart, and like Jane said "do what moves you" :)

Good luck
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I decided that I'm going to do the ATS classes for the beginner level & then decide what to do from then on.
I can sympathize completely but think positively, the teacher seems to be very skilled and no matter what else you do you will come out of the experience with killer arms and basic zill skills. :D
 

AyaKara

New member
That's exactly right, Ariadne :lol:

Silverfyre, I actually met my instructor today at her (canceled) workshop! She stayed with me (the only person that came :shok: ) for the entire 2 hours, so I got to learn a lot more about ATS, about her, her experiences, etc. It was very fun! :D

I told her my feelings toward ATS & she said that ATS (& FCBD, which her school is a sister school) is very low-impact -- she encouraged me to try Cabaret because I'm looking for something that will really challenge my body in complex ways that ATS doesn't. Both she & one member of her troupe agreed that what made ATS so special was that it provided a sense of womanhood & strength that the other styles didn't do for them . . . & its fashion too, of course. :)

So, I'm going to do the beginner's classes in December & January, & once school starts up again, I'm going to begin training at BellyQueen. :dance:
 

Jane

New member
Jane, do you think that I should forgo the ATS classes entirely? I'd still get training in the fundamentals of BD & a lot of other skills (zills, swords, veils, etc.) as well as learning how to improvise well (even if it is in a very different fashion than regular improvisation), & to me, those skills are very important.
I think you should try ATS (or any other dance style or exercise program if you want to). *BUT* the fundamentals of ITS and ATS are not the same as Egyptian/Turkish/Lebanese Oriental dance and not much of anything will carry over. It may not even carry over into American Oriental (Cabaret) because it's such a loose terminology for Americanized belly dance and there are several dance styles they could be based in- and not all of which are even Middle Eastern. The prop idea also won't carry over very much, each of those items you mentioned are used, or even not used at all, in a unique way in each type of belly dance.

ITS and ATS are very unique. The few movements we still have in common are generated differently in the body and the musicality isn't the same. You have to accept ITS and ATS as their own beautiful art dances on their own terms.

I'm not saying don't do it, but there isn't a lot of common ground between Oriental and ITS anymore and that gap seems to widening with time. Just know what you want and go in educated with clear expectations of what you will learn in each discipline.
 

Kashmir

New member
People who don't know belly dance see the ATS costumes and just go "wow!". People who know belly dance may be impressed the first couple of times - and enjoy the spectacle but eventually come away feeling unsatisfied. All that work to produce a clean, together piece of theatre - but something is definitely missing. It just doesn't have the belly dance feeling. Partly because unless it is a very experienced group they have to stick to a small number of combinations drilled really well. Partly because the music is often limited in emotional expression. Partly because often the dancers do not connect with the audience.

All that said, many people enjoy doing ATS. Being part of the group; moving as one really does it for some people. If you aren't a herd animal it won't be for you.

But yes, hell for me would be a whole show with nothing but ATS.
 

AyaKara

New member
Jane, I see what you mean. If you read my post above yours, I met with the instructor today & talked to her about it. I've spent all night looking at ATS & it just isn't me (Kashmir, I agree with you & everything you said in the post directly above this!). I'm definitely going to go to BellyQueen as soon as possible & carve out my BD path there. & of course, stick with the Egyptian classes at school. :)
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
All that said, many people enjoy doing ATS. Being part of the group; moving as one really does it for some people. If you aren't a herd animal it won't be for you.
I am, at heart, primarily an American Cabaret Belly Dancer. With that said, I also do Folkloric, Gypsy, and Gothic Tribal Fusion. I was in an ATS class for awhile - before they went all Dianic on me and decided that my male anatomy was incompatible with the dance. But I'd like to do more ATS - there is something very powerful about synchronized group Belly Dancing.
 

Jane

New member
I'm sure I'm in the minority but the "hive mind" feel is the main turn off for me with ITS/ATS. I was in the military for four years and functioning as a unit was necessary. In dance I want to feel like an individual and express myself within the context of the music and what I'm feeling at the moment.

ATS feels more about expressing group unity than physically showing the music. It's just not my cup of tea. YMMV ;)
 

teela

New member
I finally got a chance to see ATS performed live. What I noticed most was that the music tended to have a strong beat throughout the piece and had very little musical variation. The dance moves were basically the same ones at the same tempo and did not allow for much musical interpretation by the dancers. This may be the attraction for many people but I would not find it satisfying for myself. To each his own.
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I've seen very good and very bad tribal performances. The very good were wow even after the years of research I've put in to figuring out if I even want to try this branch of bellydance or not. The bad, well they were reminiscent of every other bad performance I've seen everywhere.

Actually, that's pretty much why I chose BSBD over all the other commercially available variants as my intended direction of study - Kajira gives it such a strong tie-in to bellydance that I feel that I will be able to transfer over my bellydance skills to it with minumal fuss.

But I agree - it does have a familial/community feel to the group and that is a very strong part of the appeal. If that doesn't appeal to you, then it will probably never be magical to you.
 

Silverfyre

New member
I am a dedictaed ATS dancer and I am in no way a "herd animal"!! Describing ATS dancers as herd animals is a pretty poor analysis of the dance.

I don't just enjoy doing ATS either, I enjoy watching it be performed whereas I have watched some more traditional styles be performanced and I just do not see the attraction. And I could think of nothing more enjoyable than a whole show of ATS :D

Anyhoo AyaKara, I hope you enjoy your classes and learn lots :) even if ATS isn't your thing hopefully you will be able to take something away from it.
 

Amulya

Moderator
I really liked it when I saw life ATS for the first time (well it was maybe ITS, but it's so long ago, the term ITS didn't exist yet)
It was a troupe in Seattle, Gypsy Caravan, they were so energic, happy and totally different from anything I ever saw before (I was still living in Holland and ATS/ITS/tribal Fusion didn't exist there yet) I really enjoyed it :D
I took classes with two teachers there in Seattle and really enjoyed dancing with them.

Over time I started to get a bit bored with these styles (not tribal fusion though). I guess the newness had gone off and it wasn't really my thing, otherwise I would still have loved it.
But seeing a good ATS or ITS troupe is still fun, but not something I'd watch all the time. I agree that a lot are very serious and turned inwards, as an audience member you kind of feel left out. Which other styles don't do.
 
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Aniseteph

New member
I agree that a lot are very serious and turned inwards, as an audience member you kind of feel left out. Which other styles don't do.
Agreed. Some of it comes across as inclusive and bonded for the group but very excluding to everyone else, which IMO is strange if you are doing it in a show as entertainment.

Even not-so-great traditional style troupes, while they may not be connecting with the audience any better, they don't have that close focus on each other. Although I think some of them could do with a bit more, as long as it's not to the exclusion of the audience.
 
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