What is Tribal Fusion -- TO YOU!

Aziyade

New member
So I've been experimenting with and enjoying some ATS classes lately, but the big part of what I enjoy about the whole concept is the energy of the group -- the group dynamic. Being so focused on body awareness that you seem to kind of lose yourself and find yourself responding to those visual cues unawares.

(I call it Tribal Tarab - lol!)

Now, I have an extensive background working under Suhaila, and working with her concepts, so I thought it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to branch out and experiment with "Tribal Fusion" dancing (the parameters of which I haven't really defined in my head yet.) So I started in ATS classes.

My conundrum is this: If Tribal is about the Group Dynamic, which everyone seems to agree on, and Tribal Fusion is sometimes regarded as Solo Tribal -- then what exactly IS Tribal Fusion? In YOUR eyes -- not according to the definition on some website. Without looking for the feel of the group dynamic, what feeling should I be looking for?

Is there a Philosophy of Movement that has developed for Tribal Fusion? Like, is it supposed to be about the relationship between contraction and relaxation or expansion? (Just an example.)

Could you say there are certain Dance Concepts that are embodied by Tribal Fusion? If it is considered a response to another dance (as some people argue) then what about the "other" dance is it responding to?

I know these days TF is sort of the generic term for "that which is not ATS or Cabaret" but I think the people who are actively involved in this style HAVE to have a better understanding of it as something more than just "not something else." Ya know?

As I'm taking these ATS classes, I'd like to be able to think about them also in relation to how they would translate into Tribal Fusion, but I'm not really understanding that, so ...

Help?

Any thoughts?
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I know it when I see it? Yeah not helpful.

For me what makes it Tribal Fusion rather then Urban or World Fusion is the body language, the posture. Tribal has a very distinctive posture and movements that just scream Tribal. The dancing that uses that as the foundation that the rest of the solo dance comes from, the accent, for me is Tribal Fusion.

As for philosophy of movement Tribal Fusion has a sleekness or smoothness to it's movements that is unique. When I watch a skilled Tribal Fusion dancer I think of a cat uncoiling from a nap or slinking through the grass.

For the record I am not a Tribal Fusion or Tribal dancer. I do love watching it though and nothing is more irritating that someone who does a "TF" performance where there is no visible "Tribal".
 

Aziyade

New member
I know it when I see it? Yeah not helpful.
LOL. I mean, I know it to recognize it -- but without the "tribe" vibe, what is left? Does that make any sense?

As for philosophy of movement Tribal Fusion has a sleekness or smoothness to it's movements that is unique. When I watch a skilled Tribal Fusion dancer I think of a cat uncoiling from a nap or slinking through the grass.
Someone once suggested to me the "philosophy" was contraction and release. This makes a certain amount of sense, if you look at certain performers. The sleekness could be the basis of another philosophy, but seen in other performers. There's a really hard edge to some performers too. so ...

nothing is more irritating that someone who does a "TF" performance where there is no visible "Tribal".
Agreed, but when we say that, are we talking:

Visible Tribal = Obvious MOVEMENTS or stylings from ATS/ITS

or

Visible Tribal = Some kind of aesthetic reminiscent of the GROUP ?


It's kind of funny: We talk about how Oriental dance is "not just movement" but then when we start talking about Tribal, it seems that it's ALL ABOUT the movement (and the GROUP if it's ATS/ITS, and to a much lesser degree the costuming.) And with Tribal Fusion -- it's movement but with something else ... that I can't figure out. I suspect there IS a philosophy there, but maybe it's still in process?

I'm thinking maybe Tribal Fusion is just too nebulous a term to try and make generalizations about, especially since it is often a catch-all term. Or maybe my experience with ATS Tribal is still too superficial to really "get it" yet. ?
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
LOL. I mean, I know it to recognize it -- but without the "tribe" vibe, what is left? Does that make any sense?
Absolutely. That is why when I see TF without the Tribal if it's not a hot mess I usually think Urban/World Fusion.


Someone once suggested to me the "philosophy" was contraction and release. This makes a certain amount of sense, if you look at certain performers. The sleekness could be the basis of another philosophy, but seen in other performers. There's a really hard edge to some performers too. so ...
Even with less "sleek" performers I still sense a... how do you put it, control? Like even when they are "at rest" they have utter control over every muscle just coiled and waiting. To me that is very "cat" like. Maybe that is just how the "contract and release" translates to my eyes. I see it in the serpentine as well as the harder performers.


Agreed, but when we say that, are we talking:

Visible Tribal = Obvious MOVEMENTS or stylings from ATS/ITS
Absolutely.

