Tribal Style Bellydance

Women, it is from ancient times that we have gathered in our tribes, with each other, alongside our families

and those of which we share common cultures, religions, dialects, bloodlines and interests.

It is in these communities, linked by sometimes invisible threads,

that we have found comfort, support and shared our most intimate moments.

We have danced and we have laughed. We have cried and we have mourned.

Indigenous tribes continue to live on and off of their lands and practice their traditions all over the world.

New tribes continue to form as people respond to their human need of kinship and belonging.

In our most honest expression of human experience, we just all want to be loved.

We want to be with others who we can feel natural with.
May all ‘Tribes’ carry forward side by side with respect for one another, reverence for each other’s talents

and a genuine love that transcends all difference. 

Women may we always remember to take each other's hand... and Dance!

Women, I invite you to gather together, in circles of dance, in communities of sharing and support, 
to learn a language of communication that our bodies can so naturally express.
In so doing, we learn new ways along this dance of life, to stand with and for each other.  

Tribal Style Bellydance

Over the last few years I have been enjoying learning the beautiful fluid flow of Tribal Style Dance. This lead and follow dance form with many variations has roots in traditional Danse Orientale but also has been influenced by Flamenco, Classical Indian, North African and other ethnic and western dance forms. Having developed over the last forty years and still evolving, it is a Western phenomenon having its origin on the West Coast of California, USA. 

For those of you who might be new to this danceform, I have written a brief history, overview and some links for you to read and explore below. You will also find a description of the session I teach which can be adapted for different levels of dancers. I am always looking to expand my dance community!

Six to Eight Week Group Sessions, Playshops and Private Sessions Available

Check Calendar for current scheduling.  Contact Me if you would like to start dancing!

Tribal Style Bellydance - Can be adapted to all levels 

Tribal Style Bellydance is elegant and graceful, celebrating the strength and beauty of women from all stages of life. This session will focus on learning core dance vocabulary of both slow and fast movements that can be used alone or in combination with each other in this dynamic lead and follow dance style. As movements are learned, cueing techniques will also be introduced to create a seamless flow of communication between the dancers. Zills or finger cymbals, the dancer's instrument, will be incorporated throughout the session.

Come, let's get together and dance. Let's continue to build a community of dancers devoted to sharing this powerful form of feminine expression together. Various levels of technique from beginners to more advanced levels can be incorporated and varied as per experience of dancers.  

A Brief History & Evolution of Tribal Style Dance


The Tribal Style Bellydance foundation format of both slow and fast movement vocabulary danced today has developed over time from the influence and artistic vision of three main dancers:

  • Jamila Salimpour, born in 1926 in the United States, is known for having created an instructional format that notates the language for both Middle Eastern dance movements and zill patterns. Her daughter, Suhaila Salimpour, well known for further developing her mother’s format, is the creator of the Salimpour School. In the 60’s Jamila was inspired to create a "tribal", "ethnic" dance troupe, entitled, Bal Anat, its name meaning "Dance of the Mother Goddess." 

This theatrical style show, performed at the local Renaissance Pleasure Faire in California, featured tribal dances from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean and was accompanied by live musicians. Costuming, more ethnically created, featured dark colored and layered garments accessorized with dramatic makeup, head coverings and antique silver jewelry - a stark difference from the more common colorful cabaret style dress that audiences were accustomed to. For the dancers desiring to share their dance with an audience, this ‘Tribal Style’ presentation of belly dance and its alternative costuming, opened the doors to many more family friendly performances venues than what had been possible before as cabaret dancers whose primary venues were restaurants. (References: see links provided throughout article)

  • Masha Archer, now of Masha Archer Design Studio, was a former student of Jamila’s. Of Ukrainian origin herself, she began teaching and directing her own troupe, the ‘San Francisco Classic Dance Company,’ in the 1970’s, blending together the diverse elements of folkloric dance from the Near, Middle and Far East as well as parts of Europe into a single cohesive dance style. Her interpretations of music, movements, costuming and choreography were some of the earliest and most notable bellydance world fusion work in America.

References: History and Evolution
San Franciso Classic Dance Troupe Youtube video

     ATS®, with it's movements inspired by

     folkloric dances of the Middle East

     and India. Aesthetically ATS® is based
     on the richness of textiles and jewelry
     from North Africa and India.   

She is the founder and creator of FatChanceBellyDance, FCBD®. Carolina and her certified teachers teach her format around the world. (References: see links provided)

Speaking from my own life experience, there are also two other women I would like to mention who have had a significant influence worldwide on the Tribal Dance evolution. There are of course more than I have room to mention here and I encourage you to do your own study as it is very interesting and inspiring to acknowledge other women continuing to evolve this art form from their own connection to self expression, passion and purpose in their lives to teach others this powerful non-verbal communication.

  • Paulette Rees-Denis, one of Carolena Nerricio’s original students and troupe members, also went on to create Gypsy Caravan and created her own variation of the theme she had learned. The dance having become known as Tribal Style Bellydance, has evolved with the use of Indian Mudras, variants in costuming as well as one other primary difference from other tribal styles, the use of both left and right lead changes in variation to for, 

example,  the ATS® style format which is primarily based on a right side lead.

