I never lost weight to fit better in the ballet world. Maybe something inside told me that I was really okay the way I was, that it was not important to be a waif in order to dance. Of course, I wouldn't know how true that was until years later. But I kept dancing. It was what I knew and loved. I assisted my teachers in classes for the younger students and kept dancing every day. My mother was continually supportive, driving me to dance school and waiting patiently while I took my classes.
- Paulette Rees-Denis (2008). Tribal Vision: A Celebration of Life Through Tribal Belly Dance
I am a woman in progress and I always will be this side of the grave--even then, my proteins will break down and the organic material will recombine, lending its support to new life--always changing, always evolving. I have been through many passages in my life, but perhaps one of the biggest was my transition. There is a truism that transition is never complete, and I agree with that. My transition from male to female only was the beginning of a lifetime of change. Challenge, and the change that goes with it forces one to push her boundaries, to step out of the comfort zone and redefine who she is as a more open, complete, and round person. Being is a verb. It means about being active about who you are, and interacting and changing with the environment around you. It means finding new elements to express about yourself and finding ways to express them.
Dancing is for me a way to continually plumb to new depths as I link my body to my soul, which in turn links to the music. I become the marionette, but I do it my way. Everything becomes one. And I take classes to expand my dance vocabulary, and to help develop my body so that it can indeed have more expression.
Because of classes shifting, I am, for the time being, having to give up my tribal fusion technique class for troupe practice with Zarandeo Dance Company. Instead of crying in my soup, I thanked the fabulous Michelle Sorenson for having had the advantage of her instruction over the last year, and looked at my options.
I am about to enter my fourth year of belly dance, and most of what I have studied in the past three years has been cabaret style. I had a request to start teaching classes at my church, while at the same time I have been getting more interested in American Tribal Style and Burlesque. I am still in three performing troupes: Azalea, for the third year; Masheed, for the second year; and Zarandeo in its first year.
It turns out that the time that the church wanted me to teach is still in conflict with my current troupe practice, so I turned to the choice I really wanted to try: American Tribal Style. I started reading a book on it as an Amazon recommendation, and then my friend Kathy loaned me a signed copy of Tribal Vision. My tribal fusion dance instructor, the fabulous Amina, told me that she has another book for me to read on ATS. Several of the members of our tribal fusion troupe are also members of the ATS troupe Azar. I have been onstage and in class while I watched them perform ATS with such dignity. The lead/follow dynamic reminds me of Swing dance and the improvisational element reminds me of my own improvisational style. The culture is also attractive in its emphasis on building each other up together instead of competing to get the best audience reaction. I understand ATS has a huge vocabulary to it, so I'll be joining Amina's beginning ATS class on Thursdays after work.
I find it amazing that I actually backed my way into tribal style. Tribal style already has a very rich history over the close to 30 years since it's inception. It has branched out and flowed into so many new forms of belly dance in that time. I began with Cabaret and Egyptian Cabaret, took a gypsy workshop, and then over the last year joined a tribal fusion troupe and started taking tribal fusion technique classes. A few months ago, I was invited to join a troupe that specializes in Ethnic Fusion, and now I am going back to the root of fusion, American Tribal Style. I will actually have a chance to learn which moves are the tribal moves that infused into tribal fusion.
Hugs and Blessings,