AND (not or)
Visible Tribal = Some kind of aesthetic reminiscent of the GROUP ?
Aesthetic? I believe so but that is the part that is harder to explain isn't it? With Egyptian style it's very easy because you can point to a culture and say "this", with other styles it's not so simple. I took a few hours to think this over and I wonder if that is a combination of the Turkish plus the Flamenco influence. I know some people hear that they fused Flamenco into Tribal and they wonder where the Flamenco is but all they're talking about is the moves, I see it oozing in the attitude. It's like you took a fun and earthy style and then merged it with grace and strength all tied together with ATTITUDE (with all caps :) ).

Reminiscent of the GROUP? I don't know I don't dance it myself so I can't speak from experience. I do know that I hear from people who love Tribal that it's about confidence and solidarity so maybe it is an attitude that is learned as a part of the group experience that the solo performers then exude when dancing? I definitely notice when it's missing be it Tribal or Tribal Fusion.
 

AyaKara

New member
You know Aziyade, it's funny that you posted this thread because I've been feeling that way over the past few days. I really want to get involved with TF eventually in my dance career, but I have no idea how one becomes a TF dancer. How does one know what to do besides train in Egyptian & ATS/ITS?

I've been feeling really confused about it as of late, & I'm interested in seeing the responses made to this thread. I think of TF as more than just costume; it has its own soul, like Egyptian & ATS/ ITS, I feel :think:
 

kina

New member
I think that the reason it's so difficult to codify what is and isn't Tribal Fusion is that while the original ATS is an amalgam of various dance styles, rigidly structured, TF is pretty much as the performer imagines it to be.

To me, when I think of TF I think of the offshoots of ATS (not necessarily ITS, as they draw from the same rigid structure, just modifying what their actual movement combinations are). I think of Jill Parker, Rachel Brice, etc.

When I first saw RB in performance, she was all ATS with that coiled strength and grace that was mentioned up thread. She combines musicality with her own movement vocabulary that she developed with HER troupe, which was an offshoot of ATS + Suhaila Salimpoor styling and her own unique take on how to structure her performance to the music.

If you've had the opportunity to watch The Indigo (RB's troupe) you'll see that they do more than nod to ATS, it's an integral part of the movement vocabulary. Unmata does this as well, instead of 4 movement combinations, they have 32 (or when I was last looking at their vids they did, it's been awhile so I may not be current) but the feeling of the strong connection is there.

I think that what RB brings to it, and I haven't seen it in other performers, is the ability to bring the audience into her performance, as if we were her troupe. It's a very intimate experience.

IMO, it's not Tribal Fusion if you don't incorporate ATS into it. Odissey dance + salsa isn't Tribal Fusion. It's not a random coupling, it's not the costuming, it's not the attitude. Tribal Fusion incorporates the ATS aesthetic of strong, earthy movements with whatever other styling that the dancer brings to it. BUT it has to be complimentary.
 

Aniseteph

New member
Thanks for posting that AyaKara, that was an interesting read.

I did LOL at this though:
Melodia Pants (named after the dancer who designed and made them...
I love the idea of a dancer being called Melodia Pants. :D
 

LilithNoor

New member
I think Kitty Kohl's description sums it up far more eloquently than I could manage, so I won't try!

I'm very lucky where I live to have some of the best TF dancers in the UK living and teaching within easy reach, and the Tribal Fusion UK group on facebook is a great resource as well.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I found a .PDF that might be able to help in our discussion, written by a dancer that has been doing Egyptian + Tribal for 8 years :)

http://www.kittykohl.com/kathryn/WhatisTribalFusion.pdf
"What really makes Tribal dance (and in particular Tribal Fusion) different is the aesthetic of the dance. All bellydance is highly muscular, and most dancers cross train with other disciplines to increase their strength and flexibility. Tribal dance, and especially Tribal Fusion emphasises the muscularity of the movement to a greater degree than Oriental/Cabaret dance does (this is not to say that it requires a greater degree of muscular control, but that the muscular control required is ‘worn’ by the dancers while performing to a greater degree than in Oriental/Cabaret dance). Many of the movements are deliberately very slow and controlled and often require a great deal of flexibility. The stylised arms have remained which change the way movements look. You can do a hip drop with a cabaret arm style frame, and exactly the same movement using a Tribal arm frame and they will look different because of the arm placement."

This! This is what I was trying to explain. That is a really great article. Thanks AyaKara. :)
 

Aziyade

New member
I just downloaded this, but it won't open on my reader, so I'll have to do it home -- but in the meanwhile, I REALLY appreciate the thoughts on this subject.

And Ariadne -- I completely "get" the Flamenco fusion now -- it IS that ATTITUDE (lol) -- that's a perfect description. I'm starting to see that now.
 
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