18 September 2010

ATS Old School, ATS New Style

This is new home for the infamous fireside chat discussing ATS Old School, ATS New Style.
Please re-post all the great comments from FaceBook, Tribe.net and any personal emails you send to me that you would like to share. Let's keep the conversation going!

{fireside chat} Greetings,
Thanks for joining me, there's something that I want to share with you.
When I first released Tribal Basics Vol. 1 Dance Fundamentals, I encouraged the viewer to "use these ideas in your version of American Tribal Style Belly Dance." At that moment, I had no idea that ATS would become a worldwide phenomenon. I had no thought to control it, I just wanted to get it out there for people to enjoy. I assumed that you would see it, be inspired, and go on to create a dance that followed, what was to me, the obvious aesthetic and lines of classic female beauty.
Imagine my surprise when my little ATS morphed into so many interpretations of "Tribal."
At first I was delighted, so many people were coming on board. I faced a lot of criticism from the traditionalists who feared that the public would regard Tribal as more authentic than Oriental Style. I stood my ground in that I wasn't trying to steal anyone's market share, I just had a new idea that knew would add to the growing population of students interested in belly dance. People like me, that loved the music and culture, but felt a resonance to the romantic idea of a more folkloric looking dance. The music we chose was more from the countryside than the city and we also experimented with sounds from other cultures, as well as modern fusions that were emerging in San Francisco and other progressive cities. The costume was rich and heavy; full skirts, pantaloons, a version of the Indian choli top, mythical coin bras and tassel belts, and of course a full cloth headdress and lots of jewelry.
As things evolved in our San Francisco classes, I came up with the signature concept of ATS-group improvisation. We used standard belly dance steps, and made up some of our own based on those steps, but what was new was the way that we used them in set formations. We decided on duets, trios and quartets, with the occasional solo, to be performed within the context of a chorus line of troupe dancers. The posture and steps would remain a solid, unchanging core but the way the dancers used them was the improv part-the leader would cue the followers as to her next step and the whole formation could change in unison.
This is still a mystery to audiences, the whole group flows so seamlessly that it is often impossible to tell that it's improv. Perhaps that's the one hitch in ATS, the most amazing part is hidden from the onlookers.

Onward to the reason for tonight's talk.
I never intended to have to police the dance. I expected that everyone would play nice and respect each other, and me. But something happened in the mid-nineties. The desire for the dance had begun to spread and more and more people wanted to learn. I was invited to travel, but had no interest in it at the time. If I left San Francisco, the business would fall behind. Plus, I didn't consciously know it at the time but I wasn't done creating the dance. Truthfully it felt, and it still does, like I was just a tool of the dance goddess. Not to sound cliche`, it was just that I had no personal plan other than to dance for a few years. It feels like something bigger than me just plucked me out of the masses and said, "Go do this."
And, I did.
But the bubble burst when students started splintering off and teaching right around the corner from me. That felt wrong. I would never have opened up shop if my teacher was still on the scene. I decided not to take a stance, not wanting to appear petty and more importantly, not wanting to put a damper on the progress of the dance.
But here's the deal-it felt as if just when I was preparing to give a gift...it was snatched out of my hands. I was attempting to be humble in giving the dance away, not feeling the need for ownership, as I assumed that would naturally be attributed to me out of courtesy. But it was not to be. I was stunned, hurt, angry and too proud to say so. I retreated.
I waited and watched to see what would happen. It was pretty rough for a while. All sorts of dances were being created and called "Tribal", some even "ATS", which made no sense to me as there was nothing ATS about them at all.
I realized that people who had no experience with ATS were jumping on the bandwagon. It made sense to remain in the game and encourage people to call these new styles simply Tribal. Most people added a prefix or suffix, like Fusion, Gothic, East Coast, etc. Attempting I believe to stay under the umbrella of the popularity of Tribal while distinguishing themselves as original at the same time. Makes no sense to me, but OK.
Eventually, the very people that turned away from me, or perhaps I should say the next generation of students of the original diaspora, started to recognize the true ATS, and me. I felt like it was worth the wait. I'm glad I didn't speak out against those that had broken away. And I'm glad that we are on track again.

