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Californian belly dancers bring tribal trend to Moscow

Published time: January 30, 2012 18:47
Edited time: January 30, 2012 22:47

Fat Chance Belly Dance

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With a fusion of music, movement and color, a belly-dancing festival has come to town. And not just any belly dancing, but a very special version of it all the way from California, to spice up Moscow’s winter.

“It is just a very beautiful dance in the way I sort of center myself and connect with who I am,” Kristine Adams, from Fat Chance Belly Dance troupe, told RT. “And it does make me feel powerful in a way I guess. I feel like ‘powerful’ is kind of the wrong word – it’s more ‘confident’.”

Called American Tribal Style Belly Dance, also known as ATS or Tribal, the movement may look old, but it is actually new. The style was developed in the 1980s, with steps based on ancient dance techniques from the Middle East, India, Africa and Spain. It is usually performed in a group, and believe it or not, this perfectly synchronized choreography is in fact an improvisation: knowing all the right moves allows the dancers to communicate without words.

“Our style is like learning a different language,” Kae Montgomery, from Fat Chance Belly Dance, told RT. “First, you learn the vocabulary and the grammar and then you start making short sentences. And when you advance into higher level classes, you use the vocabulary, grammar and sentences to start talking with each other.”

Around the world, Fat Chance Belly Dance are the real Tribal goddesses, because it is the company’s director, Carolena Nericcio, who has developed the style. No wonder their first ever visit to Moscow had ATS fans flocking to pick up a new technique or two and hone their skills.

The troupe’s name may at first appear as exotic as their dancing.

“Mostly, when you tell someone you’re a belly dancer, they’d be like: ‘Oh, do you want to give me a private dance?’ And you know, the response would be ‘fat chance’!” Adams laughs.

The name stuck, however, and since it first appeared, this San Francisco phenomenon has spread all over the US and then around the world. In Russia, a mere five years ago ATS was something unheard of. Now, more and more women from across the country are falling in love with it.

“We first saw the ATS videos on the Internet and dreamed about being able to dance like this,” Ekaterina Dyomina, from the Russian Tribal Mafia Project, told RT. “So we watched videos online, brought DVDs from abroad, and went to Europe and the US to learn. Getting started was hard, because it was something totally new to Russia, but we were very keen.”

Bright costumes and finger cymbals called zills also work their magic. Anyone can learn, no matter what their age or fitness level and Tribal is not just for the girls.

Together with the Fat Chance Belly Dance stars, a lot of Russian ATS performers showed off their talent in the biggest Tribal festival the country’s seen so far. Tribal is extremely versatile as it allows for solo performances and can be mixed with other styles, from jazz to hip hop.

The movement’s leaders hope that after such a belly dancing extravaganza, more Russians will be eager to give this fantasy dance a chance.