Tribal Belly Dance and Beyond

The art of Tribal Belly Dance is usually shrouded in mystery. Although American Tribal belly dance is modern and imaginative in style, its foundation is based on ancient dance techniques and the communion of tribes. Tribal belly dance is generally characterized by a unique fusion of costumes and folkloric inspired dances from various nomadic tribes across the Middle East and Northern India. Costuming is distinctive and generally composed of tiered gypsy skirts, pantaloons, decorated coin bras, choli tops, belts dripping in long fringe and tassels, and a heavy layering of vintage jewelry. Dancers feel free to explore unique styles that compliment their individual creativity and artistic expression.

Tribal belly dance costumes utilize a diverse range of elements. Multiple layers of fabrics, contrasting patterns, and rich tones and textures are used to create the overall look. Make-up is dark and exotic and hairstyles are enhanced with flowers, braids and hair extensions. Dancers frequently “tattoo” their faces with facial markings and add bindis to bring extra emphasis to the eyes. Costumes and jewelry are sourced from various nomadic tribes, such as Kuchi, Turkoman and the Banjara gypsies of Rajasthan.

Over the years Tribal Belly Dance continues to evolve and now includes an even wider variety of unique styles and interpretations. One of the fastest growing and most popular being Tribal Fusion. Tribal fusion dancers incorporate many of the same elements used in American Tribal Style Belly Dance, with the addition of costumes and music that are influenced by the art of the fusion such as flamenco, burlesque, steampunk and goth. Apparently, not everybody wants to conform to the twelve commandments set forth in the Tribal Bible!

Tribal fusion dancers tend to be a bit more dramatic, with stylized representation of individual movements, pop locking, and a hypnotic flow that draws viewers in. Costuming generally consists of flared leg pants, overskirts, halter tops, shrugs, feathers, colorful cowrie falls, beaded medallions, decorated bras and fringe belts. In contrast to the big tiered skirts worn by ATS (American Tribal Style) dancers, Tribal fusion belly dancers generally prefer to wear pants that are characterized by big bell bottoms or ruffled tiers. Tribal fusion costuming is a combination of such items worn together to transform each dancer into a unique and individual character.

Tribal Belly Dance continues to evolve into a creative kaleidoscope of assorted dance styles and genres. Dancers tend to push past boundaries and experiment with many different looks and styles. Popular styles dominate the scene until a new and exciting trend emerges.