A bit of (con)fusion!


*DEEP BREATH*

Ok… so this post is going to be opinionated and probably offensive to some, so if you’re easily offended – step away from the computer! Also, I am going to continually contradict myself, but I see this post more as a soliloquy or an internal monologue of sorts.

Lately I have been depressed, or rather… unsettled by the direction Tribal Fusion seems to be moving in. To me, TF is a fusion of ATS, and the muscle controlled way of bellydance. You will probably argue with me on the validity of that statement, but it is just how I see it, or as I have come to understand it in my research.  After seeing some performances lately (online and in real life) I just feel that we, in the Tribal community, are getting so desperate for “something new and different” that we might we going too far. I’m sure that this problem is not just restricted to the Tribal community, but I don’t frequent cabaret performances as much as I do TF. I think our “desperation” (for lack of a better word) started out with using different types of props and seeing what we could do with those props that was “wow”. The next route we took was different types of music – I think perhaps first not straying too far with Arabic pop music, to Western pop music, rock music, heavy metal, alternative, the list goes on, really. We added theatrics, making it more of a show and less of a dance. We fused dances… slowly but surely forgetting where we started.

That really makes me sad. It’s a juvenile statement, but I find it expresses exactly what I feel. Just sadness for it. I think Fusion is doing all this in a big way – we’re moving away from the earthy feel of ATS which I love so much and more to the contemporary style of things. (As a side note, I must just add that I quite dislike contemporary dance, I honestly think that I just don’t get it.) The problem you see, comes with asking “When does it stop being belly dance?”. According to some cabaret dancers, Tribal Fusion isn’t belly dancing. This opinion makes me very angry because traditional Egyptian dancers from back in the day would probably say American Cabaret isn’t belly dance either. Ok, I’m going to stop having a little heart attack about that now. You see… this post is contradictory because I don’t like the direction that TF is going in, but in reply to the people who think that TF isn’t belly dance I say that art needs to evolve – it needs to change and suit whatever is going on in the world at that time.

Dancing is an art – and I fully accept that art needs to evolve. I think that my problem or issue comes in with the direction that it’s heading. There are of course some dancers who are still grounded strongly in their ATS roots, but I am seeing a lot of bizarre and “out there” performances. I can only hope it’s some kind of fad that’ll pass with time.

I could give you YouTube links to some examples, but I don’t want to attack individuals, so Facebook or Twitter or E-mail me and I’ll tell you if you’re interested. (Info on my contact page)

But you see, the contradiction in this post comes from my next statement: I want to do a fusion dance. And not just a tribal fusion dance, a fun “Caribbean/reggaeton fusion” dance. Honestly, something more to choreograph for fun, to flex my newly found choreography muscles, to do at a Hafla around people who can appreciate me doing it “just for the hell of it.” I don’t want to take it seriously, I don’t even want to label it belly dance. But I DO want to have fun and do something a little different.

However, therein comes the difference. I’m not pardoning myself from what I frown upon, but I have honestly and openly said “What I want to do is NOT belly dance, although inspired by it. I don’t want anybody to take this as a serious overview for what the art form is. This is NOT an accurate representation of belly dance. I’m doing this for me.

Does that excuse me? Maybe not. But I’m not claiming that what I want to do is belly dance.

I’ve found this post very difficult to put into words, so there are lots of things I haven’t said and lots of things I still want to say. It might come to me one day when I’m washing the dishes or editing some photos… but we’ll see. There might or might not be a “Part 2”. So I end with this question:

Where is the line, for you? There is no right and wrong answer, so please don’t attack other comments, but answer for yourself. (And of course, my own interest.) I can easily be swayed by a good argument or a good point – so please, go ahead and try! 🙂

PS
I’m sorry that there are no pretty pictures in this post, but my next post has about a billion, so I’ll make up for it! 😀

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9 comments

  1. this text (and other similar opinions that I ve come accross) remind me first of cabaret dancers that don t think tribal is bellydance because it took things too far out of their comfort zone (and it isn t “true to its roots or authentic enough”), and then it reminds me of what was going on when modern ballet was forming (the hard core lovers of classical forms were all about, “that s not ballet, taking things too far, what will be left of our world” arguments).
    for me, I have some things I like, some things I don t ( I mostly don t like bad dancing and can watch and enjoy anything if it s well performed). I like what zoe jakes is doing with her performances, or samantha and tjarda on the last tribal fest (that brought tears to my eyes), so I m a big supporter of the tribal-contemporary fusion. but really don t care who does what and how, it s their choice and their business. if you taken tribal classes for 20 years and contemporary for two to make a fusion out of it, you ll most probably keep the bellydance in it in some form or another and you can t say it s not bellydance. the boundary is blurry, but don t get propelled by fear. there will always be people doing things old school, and those doing it in some new creative/experimental ways, and some are gonna do both.

