Tribal Style is a fantasy style – originated in America and based on the rich movement repertoire of different traditional dances. The proud posture of Flamenco is combined with earthy, spacious hip movements of Berber dances, expressive gestures of Indian temple dances and dynamic turns of Central Asian court dances.
At the end of the 1960’s, Jamila Salimpour (founder of Tribal Belly Dance) presented with her group Bal Anat dances which clearly differed from the Cabaret Style dominating at that time. Cabaret Style owes its name to the fact that dancers of classical Oriental Dance in the US mainly showed up on stages of cabarets. In accordance with this performance venue the appearance of Cabaret dancers was characterized by glamorous, form-fitting dance costumes. Bal Anat, however, performed at Renaissance Faires which are comparable to our medieval festivals and wore wide skirts in earthy colours, Indian cholis and headdresses inspired by Berber cultures.
The choreographies showed a folkloristic touch and created the impression of authenticity although it was no original Folklore.
Dancers who were pausing did not leave the stage but provided background music with zills or darbuka. A tribe seemed to dance not only together but for each other.
Masha Archer, a student of Jamila, further developed this new dance style. She unified the costumes of her San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe towards a recognizable tribe and devised group improvisations. Masha herself was teacher of Carolena Nericcio who founded 1987 FatChanceBellyDance® (FCBD®), one of the most famous American dance groups of American Tribal Style (ATS®).
By now ATS® is a registered trademark. Of course all dance groups are free to develop their own principles for partly improvised dancing. In this case, the dance form is called Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS).
Whereas in ATS® non-verbal communication and cooperation of the dancers within the group play central role, Tribal Fusion focuses on stage presence and dance techniques of each dancer as well as innovative character of choreographies.
Carolena established the concept of leading and following through cues which are not directly noticeable for the audience. During ATS® lessons, only permitted in FCBD® Sister Studios, certain motion sequences are trained which can be retrieved at respective cue. Consequently the dances are partly improvised.
Jill Parker, student of Carolena Nericcio and former member of ATS® influencing group FatChanceBellyDance®, further developed Tribal towards Tribal Fusion by also integrating modern music and motion elements of Ballet, Modern Dance, Yoga and HipHop.
As the name suggests, different dance styles merge in Tribal Fusion. Tradition and modernity, urban and tribal culture are unified to a new whole. As well, the movement repertoire plays with contrasts: Subtle, inner-body dance moves merge into acrobatic figures. Smooth, snakey moves are interrupted by hits (short stops within a move) and locks (abrupt snap of joints during movement). Tempi and dance direction change suddenly.