Here is a quote from Paulette's book, Tribal Vision, A celebration of life through tribal belly dance, of which I enthusiatically recommend its reading,

"Let's imagine dancing around a fire pit with our tribe, under the stars, because it is what we do at night, beating on a drum, creating rhythms, and moving together in a circle. This is my idea of the primal foundation of tribal belly dance. Basic. Communal. We have given it the structure of a necessary nonverbal language, full of some simple and some complex moves so that we can come together from different areas of the world and dance as one large peaceful community." (pg. 10) (reference: Tribal Vision)

  • Kajira Djoumahna, the first person in the 1990's, to represent Carolina Nericcio and her American Tribal Style® Belly Dance ATS® format, as an official instructor. Since that time Kajira and company has gone on to teach all over the world. She is the creator of the award winning BlackSheep Bellydance (BSBD) Format for tribal style, utilizing the basis of FCBD ATS® but including both sides of the body and stage for asymmetrical steps, prompting the

birth of her chorus innovations. She presently makes Sebastopol, California her home where she teaches her own format as well as is a FatChanceBellyDance ATS® Sister Studio of which she instructs general skills in both the Classic and Modern ATS® Formats. 

Her book, "The Tribal Bible, Exploring the Phenomenon That is American Tribal Style Bellydance" second edition is currently being rewritten to document everything new in the Tribal dance world since 2003 when her first book was released for sale.  

(Reference and to read in more in depth go to: )

Tribal Fusion Dance


To end this discourse on the history and evolution of Tribal Style Dance, I feel it is very important to include the dynamic genre of Tribal Fusion dance. As per the Wikipedia definition, Tribal Fusion Bellydance is a modern Western form of belly dance which was created by fusing American Tribal Style belly dance and American Cabaret belly dance. Artists frequently incorporate elements from Popping, Hip Hop, 'Egyptian' or 'Cabaret' belly dance, as well as movement principles from traditional forms such as Spanish Flamenco and East Indian Kathak and Odissi as well as other folkloric and classical dance styles.


Understood as a branch with its roots in American Tribal Style Bellydance, ATS® created by Carolena Nericcio, the director of FatChanceBellyDance, FCBD®, Tribal Fusion began with its first name being Belly Dance Theatre. Jill Parker's,  Ultra Gypsy performances caused her to become named, "the mama of Tribal Fusion". Stephanie Barto, Heather Stants, Rachel Brice, Suhaila Salimpour, Mardi Love, Zoe Jakes and several others have also been credited with the evolution of Tribal Fusion Dance to its present day expression. 

There are many great websites and youtube videos to explore this dramatic and dynamic dance form of creative expression. I have listed some links and videos to get you started. Have fun!  

Links For Reading:

Videos To View:

Jill Parker

Indigo - Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, Zoe Jakes

Live Music With Beats Antique - Zoe Jakes

Live Music With Stellamara  - Rachel Brice

As We Allow Ourselves To Explore Our Creative Expression It Takes On Its Own Form 

More........ It's Endless Really:

... and lastly I would like to share these videos and links because I know this beautiful woman. I have watched her follow her inspirations of creative expression ever since I met her and had the privilege to dance with her.

She has gone on to create her own unique style - Fusing Bellydance, Poi and So Very Much More!  

Through the years of living in Brandon, MB, Canada where I first begin to engage with Tribal Style Bellydance, there has been many places in and out of the dance studio where we as women have communed with each other

in learning, laughing and sharing. We have danced together in formations of circles moving around a stage and lines parading down streets with our finger cymbols as our instruments. Their has been music festivals, pool side parties, food markets and stage productions. I celebrate within the memories of all the time spent together, not only just performing at these venues, but also the sewing of coins on our costumes and sitting together sipping pots of tea while  creating exquisite flowers for our hair from vivid colors of raw silk.  

It has all been just as important.      

 "The Northern Lights Dance Troupe" 

Aren't I lucky? Through the last few years I have got to spend time dancing in Mexico with my Manitoba friends and dance partners, Bridget Shaw and Vickie Hanwell-McLean Bridget Shaw. Bridget is a certified ATS® instructor & when she is not living and dancing in Manitoba during the fair summer months, she is dancing and playing lots of music at her second home in Sayulita, Mexico. 

Vickie makes her permanent home in Manitoba as well but loves to spend part of her winter where she dance in the shade of the warm sun!  


Located just north of Puerta Vallarta, Sayulita's beaches are beautiful and the town is full of character, varied cuisine and a joyful spirit! Here are a few photos of special Mexican days spent dancing at some of its markets and restaurants!

Myself, My Friends And  The Places We Have Danced Together


It is in friendship with ourselves and others - that we share the dance .

It is in caring - that we listen to the voices of our minds, bodies and spirits

so that we might observe our limitions but also rise to our full potential.  Wendy Schabrel