A digression for a history lesson of the ATS underground, finally here is the reason for tonight's talk.
Things are good right now. There is still some confusion about what is ATS and what is any variety of Tribal, but that's OK. We have Sister Studios, teachers that adhere to the philosophy of FatChanceBellyDance in their ATS classes, 98 at the time of this writing. We have TribalStar Galactica, my attempt in getting all the "tribes" together in one place, no matter of the genre, 247 at the time of this letter.
It's finally time for me to give the gift that I had intended at the filming of Dance Fundamentals-be creative and have fun.
There are so many new steps and concepts being presented to me that I feel the need to broaden our definition of ATS. I propose that the steps from Tribal Basics Vol. 1 Dance Fundamentals and Tribal Basics Vol. 4 Embellishments and Variations be considered ATS Old School, as they are the foundation of what we do. Everything else, including our Tribal Basics Vol. 7 Creative Steps and Combinations, are to be considered ATS New Style.
There will be new steps added to the ATS vocabulary, but they will not be mandatory. As well, you are free to create new steps and variations of your own. You can show them to me, or not. I am always happy to give a common sense creative critique on what makes a good ATS step, but you will not get in trouble if you are moved to create something on your own.
As one dancer recently brought to my attention, we all have our own dialectics. By the nature of either distance, ala FatChance and Devyani, or simply a student group that dances together on a regular basis, we develop our own creative steps and variations (more on how to do that at the end of this letter.) The dance is the same but experimenting and mistakes lead us to create, and that's a good thing.
But here's the deal; if you choose to create your own thing you will not be able to flow with another ATS dancer that you have never danced with before. What do I mean by flow? Flow is when both dancers have the same muscle memory for steps, interpret the music in the same way, have a similar skill level and use the ATS formations of duet, trio and quartet. Flow is dancing in the divine subconscious. But if you have one version of a step and another dancer has a different version, you will have to discuss it ahead of time and you will have to think, or stay in the conscious while you dance. This is not a bad thing, but just be aware of it.
So that's it.
I'm still on the scene. I will still be teaching ATS all over the world. We will continue to produce instructional DVDs. I'm not going anywhere. In fact I'm just sitting here on the porch and I invite my dance family to come and play in the front yard. Show me what you are doing, tell me how it has changed your life, share a new piece of music with me. Just come home for a spell and let me enjoy your happiness. Then you can run off to the next house and create yet again.

Anatomy of a Step.
In June of 2011 we will shoot the next instructional DVD, to be released in the Fall. It will be titled Anatomy of a Step. We'll introduce you to the new work that we are doing as well as that of guest artists. The theme of this DVD will be to introduce you to the process of creating steps and variations. But for now, use this formula: the posture does not change. The ATS Old School steps remain the core. The result of a new step reinforces the aesthetic of uplifted arms and joyful display of the body. The step conveys happiness. Any cues should be brief and logical, the more "rules" you have to add, the less successful the step will be. The principals of non-verbal communication govern all cues and formations.
I think that if you follow these suggestions you will have success, and I hope find more depth in the dance.

My friends, enjoy the dance. And phone home every now and then.
Best wishes,
Carolena

51 comments:

mrstrishch said...

All I can say is thank you, Carolena, for this beautiful dance form that continues to resonate and inspire! ...and thank you for sharing your experience and your heart.

I find myself inspired to re-watch Vol's 1 & 4 with a new perspective. I don't want to read into your words, or interpret something that isn't there, so will quietly wait to see how things unfold in the days and weeks to come. I do however want to truly understand the new terms and how they might apply to what our troupe is doing - so am enjoying the videos again in this new light.

A nice way to spend the weekend!! :D

Carrie said...

This is a copy/paste from a FB discussion...
"There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said. I think Shay mentioned something about a little voice in her that says, "yo bitch, go create". winks to Shay. I don't have that voice which is why I am so comfortable keeping things the way they are.
I suppose I relate this change to the music theory behind ATS. There's nothing wrong with using a modern or funky song now and again. Use it have fun with it, but don't let it take over your whole set.
I equate that to 'get creative only if you want or feel the need, but don't let the vocab get so out of control that it's replacing other original ATS moves'.
Does that make sense?
As most of you know, I am not a fan of SS's getting inovative. Because originally, that's not what we signed up for. But then again, originally, we weren't even suppose to perform other stuff either, even if it wasn't mixed with ATS. That was also a hard pill for me to swallow, but then I realized that I could dabble in other forms now and again which is refreshing sometimes.
I'm generally opposed to change as a life rule. I fully accept that it's not a healthy way to live. ;-) So, again change is hard for me to swallow.
I would consider myself old school, but our troupe does have three things we do that FC doesn't. Does that mean I'm new school? We a)travel double bump in a circle b) turn wet dog c) turn ribcage rotation

Lots of love to you all!
Carrie"

You said to re-post all great comments, I don't consider my comments particularly great... but I feel like I can be honest and share.

Lisa said...

Carolena

Firstly thank you. Thank you for giving me something to focus on. Thank you for giving me something truly wonderful to share. Thank you for being who you are.

I dont feel that, even as a SS, I would beging to contemplate evolving a new step as I feel I am still constantly growing and learning.

