Fun, funky, yet flowingly elegant
Tribal Odyssey is versatile enough for any size dance troupe.
See the Streaming Instructional Videos on Youtube that can help your group dance together without choreography: PLAYLISTS
Where two or more dance in synchronicity,
Bellydance ™ is a popular "follow the leader" or
group improvisation style of dancing. This unique group improv format uses natural posture
and both sides of the body in combinations based primarily
on Egyptian beledi-style movement. Compared to other
ITS or *ATS® formats, the arms are less busy and are
held closer to the body.
The leader can change the group formation, lead the group in travel, or give the lead to another dancer. Tribal Odyssey's unique Staggered Line formation allows the group to face any direction - useful when dancing in the middle of an audience or in other unusual performance spaces.
This format, with an extensive repertoire of over thirty dance combinations, includes Veil work, Skirt moves, and Tribal Sword, as well as accompanying Finger Cymbal patterns. This repertoire is unique to TOBD; the combinations are not derived from any other group improv format such as Fat Chance, Black Sheep, Wild Card, etc.
This gives Tribal Odyssey dancing a look all its own.
Other unique attributes set TOBD apart:
|Following the progressive Level program is
recommended for a firm foundation, but some aspects of
TOBD can be used by troupes without completing each level,
for instance the props
combinations using veil, skirt, and
Also, the Level One combinations are very helpful for students who are learning to play finger cymbals while actually dancing!
Level One covers everything a group needs for an authentic tribal improv performance including three stage formations, seven combinations and cues, endings, entrance, and exit.
Level Two includes more combinations for the Staggered Line and Circle formations, finger cymbal patterns, and two additional endings.
Level Three introduces trios and quartets as Center Dancers, more finger cymbal patterns, and more combinations including skirt and veil moves.
Level Four focuses on advanced stage presence, music intepretation, sword dancing; and is still evolving.
|What are the benefits of group
How Our Tribal Odyssey Began...
FatChanceBellyDance* videos and studying their "Improv
& Choreography" video, I attended Kajira
Djoumahna's workshop on American Tribal Style*
bellydance, aka ATS, sponsored by Artemis in Maryland.
I was not immediately in love with the style, it
seemed "Intermediate level" and rather boring. But I
wanted to learn about this new concept.
Kawakib (right), with Student Performing Group PRISM
A Collaboration Between Friends
That was in late 2000. For the next two years the members of my troupe, Pearls of Rhythm, and I refined and developed the combinations, cues, lead-throwing, and group formations as we danced together. It seemed like every time we danced, there were more questions to answer! Without the active participation of my dancers I doubt that I could have developed this group improv format. Miramar also provided feedback and suggestions from working with her students.
After two years of
development, Tribal Odyssey had about twenty
combinations (including five of Miramar's) and my troupe
knew the format well enough to enter the (2002) East
Coast Classic bellydance contest in Virginia Beach and
take home the 2nd
Place trophy, competing against troupes
performing choreographed routines!
Refining and Streamlining the
I also compiled the Tribal Odyssey
Reference Manual so my students could find
answers to any questions they had when dancing outside
of class. I even use it myself to make sure I
teach the material correctly!
Ever since the beginning, Tribal Odyssey has been a part of my weekly classes, a unique addition to the curriculum I've always taught: classic bellydance technique, finger cymbals, props, and various folkloric styles of Mideastern Dance. I feel Tribal Odyssey group improvisation helps my students develop and understand the art of bellydance in a wider and deeper way than either choreography or solo improvisation alone. That's why I've opened the doors to let others experience and even teach this format without restriction; the soft, yet strong and earthy feeling of the movements are unique among standard group improv bellydancing, and Oriental dancers, especially those who love Egyptian style, may find this format quickly feels like second nature to them.
"We dance for ourselves first, each other second and the audience last." - Carolina Nericchio, director of FatChanceBellyDance*
Is group improvisation bellyance a "folkdance"?
La Meri (who coined the term "ethnic dance") writes of folkdance:
"The folk, or communal, dance is a dance to be done; a dance in which the joy lies in the doing; and a part of the joy is in the unified purpose that moves a group of persons intent on the same end....the folk dance you see on the stage has already made the transition into art dance, for it has become dance to be seen."
She further defines applications within
ethnic dance, and ITS seems to fall into the category
of the "creative neoclassic or renaissance"
or even "creative departures". Of the
former she writes, "...the scope is broader and
more difficult to define. The artist may take
liberties with costume, music, and form. Only
techniques remain constant. The creative artist
stays within tradition in style and motivation."
Thank you, La Meri, for having the foresight to envision how future generations might experience and adapt the dance of their ancestors.
|* FatChanceBellyDance®, FCBD®, ATS®
and American Tribal Style®, are federally registered
trademarks of FatChanceBellyDance, Inc. For more
information, please visit