Tribal Style
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to dancers and  dance lovers everywhere!
Wishing you an amazing April, a festive St George's Day and hoping you enjoy this month's Zameena!  

We have great pleasure in welcoming Joanna as our guest writer - yaaay! She will be giving us lots of delicious information on what it means to dance Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS) and identifies some of the reasons why this style is so popular.

Also, there are some additions to our tribal range, which we hope you'll like and news from Zara in Kenya so please, sit back and enjoy!     

What it means to dance ITS 
by Joanna VanderHoeven

Belly dancing is a wonderful way to bring women together. There is just something about women, dancing with and for other women that is so special and empowering. 

Moving with the ebb and flow of our own tides, hips swaying and bodies undulating like the ocean, we feel a deep connection to the world around us, to nature and to our own human nature.
Dancing is a form of expression.  It says something without words, it tells us a story, whether it is a story of our own lives, our bodies, our hopes and dreams or fears.  Dancing is an exploration of the soul, finding and mapping points in our lives where we are able to come to express them in a physical sense. In this way, we move outside of the realm of living within our heads, and come into the present moment of living within our bodies, awake and fully aware.
No other dance form has made me more present and aware of my own body, and of the presence of others, than improvisational belly dance.  American Tribal Style belly dance began this many, many years ago with Caroline Nerricio leading the way.  In this style, cues are given by the lead dancer to the group or partner dancing with them, telling them what combination will be coming next. It is a wonderful way to dance, a way to keep in constant communication with the other dancers while not saying a word. It requires perfect presence, for if we're wondering what to have for dinner, or reliving an argument we had with our spouse, or trying to finish off in our heads that presentation for work next week, we'll miss out on a cue and not be in sync with the rest of the troupe. We have to be on our toes, mentally as well as physically present.

We at Gypsy Dreams Belly Dance do Improvisational Tribal Style (ITS) alongside ATS combinations, as well as our own choreographed routines. I love doing both - the creating of choreographies is a brilliant way to allow the ladies to bring their own creativity to the fore. But in improv dance, when there is just the dancers and the music, and when everyone is fully present and dancing together in perfect harmony, there is a feeling that just cannot be beat.  You have no idea what is coming next, and yet everyone moves together beautifully, like a flock of starlings at sunset. The ego is released, and the self falls away to become the dance.  There is no "I" anymore, only the dance and women together speaking heart to heart, letting the music and the movement allow the barriers to fall away.  What is created is art in a simple, pure form, the flow and force of life moving through the troupe who are utterly grounded in the here and now.
The song begins, and you stand at the front, the other members of your troupe behind you, fanned out in a circle pattern.  You breathe deeply and then begin to move, the vocabulary and repertoire that you have built from years of practice allowing your body to move, almost without thought, remembering and making the connection of what combination will work best with this part of the music. You are aware of the ladies behind you, moving with you, their presence reassuring as you move as one. There is only this moment, this place and this time, these women who are your belly sisters moving with you.
You finish your part in the dance, and move aside to allow another lady to take over.  You know that you are only a part of the troupe, not a soloist but rather a part of an orchestra. Different instruments create different sounds, but play together to create a symphony of joy and harmony. You smile as you see her take your place, and you focus on her: on her body, allowing your heart and soul to open fully to her, to respond to her without thought, fully trusting her.  She leads you through her expression of the music before stepping aside to allow another lady to do the same. 

You all lead. You all follow. You all move together as one, in the present moment. There is only the music; there is only the dance. Who you are, what you have done, where you are going falls away. There is only the music; there is only the dance.
Gypsy Dreams: Intro to Belly Dance Improv
Enjoy the video as Gypsy Dreams Belly Dance perform at Christmas Mind Body Spirit Festival 2015
Through our ITS, we have not only performed wonderful dances, but also come closer together as people, as a tribe.  It's only natural, after dancing together and opening our hearts and souls to each other that we would become so close.  These women that I dance with are not only my students and my belly sisters: they are my best friends.  We have shared a bond unlike any other. We have let go of inhibitions, of those little voices that try to stop us from being our beautiful selves, and we have gotten up and danced together, moving as one, a tribe of women strong and powerful, dancing to the music of our souls, dancing for each other, dancing the songs of our ancestors and bloodlines, dancing together in the present moment. It is the most wonderful experience, a shared experience, opening out in deep soul to soul relationship.
On the left we have one of our new 16 yard Jaipur skirts and a drape sleeved, mirror choli worn with a lapis necklace and lapis/textile belt. We also have a new range of Afghan lapis earrings (not shown in photo above.)

On the right we have one of our new Alibaba sari pants worn with a bra from our new range, a long sleeved shrug and a statement necklace with an Asian veil just behind.

We hope you like our tribal/fusion range! Please take a look at the different colours and styles we have online and if you are tempted to make a purchase don't forget that you can shop in confidence knowing we give a no quibble, money back guarantee. 

Do you enjoy reading Zameena? 
We have put all the past editions together on the new Zameena Website so check it out

We like to think it is a great dance resource as you can easily identify the main feature, you might be interested in, from the cover so please enjoy and share the love! 
Update from Zara in Kenya
Afrobeats Blog
Zara, the co-editor of Zameena, is currently performing in Nairobi. Her newest blog talks about her LOVE for Afrobeats and dancing the night away in the night clubs of Nairobi. Her blog also looks at how dancing to Afrobeats can IMPROVE YOUR BELLYDANCING and how it may even be BETTER THAN BALLET for core technique. 

Have a read and see if you agree.......................
Thank you for taking the time to look at this month's Zameena. 
Also, special thanks to Joanna  for such a treat and tempting us to ITS!

Best wishes and sizzling shimmies
Zara and Sandra (mum) xxx
PS. This old photo shows my first ever effort at making a bindi !?!?!? 
PPS.  If you enjoyed the newsletter, please share the love:

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