I have used the term "old school" for a long time during my classes and its nice that I can now call myself old school.

I am so appreciative that you stayed with it, through thick and thin and through people learning, leaving and setting up shop around the corner.

I am proud to be able to carry on with the precedent you set me as a SS and I will continue to be that old school gal.

I want flow with whoever I dance with and wherever I may dance.

Most of all I want you to know that you will always have my continued support from over the pond in the UK, and that I love and respect you for who you are and what you have given me.

Im looking forward to seeing you in the UK in 2011 so I can tell you these words face to face and top them off with a huge hug.

Lisa x

holliemschmidt said...

I think we all need to take a walk in your shoes Mama C. I could not imagine the amount of emails, phone calls and questions you receive on a daily basis. Another thing is the amount of people that want you to look at there new moves to add it to the ATS official vocabulary...I bet if you took two years just dedicated to new move request you still would be behind. Plus all the traveling has got to be exhasting. I truthfully think that people need to realize you are human Mama C! Plus I get tired at 36 from what I balance and maybe some people need to think you are getting us ready for your semi-retirement or full retirement. We have been trained from the best and it sounds like to me you are pushing us out of the nest and saying fly and I trust you and come back and see me once in awhile. Thank you and I dont know how you do what you do Mama C...lots of love and support from me =)

Leslie said...

Hello Miss C...

I hold ATS very near and dear to my heart, as I do the woman who created it and allowed for me to bring it into my life. I'm a Sister Studio, and am one very proudly. You... are not only my mentor, but someone whom I respect greatly and consider a friend, one who I will never turn my back on. I quite literally bow in gratitude to you, for all you have done, for all the hills and valleys you have experienced on your journey, and for allowing us all to walk with you as you continue your journey.

Namaste.

With that being said, I won't lie. I have struggled with this all. But I am realizing now that I am struggling more with the "volume" of it -- the news though, is really not so voluminous. I hear what you are saying. And I appreciate what you are trying to do... the message you are trying to give us all -- I got all I needed from this:

"But you all are the standard bearers, and know that I'm not saying "do whatever you want and call it ATS." What I'm saying is don't be afraid to be creative and have fun, but understand the foundation of ATS when you do."

So please know... I hear you. I am still processing, but I get it. And, thank you. I am, in all reality, an "old school chick", and so that is where I will be, and be happily.

On that note, I will leave you to do what you do best, and that is: just be your awesome self -- 100% yourself. And, I am going to go to do what I do best, which can best be described by this quote:

"Do not dwell in the past,
do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

~ Buddha

I love you.

Looking forward to seeing you next month.



"Old School ATS Chick 4Life"
Leslie
oxox

sharoncita2000 said...

Para l@s hispano parlantes, he aquí una traducción del texto al español: http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=604833920&notes_tab=app_2347471856#!/note.php?note_id=434179667419

For Spanish speakers, here's a translation of Carolena's text in Spanish.

Valizan said...

Howdy ma'am!

Thank you for taking the time to post this grand clarification. I've been reading/commenting on a variety of posts on Facebook about this change. I didn't find your original post confusing.

I AM however, finding some of people's comments confusing. I read your post and you said 1&4 were the old school and everything else that exists is new school. And on various posts I see people saying THEY are old school. If I read your post correctly, it was about the vocabulary, not people choosing labels for themselves.

If we are to be well-rounded ATS dancers, should we not be dancing all of the existing vocabulary that we can manage and master? (I admit it, I am still struggling with the floorwork... I'll get there eventually. :)))

Are people who say they are old school saying they are eschewing the scrumptious moves on volume 7? Should they? Because this part is what I am finding confusing. I'd love for anyone to clarify. I myself will not be engaging in the labelling game, other than to say I am an ATS dancer and Brother Studio who dances in YOUR name. And with pride.

with much love to all,
Valizan
I totally agree that the ATS vocab should stay dominant, even amongst those who care to create new steps. If one is going to stray THAT far away from the Core ATS (I really Barbara Nies term "Core" for the Volume 1 & 4 stuff. It describes exactly what it is and what it should be) perhaps they should start calling themselves ITS.

I will be interested to see how BSBD and Gypsy Caravan react to this. I will be sticking with ATS myself, but I'm glad I can create variations to share like the people I admire within the ATS community. And I think I still would like to submit them to you for approval.

When you admitted me as a Sister (Brother) Studio, you proffered to mentor me. As my mentor, I would like to be able to have dialogue with you on what I am working on.

Carrie... :) You may not be a fan of SS's getting innovative, but you admit that you too have been innovative with your listed variations. I salute your creativity and hope that the opening of the door fires your creativity even more.

