Tribe Elation   Dancing & Drumming

 Dancing and Drumming


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Posted by [email protected] on December 12, 2011 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

e·la·tion, noun :  a feeling or state of great joy or pride; exultant gladness; high spirits.  


Tribe Elation gives and receives joy each time we dance.


I have particularly high spirits and great joy right now, the day following the 8th annual Tribal Fusion Faire in San Luis Obispo.  The festival was energetic and fun, and a great place to connect with exquisite dancers, generous vendors, talented photographers, and enthusiastic fans. 


At the top of the list, is the pleasure I get from dancing with women I consider friends and sisters.  I know how lucky we are to have found each other, and our bond gets stronger every time we perform.  There were new sisters in the audience too, and soon they will be ready and confident in joining us under  the bright lights.  Festivals are a time of celebration, and give us an opportunity to showcase whatever special projects each of us has prepared.  We rehearsed long hours, discussed and assembled costume essentials, polished our swords, tightened our zils, made our music selections, polished our entry and exit strategies, and when it came time to step barefoot onto that stage, we were ready.   


I am so happy to have seen so many friends--long time friends who have supported the dance community all these years, whether dancing or not.  This weekend I made new friends who may have been buddies on Facebook, or mentors from a distance, but to finally connect in person was quite meaningful.   TFF allows us each year to reunite and share.  What a great feeling to see fans and friends in the audience smiling back, or watching with fascination, letting us hear their excitement in applause and zaghreets.    It's a feel-good festival!


The comments afterwards let me know, as a director, that I am taking Tribe Elation in a good direction.  I have seen conscious effort and choices among my dancers and I know how hard they are working.  We listen to each other as we build the troupe and share decisions about where we want to take this magic carpet ride next.  Our sword debut was stunning, some said.  We will hone and polish and take it on the road, maybe even teach it at a workshop or two.  Our level two improvisations were carefully executed and controlled.  The costumes were appropriately tribal and colorful, and I am so glad we decided to bare our bellies.  (Love Your Body Day has made an impact on each of us!)  Each of us was able to perservere through a playlist that was out of order (how does this happen?) and adjust to the new dance space like professionals.  Steps and turns may have not been as planned, but we took it all in stride.  That's why we love improvisation, right ladies?


So, I want to finally shout out to my beloved Vince, who is part time chauffeur, paparazzi, costume advisor, personal assistant, body guard, paramedic, counselor, sugar daddy, chef, and all-around-heck-of-a-nice-guy!  I love you, babe.

If Not Now, When?

Posted by [email protected] on September 24, 2011 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

There is often a hesitation before trying something new.  Your mind can be full of doubts and it's hard to clear the noise.  


You want to try a dance class, you call about locations and times.  It seems like it will work out.  You might have made contact with the instructor, seen the facebook photos, read the comments, watched video footage, bought a hip scarf, invited a friend.  You convince yourself to make the effort.  You even plan what you are going to wear.  What happens next?  It reminds me of a poem:



"Last night as I lie sleeping here,

Some WhatIfs crawled inside my ear,

And pranced and partied all night long,

And sang their little WhatIf song." (Shel Silverstein)



Whatif it's too much talent or money?

Whatif I face disapproval from my family or my honey?

Whatif I have to go without Carli, Kay or Teddie?

Whatif I think that my body's not ready?

What if I want to get in shape then try it?

(And I might want to wait until after I diet.)


Some of you will not make it to class this time.  You might be waiting for something.  You might be worried about something.  You might put up a barrier or feel selfish for wanting to use your time and funds this way.  You perhaps wonder what people will think, or find yourself feeling self-conscious or alone.


OR . . . you find out  belly dancing has met your needs in ways you knew it might, but also in ways that you never could have anticipated.  Although you are tired and want to put your feet up, you let your hair down instead and go to dance class.  You look forward to every night you can spend learning more about this art form, and the music and moves that accompany it.  You come to class wearing more bling and less fabric.  You enjoy being part of a new group of women who collaborate and laugh, who trade stories, costume ideas, performance tricks, and who give their friendship to you  freely.  You walk with a confident gait and begin to see yourself in a different way.  You feel a historic connection with dancers before you and after you.  Congratulations--you have become a belly dancer and I welcome you!