    1. I never wanted this post to be a “I hate the direction of tribal fusion, it’s not PURE anymore.” and I never once said anything like that. For one, I don’t think there is such a thing as “pure” Tribal Fusion. Too many people were doing too many different things when Tribal Fusion came to be, so there is nobody to look to for a reference for what “pure” fusion is. Fusion is a mixture of 2 dances, and Tribal Fusion is a mixture of ATS and Belly dance – that’s how I have understood it. Later, it came to be that Tribal Fusion could mean anything fused with belly dance, regardless of the “Tribal” part. But then you have somebody doing a stunning contemporary piece and they stick a Tribal Fusion label on it – that leaves me confused and a little bit sad. Where is the Tribal Fusion in it? Yes, it was stunning, but I when I saw “Tribal Fusion Belly dance” on the name of the YouTube video, I naturally was expecting a Belly Dance Fusion. As one of the other commenters said: “When the dance starts being more about the other dance forms and not about belly moves, then that’s when it stops being bellydance.” That’s kind of how I feel.

      I’m not attacking Tribal Fusion Belly dance.
      (like I said in the post, I can email you video clips that sparked this debate with myself, if you like.)

  2. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. I have seen many performances lately on YouTube and in haflas where someone calls their piece Tribal Fusion, then doesn’t do one more that relates to ATS or resemlbes Tribal Fesion is any way! They pop or lock, they do Bollywood moves – the audience claps and I am left wondering “Where was the bellydance?!”. I have a post I’ve been thinking about alot and I think you’ve propelled me to write it! I’ll let you know when I do. 🙂

    Shimmies!

    1. This post was meant as a way of putting really badly formed ideas and thoughts out there. I just needed to know if I was going crazy or not. 😉 When people are left wondering “where was the belly dance” then I feel that there is a problem… and it just saddens me more than anything.
      I’m glad I propelled you to write your post – please do let me know when it is up and I will definitely read it! 🙂

  3. From a cabaret dancer – I think that TF is a very valid bellydance variation. But then again, I’m also not a purist.

    I think that the line lies in where bellydance stops being a focus within the dance. TF uses a lot of “traditional” bellydance moves – just strung together differently. Belly-burlesque – same deal. When the dance starts being more about the other dance forms and not about belly moves, then that’s when it stops being bellydance.

  4. Perhaps these people should call their item “a dance inspired by TF’. They than would be in a category of their own and each person who sees it can make up their own mind as to whether they like it or not. I totally agree that things can get out of hand with too many dance genres getting mixed together and that spoils the purer forms of the dance. Don’t stress … just stay true to your own form of dance. maggie gee

  5. Very interesting blog, and I can completely relate with the inner discussion of “is the bellydance?” “is this good?” “should i perform this?” I am all about experimenting, fusion, new ideas and I think it is very important that we as artists and creative individuals get to express that. That being said, our discipline and skill set should match our creative abilities, if you want to fuse underwater basket weaving with bellydance, go for it, but please be a good underwater basket weaver and bellydancer, do your homework, research and practice practice practice. The work you put in it means a lot more than the label you put on it. IMO 🙂

  6. Just wanted to say I completely agree. So much of what is created in the name of tribal bellydance is neither tribal nor bellydance. I don’t think it is judgmental to state a truth, especially in a world of women artists who easily get their feathers ruffled. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. A bit of a really delayed response to this post but I honestly didn’t know about your blog when this was written. Totally agree with this and all of this is still so relevant now, two years later from when you wrote this. I hate it when I see comments on youtube videos where ‘Cabaret’ dancers say tribal isn’t bellydance. Just because they don’t understand the style. And there is such a thing as pushing the ‘fusion’ aspect too far. I am a firm believer in keeping the integrity of a dance form and if a dancer does add in a few other dance styles into a choreography, they should always try to come back to basics so that it stays Tribal Fusion and not some weird mix of everything because ‘I want to be different’. Thanks for telling things like they are 🙂

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