But I really don't think you need to worry about straying from the ATS path. You care a lot about the original form. A guardian of the Core jewel, as it were. :) Remember the ATS box? Not only has Carolena punched a few air holes in the top, she's taken the lid off. But... there are still a floor and sides to the box. Breathe deep, create, enjoy, share.

And like anything else, change is good... in moderation. :)

Many Hands House said...

Dear Carolena,

You are my mentor, my muse. I have been in love with you for over a decade. I have an altar to you in my studio.
I am a nobody. I don't deserve answers. You are surely being bombarded with emails and phone calls. I apologize if I add to your work load.
I was SO excited for your announcement. It was billed as something fantastic. I waited and waited for the big moment. That evening I put my many babies to sleep, warmed up some rum, and opened my laptop.
And as I read, my heart sank. I can't explain why. It just did! I felt hurt.
Is it because I have my personal identity wrapped up in being a Sister Studio? Am I ATS police? My ego likes to pretend I am in a special, select club. I expected (but certainly didn't deserve) a heads up.
The question that I wonder most: What does it mean to be a Sister Studio?
And I am worried about the dilution of the ATS art form.

BUT I have hope. Many women I respect are looking forward to the creative aspects of this. One of my teachers, also a FCBD Sister Studio, is delighted.
And I know for a fact that you, Carolena, knows what if best for FCBD and ATS. You are wise. And I will trust you now as I have always trusted you.

I wonder, if after a few weeks of processing this, will I feel differently?

Thank you for making me one of your Sister Studios.
Thank you for letting me call you teacher.

You are a Goddess. I lay this at your beautiful feet.

Humble intense love,

Melanie Moore
Thank you for inventing a dance form I can dedicate my life to.

rhiannyn said...

Dear Carolena,

ATS saved my belly dance life. I was on the verge of quitting my tribal fusion classes, for internal reasons.
ATS has captured my heart and emotional soul. For that, I first and foremost thank you, your troupe mates, Megha and Devyani's dancers, and my current ATS teachers. Also included in the thanks are the many, many ATS dancers I have *met* through the ATS network. I love you all a whole bunch of a lot. You all continue to inspire me daily, for which I am eternally grateful.

I know there are concerns and questions surrounding the new Manifesto, but rather than its effect being to blur ATS-FCBD format into oblivion, I honestly believe it will strength the core ATS format, and its dancers. I feel this way because I am seeing the majority of us, especially the SS affiliates, dig in and declare their commitment to "Old School/Classic/Core" ATS format. For me that means everything covered from Volumes 1 through 8, and anything new that Carolena chooses to include in the FCBD vocabulary of moves.

I don't see this as a monumental change... it is still about making a choice between ATS-FCBD format and being able to "FLOW" with like minded ATS dancers all over the world, or choosing to do an ATS-ish based dance incorporating your own variations, moves, combos.. which really boils down to the fact that one is then choosing to do TGI/ITS, which is an off-shoot of the Original. Because...
There can be only One.
ok, I ripped that off from Highlander ;) but really, it's true.

and to paraphrase a friend...
Old School ATS chica 4 life [or until my body gives out ;)]

Love you, Miss C., thank you for all you have given us, much appreciated <3

Tammy said...

The first time I read this, I was scared. Lots of fear of the unknown. Now that I've had time to process it, I think I get it. ATS is art. Art is always evolving. Sometimes slowly, sometimes really fast. While I am "classic" or an "old school girl", I understand what an amazing gift this can be for those who have been dying to create. Dying to let the art evolve. Thank you Carolena for your generosity!

Sam said...

I am reposting this from facebook; it's a reply to a fellow dancer who was confused by the changes and wanted to know why I'd noted how happy it makes me:

Well... it seems like we are one big, quite big, extended tribe now, and Carolena is good with that, and I am, too. I feel like my own creativity has been let off the leash, like the dance goddess has just taken a few cleansing breaths and ...called her children in to bless us and commission us to go out there and do it.

You see, I have huge respect for what Carolena has done with her life's dance work; I signed on for the full experience because I admired the artistic integrity and beauty of the format. I did that after having taught a localized and somewhat distorted version for years, knowing it would require me to re-tool and maybe lose some people along the way. It didn't go that way. They stuck it out with me, to all of our benefits; our discipline and coherence are much better now. We all have a better grasp of the principles that underlie the format. Well worth it! and now we are free to use the work I began to create six years ago when I began teaching, and I can refine it further to better suit the actual framework of ATS. You bet I am happy. And I have work to do!


Carolena, your generosity of spirit is just amazing. Thank you so much for the gift of your art and self- what a beautiful thing you have done! My dancers will always have an Old School foundation, because it's the best. Thank you, and bless you.

