Why ATS Belly Dance? What's the Big Deal?
Why American Tribal Style® belly dance? Throughout my life nothing has given me the special feeling I have when I’m dancing. No person, thing, reward, award, food or experience. Well…maybe a fine homemade caramel comes close…but I digress…haha! It has given me confidence in myself, space to live my life as I choose and simply a feeling of belonging to an amazing community of dancers. It has also provided opportunities to meet friends I would have never met had it not been for the connection through this dance form.
Why specifically American Tribal Style® (aka ATS®) belly dance?
Why ATS®? What’s so special about *this* particular style?
Well, for me, it has been about developing and building that space within myself to know that “hey, I can do this, and it’s pretty fucking fantastic!!” It is about building community and connection with other human beings in a world that largely depends on technology for interaction with one another. It’s about learning and studying other cultures that make up a beautiful tapestry in this format, not only in steps, but in costuming and adornment. Every time I see or acquire a vintage piece, I wonder who owned it before me, and what kind of life was lived wearing a piece that made its way across the world to me. If only there was a way to know or download the information!!
It has opened a world of art and beauty both in myself and others with whom I share this artistic dance form. As a FCBD® Certified Sister Studio, I follow and teach the FCBD® format, which means you can travel throughout the U.S. and the world and find other ATS® dancers who know the same dance language! How cool is that? It has connected me not only with dancers across the world, but also students who join me every week in class.
While my time with dancers throughout the world was amazing, I get the greatest joy in seeing students grasping concepts, growing and feeling empowered to live their truth without shame or apology and owning their beauty and strength – celebrating it, even! All through the process of learning, studying and practicing ATS®! Through consistent study, I’m able to teach and help others find THEIR bliss and power through dance. Since it's all improvisational, beginners rely on advanced dancers and we all depend on one another for support while creating art in the moment!
American Tribal Style® is a style of Belly Dance that is both elegant and earthy. It is a system of steps and formations that you can learn and use improvisationally with a group of dancers. I like to imagine ATS® as a pyramid shape, like an A-frame house, with the music as a bridge that leads to the garden where the audience is sitting.
At the very top of the house is gratitude; we are thankful for the time to dance and acknowledge all of the elements that make our dance possible. Next level is the structure; your personal posture and the group formations of duet, trio and quartet. The biggest level of the house is where all the steps live; it’s a big family! Finally, in front of the house are the fantastic costumes and lots of jewelry. The music is the bridge that connects the dancer to the audience.
The audience sees the house in reverse. Through the bridge of the music they first see the costume and jewelry, then the steps and formations. They probably don’t see the posture and gratitude but they infer it via the attitude of the dancer’s body. As a dancer, be sure to look down to the garden: gratitude, posture, formations, steps and music, costume and jewelry.
If you’re interested in starting this journey, I invite you to come join us for class! It’s super welcoming, we thoroughly cover and drill the basics, with gentle, individual feedback and support every week! The steps you learn in Level 1 are built upon to enable you to progressively dance more complex steps in Levels 2 and 3. You advance to the next level once you are proficient in the basic steps.
While there are performance opportunities, it isn't mandatory and there's no pressure to take to the stage!