Monday, March 3, 2014

Tribal Musings........

Over the past decade or so, I've had a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Tribal dance. Part of this comes from my first teacher who's style was much more traditional Egyptian and she didn't particular like tribal. Some of that rubbed off on me - and the fact that while I studied with her I may have seen all of 2 tribal performances. During a teacher-less time after she moved out of town, I took a Tribal basics class with Ziah of Awalim. I'll admit, I wasn't crazy about it; the idea of trusting a performance to following a leader was quite terrifying. As a western choreography based dancer, the idea of performing without know exactly what you were going to do every moment was overwhelming. But I loved Ziah's energy (who doesn't??) and the combos we learned.

My second teacher was the exact opposite, she was most at home in the fusion and improv worlds. She decided we were going to learn a variation of Gypsy Caravan style and perform it. I wasn't thrilled, but went along with it and realized that it wasn't quite as painful as I imagined. In fact, in a later troupe performance under her direction I had a major a-ha moment. We were performing a very long, slow improv to "Whisper Hungarian in my Ear" by the Toids at Nicola's in Atlanta. As it ended, arms stretching out slowly to meet each other, the energy in that chorus was sizzling between us and it became a moment of pure magic. That proved to me how different improv feels when compared to choreographed pieces.

As I mentioned earlier, the base of my tribal style improv is Gypsy Caravan and I still look to Paulette as one of my inspirations. I love her passion, energy, and why she dances - so others can join this community. I also love that Paulette encourages you to tweak combos so that they work for you and your tribe of dancers. Unmata is another inspiration, kick butt combos with tons of attitude.

Some lessons I have learned from improv - you do all the hard work on the front end learning the combos and formations. This makes performing much easier. Second, the performance more easily adapts as the number of people in the group changes or if you need to add an additional piece of music in a short amount of time. Third, you pay better attention to your fellow dancers when doing improv since it is clearly a group of dancers working together instead of individuals dancing at the same time. Forth, it is just fun, I laugh, smile and enjoy myself on stage more when doing tribal. Finally, group improv prepares you for solo improv - we've become so choreo-heavy as dancers that relaxing and just dancing is difficult.

More that with other dance, with improv you are not just learning moves and combos, you are learning a language the same way we all learned verbal language. In a blog post earlier this year and in a conversation at Tribalcon, Ziah pointed out that as you dance more exclusively with your group, you develop your own dialect of improv, complete with variations that are uniquely yours.

I love the camaraderie in a group that know how to improv. You share the same history, the same challenges and the same victories. All of this leads to a common trust - like some of you have heard me say - Improv means never having to say you are sorry. No apologies, No Takesies Backsies!

This sums up how this dance bring us together, even though outside of the dance we have very different lives

No comments:

Post a Comment