LJ Brackenbury said...

as one fairly new to ATS. I come to it from a 'tribal fusion' place where one of my biggest influences and teachers said - you can't call yourself a tribal fusion dancer if you don't know and understand ATS. That resonated and I am so happy I have begun the journey in old school ATS.

there has been so much talk, gossip, whispering about ATS/fusion/where's it going that I am so so glad to have you come out and give your opinion for us all to ruminate on in our souls. ATS isn't for everyone, neither is fusion or any other form of bellydance. Each dancer will find their way to the right format or formats for them. But when I say ATS, I want to mean the ATS that comes from you and your teachings....

thank you Carolena for being you

Jasmine said...

Carolena --

Again, I just want to convey that everyone discussing this announcement has nothing but the utmost respect and love for you as a teacher. I hope you don't think we're ungrateful for the gift you've given us in allowing us to create. I think it's very kind of you to trust us with the dance and have faith that we won't take so much license with it that it loses its essence. In that vein, I wanted to repost a few ideas I had while discussing the announcement on Tribe.

-- No one, especially Sister Studios and other hardcore ATS devotees, wants to lose the ability to dance with ATSers worldwide, and being able to throw down instantly with another dancer is part of many people's draw to the dance form. Because of that, I do feel as though a standardized form of ATS should be maintained that allows people to dance with other men and women outside their own troupe.

-- Instead of delineating between New Style and Old School (which, because even FCBD innovates their moves from time to time, would eventually categorize even the mother troupe as being New Style, and that would just be confusing), why don't we use phrases like "standard ATS" to refer to the globally understood FCBD style and "troupe-specific ATS" to refer to an individual brand of ATS developed by that specific group of dancers. I feel like utilizing these terms would identify those who dance FCBD format and those who've taken more artistic license with the art form, keeping students and dancers from being confused about what dance vocabulary they're expect to know.

-- I (and the rest of the community) recognize how stressful it must be to be held responsible for the introduction and codification of new moves, especially because we rabid ATSers are always hungry for new moves. :-) Because it's an exhausting job to have to standardize all movements included in the ATS dance vocabulary by way of putting out a DVD with the new moves every time they're added, why not create a more informal way of announcing adopted moves? That way, you don't have to go through the huge production headache of creating a new DVD and overseeing its manufacture and distribution. You can just add moves as you go, introducing them to the community one at a time via an official FCBD something-or-other, like a YouTube Channel where each new move is released by way of its own ten-minute video breaking down the movement so that there's less chance of dancers learning it incorrectly just by watching it used in performances. This method would be less stress on you, you wouldn't have to pay production costs beyond what it takes to set up a digital camera on a tripod, and all that would really be required is maybe an hour or two of video editing before making the video live. If it was done well, this could be a whole new way to communicate the FCBD dance vocabulary with the ATS community without having to feel as though you must save up all 10 or 15 new moves, then codify them all at once, then release them on video. And, in reality, the time slots allowed for each move on your DVDs often don't take up more than ten minutes anyway (from what I've gathered watching them -- I haven't precisely timed them or anything), so you wouldn't be cutting yourself short on the time generally needed to explain the moves.

This got long and wordy. You don't have to post it if you don't want to. :-) But I wanted to suggest these options in the hopes that they might ease some of the stress and worry the community places on you at times like this. Even though we can act like a bunch of unruly kids at times, it's only because so many of us hold this dance so near and dear to our hearts, and we're grateful for its presence in our lives. Don't let our silliness get you down. I hope you can strike a balance between what will preserve the dance as well as be a good, healthy move forward for you on a personal level.

<3 <3 <3

-- Jasmine

JoY said...

I just want to say that sometimes people have a hard time taking things at face value from the intended author when things are written out.... and It makes for different interpretations all over the place. For many reasons,interpretations of written communication become skewed and take longer to identify and absorb. I think that multiple reactions have to be anticipated and allowed. That's all.

I dont want to add yet another looong post to this already drawn out excursion-- I just wanted to say that, though.

xox- joy

Many Hands House said...

P.S.
And with the morning light comes clarity and hope. No need to post my last comment. I know every thing's going to be ok.
I'm off to teach Old School ATS.

Totally devoted,

Melanie Moore

JoY said...

Carolena-- Many, many people really did try to uphold your wishes though, and make sacrifices for that purpose. I think that leads to a little distress with this announcement, as logical a development as it may be... it's just adjustment I would guess. all has due process. Sat Nam, and So Hum. <3

JoY said...

jasmine,
great idea to make it easier for new moves to get out to us... Perhaps there is a channel we can subscribe to for a small fee to make sure Carolena gets something for her grand efforts and we can all learn from the posted material? Hell, maybe we can all devote some material to it and get this tribal village up and running, and maintain the flow across the globe?

