Tribal Corner

American Tribal Style in WA.
March 2002

Well, the ATS article seemed to have sparked the interest of a number of women who wanted to learn more about this style. The recent workshops provided a dynamic introduction to ATS, and some rather unexpected outcomes.

The first workshop set the scene for the development of a tribal ‘mind’ with background on ATS and a basic vocabulary of movements that were to be common to all tribe members. Participants learnt something of the origins of the movements and how they offered almost unlimited opportunities for exciting combinations performed with varying numbers of dancers. Drills set the ‘muscle memory’ which in turn provided the freedom to reduce concentration on steps , allowing tribe members to connect with each other and to stride confidently into improvised dance. Without exception, each group of dancers, connecting solely with each other in an improvised series of movements successfully managed to mesmerise the ‘chorus’!

The second workshop was to be totally focussed on the costume and make-up specific to ATS. However, participants stated a very clear desire to reconnect with each other as a ‘tribe of strong women’ and to consolidate what they had learnt the previous week. They were determined to dance and dance they did; pushing their boundaries even further, amazing themselves even more! Eventually they stopped to share dip and lime water, talk adornments and make a dowry piece as a memento of their first step on the ‘Gypsy Trail’.

With the same determination to continue to dance, they were strong in their demand to continue to explore ATS. They had formed a tribe and refused to disband! And so we find ourselves offering grateful thanks to Ayesha and Eva for giving studio time for ATS classes on Saturdays. During these classes I have been asking dancers why they wanted to continue with something that demanded so much of them in terms of discipline and support to fellow dancers. I know what I love about ATS, but I wanted to know what they found appealing about it. I think this comment from Wolf pretty well sums it up:

“I have found tribal to be deliciously different to other styles of oriental dance, in the sense that there is no hierarchy amongst the dancers in our class, everyone is considered equally, regardless of skill or age. Our "tribe" are learning and growing together as dancers, we explore the framework of new moves and share them with one another, as each dancer takes her turn to lead.....this is confronting for more inexperienced dancers such as myself, but ultimately confidence boosting in such a nurturing and magikal environment” (Wolf)

And for me – well, as those who know me will attest, ATS is my ‘passion’. I am so privileged to be able to share it and to see it start to take its place amongst the many other forms of Middle Eastern Dance in Perth. Alaine Haddon-Casey