Let me share a quote:  "Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one's liberty.”   Henri Frederic Amiel


I like thinking that I possess a "secret joy."  I carry that joy with me; I wear it; I own the fact that I am a dancer.  I love moving to music and making it mine, and doing it with grace and love and with my friends.  My "secret joy" is not that much of a secret!

Do You Speak ATS?

Posted by [email protected] on September 20, 2011 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

When ladies who don't usually dance together try an open jam session of ATS, it is going to become more important than ever to stick to FCBD ATS moves. The idea is to use what we have learned in our various studios, bring those skills to a gathering place, and try to" speak the dance language successfully." This is still really important to Carolena who developed the moves, and her intention with her sister studios is to promote those moves in their purest forms.


No longer wanting to say "no" Carolena has given permission, as I understand it, to modify moves, combine them, get creative with transitions, break some rules with our closest of dancers with whom we play, practice and perform regularly. Many of us are running with it, coming up with lovely combinations, making things turn and move in other directions, fusing two moves together, getting creative. It has been fun to see what dancers are coming up with.


There is still the issue of dancing together as part of the larger collective of global ATS dancers. Once you have experienced getting the flow among strangers, feeling the rush when going into a more complicated move, turning it, and seeing that everyone is still with you, it is truly exhilarating. Ever learned a foreign language, then struggled to make yourself understood? ATS can be just like that when we travel far and wide to dance together. Do you speak FCBD ATS?


So, when you do meet each other on common ground, don't break out the new, tricky, sophisticated variation that your local group has just created. Time to get back to basics, ladies. Go back to the primer that we all used when learning. Your new dance friends will be much more impressed that you took the trouble to keep it real, and keep it pure. Save the frills that separate you from other dancers; save the sheroics for your private gigs, and instead share the love of a common language that we all get to speak when we dance.

Why Do We Dance?

Posted by [email protected] on September 8, 2011 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Week after week in anticipation of class, I end up with numerous skirts, hip scaves, and embellishments stacked up on the bed as the hour approaches. I make my final decisions and move onward. I arrive for class in an excited, colorful rush--every time.


Without a doubt, belly dancing is one of the best hobbies in which I have ever engaged. It's not just about the fabric, or the music, but the whole feeling of moving with others, letting my feet hit the floor in patterns created for one night only, not to be repeated. I leave behind my dancer dust; the shadows flee; the feelings remain.


On the Fat Chance Belly Dance website, the words "elegance, femininity, well-being, cooperation, spirit, communication, joy, compassion, inner intelligence, friendship" are listed.  I feel elegance when we switch arms in a pivot bump and frame our heads artfully in the next turn; femininity when I see all of us in the mirror doing a taqsim in chorusline; well-being when I get home from classes and think about how strong my hip flexers are getting; cooperation when I work with drummers to come up with a strong musical set; spirit when we do a puja and celebrate the beautiful women and studios in which we get to play together; communication with my partners in duets when our turns and shimmies are synchronized; joy when new dancers get that rush of a first performance and it shows on their faces; inner intelligence when I have studied the music, and wait for the perfect moment to punctuate with a new move; friendship when we transition and I look into the smiling eyes of dancers who have become my mentors and my sisters.


The anticipation of a performance can sustain my energy and stimulate a number of fantasies that I can only hope to remember and bring to the crowd. The combining and recombining of turns, gestures, spins, and bumps makes a mathematical matrix of possibilities.

I am a restless soul, now that I have found dance.

One Year Ago Today . . .

Posted by [email protected] on September 8, 2011 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I have a lot to celebrate today.  One year ago I took a risk and started teaching my first belly dance class.  It wasn't a huge risk--I had already been dancing and performing for years; I had already been teaching for decades; and I was freshly Carolena trained and certified.  Now, many classes, students, and performances later, I am getting a new kind of pleasure from this dance thing we do. 


My first teacher saw the early joy on my face, and presented me with a dance name, Ebtasam, meaning "always smiling."  Tribe Elation seemed a likely choice for my hobby, my passion, my troupe.  It's exhilarating, and will continue to sustain me, and feed my hungry, musical, artistic, playful soul.  I continue to learn along the way.  I am not afraid to look back.  I celebrate every present moment, and look forward to change and growth.


Thank you to all of you with whom I have danced and made music, and to all with whom I am going to dance and make music!