Carolena Nericcio said...

FRIENDS! Nothing has changed. Nothing has been taken away, I have only included what we ALL are already doing. Let me repeat, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
You do not need to define yourselves as Old School or New School (yes, we can change the titles if you want.) We are ALL both OS and NS. When FCBD creates new moves, whether on purpose or by mistake, we are using NS, but everything comes from OS, does that make sense?
I am not taking a back seat and saying that anyone can do anything and call it ATS. I am saying that those of us that are using the Core/Classic ATS of Old School (Vol.1 and Vol.4), can be free to create a new step or, more likely, a variation without having to take it out of the ATS vocabulary. Just know that someone who doesn't know your variation will have to be taught it before you can flow together.
I really did think about this before I posted it. I talked to the troupe and several Sister Studios. It stemmed from the realization that GS cannot keep expanding to include every new step (several have been created by said Sister Studios and FCBD; hence the mention of the next DVD.) It would make the 4 day 20 hour Intensive longer and more expensive, less accessible for you and more exhausting for me (I do need to be home every now and then!) If you can stop mentally reacting for a moment and go into the studio to dance, I think you will find what you are looking for.
ATS is still an exclusive club, as some of you have said, it's just not as rigid as it used to be. You don't have to create anything new if you don't want to, but if you do, please use the format of Anatomy of a Step from the original post. Show it to me if you want feedback. Just don't turn your back on me because you think that I won't approve of your creativity.
But consider this, and I know of what I speak because I have seen it all, even if you think you don't want to create something new, you will. It may happen by mistake when you are on stage in flow, or it may result from choreographing something for a unique performance space or piece of music. Even if you identify as total Old School, Core, Classic and your moto is "I'm not going to change anything", you might be misinterpreting something from the DVDs. That's an unintentional change, to be sure, but it can happen-and it can lead to creativity as you use it. I've seen it over and over again, and it's OK.
It's OK. It's all OK. We are fine. We are safe. We are solid. We are abundant and generous.

sofia said...

Hi Carolena, thanks for leaving the door open for creative dancing. I know it has always been there and understood the process to have a new move approved, but your manifesto is much more clear.

Having said that, I do have a thought or two which I would characterize more as confusion on my part. I have embraced ATS with my heart and soul since being introduced to it some two+ years ago. I have taken GS twice, teaching training is coming up and my request for sister studio to follow. My troupe and studio are dedicated to the true form of ATS and do not work outside the the definition of ATS as set forth by you. On the other hand, there are troupes that (IMHO) have taken advantage of your definition and meaning of ATS, shaped it to suit their purposes and have diluted the pure form of ATS.

Black Sheep's recent agreement that they will not go by the term "ATS", this again IMHO, stopped a lot of the "cheaters" and eliminated to some degree troupes that know the ATS vocabularly but mixed it with Gypsy Caravan and Black Sheet put other created moves from calling themselves ATS, which by your definition of ATS, they are not.

Embracing ATS in its purest form, taking the necessary steps to become certified in skills and teaching is a big deal for me and my dance partners. We feel that to truly represent the ATS vocabulary and respect ATS and, you, Carolena, it is important to dedicate our resources be it time and or financial to your programs in order to pass along ATS in its purest form.

Having said all of that, I believe your manifesto leaves enough wiggle room for the "cheaters" to come back out of the woodwork and take your words and take advantage of them again to suit their position.

While I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I don't see everyone doing right by your intent and doing the "right" thing.

Just my thoughts Joan Schaefer

Carolena Nericcio said...

Joan, good point. The idea with the relaxing of boundaries around ATS is still not to add in other styles, but to create within the context of ATS Old School.

Foodycat said...

I am one of those people who is very scared of, and resistant to change. And having spent the weekend mulling over this, even I can only say that I feel it is a Good Thing. What are we losing? Nothing. Not a single thing. What are we gaining? Potentially a lot. People who may previously have left ATS because they want to create their own steps can stay and continue to share with us. Troupes can develop their own "new style" steps and feel a further sense of ownership and partnership in the dance. Our differences can bring us together - when we dance with a stranger, we can say "Hey, what was that flourish you did there? That was really pretty" we don't have to let them separate and divide us.

I am taking GS in March, and I have to say it is a great relief that you won't be adding YET MORE new steps to the vocabulary! I am battling to get up to speed as it is.

Thank you, Carolena.

Carolena Nericcio said...

Foodycat! Exactly!

atlas said...

Carolena,

First of all, I want to thank you for everything you have given me and other dancers in our world. It is amazing to think how many people's lives have changed for the better, all because you decided to start to teach.

One of the comments above has caused quite a stir in my neck of the woods. I plan on emailing you this question, as well, but wanted to place it here so that other dancers in the same situation can see the reply, with no "telephone games."

The troupe I am in performs mainly FCBD ATS. We learned from the videos. Our teacher/troupemate has attended Tribal Pura, and we have taken workshops with a FCBD sister studio on occasion. None of us have taken GS or TT due to time/money constraints. However, for the first years of our studies, we were devoted 100% to ATS as we had learned it from the resources we had.

Over time, we decided to add to our vocabulary. Our instructor had learned at Tribal Pura the proper way to construct a move, and also that several steps originated in other styles, but had been adapted to fit ATS. We followed the same theory-- keeping the ATS posture, making sure we start on the "1," etc. Some of our steps have been inspired by or taken from BSBD and GC. However, we always made sure to tell people where these moves came from. We also created some unique steps, as well as variations on existing ATS steps. These were also noted as "not FCBD ATS."

When the last "conversation" happened, we had to make the decision to either remove our unique steps/variations/borrowings from our vocabulary, or stop calling what we did "ATS." We chose to adopt a different label rather than remove our steps.

Now, we are wondering where we stand. Like eight billion other people, we'd like to know what old/new school ruling does to the ATS label. So here's my question, hopefully more succinct than the rest of my post:

If we perform the core/old school ATS steps as we have learned them (from the videos), but add additional steps that we have borrowed from other groups and adapted, are we still ATS? Or are we "cheaters?" We have no intention of our ATS steps dropping below a distinct majority of our vocabulary.

Thank you again. I look forward to your response.

sofia said...

I would like to retract the word "cheaters" from my previous post. I did not mean to charaterize anyone as being dishonest, but tried to characterize the opportunity for some to misrepresent. Thanks Joan

Leslie said...

I just want to grab up a whole bunch of you and dance... Hetsken zich!! Choo-choo-shimmy-shimmy-shimmy ... much love to you alll ... oxoxox

Beledi Boutique said...

On the "flow": As we all know, ATS has the unmatched power to immediately bond strangers into a tribe of sisters. This dance language transcends spoken word, connecting people of any country or culture. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It hit me full on when I found myself in a huge ATS circle, led by Rachel Brice in precise FCBD format. I could never have danced with her if I had not learned a language we both spoke. I knew that night that I wanted to be fluent so I could experience that magic again and again. I believe it is this that we fear losing, but with strong attachment will come preservation by many.

On the nomenclature.: Cabaret dancers differentiate "classical" Egyptian style from other interpretations and is highly respected because of its heritage. If that is what happens with ATS, as I believe it will, I will be even more pleased to help represent the "original gangsta".

tribalissima said...

Dear Carolena

Thank you for allow me translate for portuguese speakers and publish into my blog.

Thank you for this divine dance.

Love
Jaya

Amy said...

Re-posted from Tribe with some editing:

I find this very interesting. I was among the people who thought I was ATS, then found I wasn't once the definition was clarified (and went through a whole gamut of emotions including confusion, sadness, and anger), and have come to peace with my troupe's ATS-esque style. I think that, with this introduction of multiple ATS styles, it is possible we'll see some fantastic innovation. Instead of many mini-FCBD's, I think different troupes or areas of dancers will emerge showing their strengths and bring interesting developments to the dance. At the same time I think dancers and groups that stick tight with how FCBD is doing things will continue to get stronger and keep that core ATS alive.

Do I think everything that comes up will be awesome or fit what Carolena has in mind? No. Do I think people will use the term ATS when their dancing has nothing at all to do with what *is* ATS? Yes, but they'd do that no matter what Carolena or anyone else says. Is this transition going to be smooth and effortless, without lots of questions and clarifications and all that mess? Probably not. It might open up some good dialogue within troupes, communities and the wider ATS world about how people are dancing, why they are dancing, how they want to achieve their dance goals, and the zfuture of the style.

Carolena, it means a lot that you are willing to trust us, thank you!

Carrie said...

Val- I appreciate you calling me out on my contradictory hypocrytical crap. I don't mind being called out. It's a good learning experience for me.
I will say that my post was a direct copy paste from a private conversation that I was having with a few other dancers. I would love to have edited it, and made it seem like I'm a better person (or thought first before opening my mouth), but I didn't think that was an honest way to go about it.

I do accept, admit, and support without labels the recent annoucement about ATS which will make everyone's lives easier and more awesome with happiness, love, and respect.

Temis said...

(FB re-post)
Sometimes I feel lonely, in this funny little corner of the world. Then I remember that however far away I am, I am connected to a life full of beauty and grace through this dance, and the people all over the world who share it. Thank you.

Carolena Nericcio said...

Good morning all, It appears that the "fireside chat" turned into a bonfire! But it seems to be just smouldering now. I will respond to the new entries in a bit, all very thoughtful comments. Thank you for posting to the blog.

Valizan said...

::Pulls out the marshmellows and sips some Reisling::

Carrie, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I was getting up into your face. Far from it. I'm genuinely overjoyed that you have variations that you can use without fearing you're going against the basic tenets of ATS.

Amy's post pretty much sums up most of my ATS journey. The 2007 Reaffirmation by Carolena devastated me in many ways. I felt I was dancing in her name, and all of a sudden Mom chucked me out of the house because I was adopted. :)

I had been following FCBD ATS, I had made some moves of my own, I had added in a few of the BSBD and GC moves I loved. I saw it all as ATS. And then it wasn't. And I had to stop and think of what I wanted to do as an ATS dancer.

The FCBD path was going to be my path, so I followed it. I did a GS, a PURA, went to SF and did private lessons.

I still did and taught things that were outside of the ATS vocab. I made sure to tell people it was not ATS. But when the chance to take the teacher training came up, I got serious about what I was doing.

At the end of my TT, I asked Carolena, in front of the class, about sister studio statuses and what was and was not allowed. Carolena graciously explained. I perform in troupes other than Shades Of Araby, and do other styles of bellydance as well.

Carolena gave clear direction on what she wanted.

However, I didn't ask about Sister Studio status. I really didn't want to leave behind my beloved moves that SOA had created as a group.

One of my tribemates really didn't want to have to limit her creativity by towing only an ATS line. And I empathized with her.

Carolena had said in the past that if we wanted to create variations, we should tell her about them. And I did that at least twice. Both times she graciously gave advice on polishing the move. But there was no fire or brimstone of "YE SHALL NOT ATS!"

Two years passed. ATS friends (Leslie, step forward...) kept encouraging me to go SS. Why hadn't I gone SS?

I love and respect my troupemates too much to force them to do something they truly didn't want to do. But it made it hard for me. I longed for the final level I had worked towards for so long. I worked on getting my &*%$#@ zilling to be decent. I drilled to slow my slow down. I wanted my Egyptians to be clean. But the final reward for my work... I was keeping myself away from it. And I would do it that way again, because I love my troupemates.

Early this year, I talked to the other Shades. I wanted to go SS. I wanted to uphold the ATS standard in my area, since we had another "ATS" teacher start up. And I told them we would have to purge our SOA moves. It was not an easy time. One troupemate said she'd follow my lead. But the other, who is a co-founder balked, as I knew she would. She felt limited. She came around, but I knew she resented it.

So, two years after the fact, I was accepted as the first Brother Studio. I wasn't even sure if Carolena would LET me be a Brother studio. I was thrilled.

Tribalcon was the swansong for SOA's Non-FCBD moves. My class curriculum shrank slightly to be ONLY FCBD.

With this announcement, I feel relief. I don't feel like I've been sneaking into Mommy's liquor cabinet to drink her port while her back is turned. :)

Our original moves and variations will go back back into our vocabulary and go back to dancing in Carolena's name.

I can understand everyone's fear of everything becoming ATS. I look at the indiscipline of so much of the Tribal Fusion out there, and shudder to think that could happen in ATS.

But as was said earlier, this isn't going to change anything. There are already crappy dancers who don't know their Core ATS (Old School in CN's terms) but calling themselves ATS.

And they will attract people who don't know or care about the difference. But out of those people will come people who WILL want to know FCBD moves.

Onward friends...

Carrie said...

I feel like I need to clarify my former stance on opposition to SS innovation. I can absolutely see why the need for flexibility and freedom has been granted. It does make sense.
I can only speak for myself and only Re: some Sister Studios here, when I say that we signed up and were given trust to work hard and get as close as possible to ATS. A goal like that takes a very long time. I only started dancing tribal 6 years ago, and sought out training from Carolena only 3 years ago (for GS, I took a Pura 4 1/2 years ago). I had to relearn the majority of the vocabulary when I started taking the GS. The vocabulary of slow and fast is vast. The possibilities within the current structure are endless. And the refinement of moves is an ongoing process.

So, as stated in a previous post on this blog, mentioned on tribe, and fb- I don't currently have the little voice that tells me to come up with the 'new' (side note- Val, those variations were created by my troupe and none of them are SS's. We've tested them out in performance to see if they would work and planned on asking Carolena about them before making them a habit, but now we can put them through the Gypsy Horizon gauntlet test).

I was never a fan of SS's peaking their heads out of the box too much. I always felt like there was so much to work on and discover as is. In the big bad world of belly dance, I'm still (as is my troupe) very new and young and learning and discovering every day. I don't consider 6 years a master at anything except, perhaps commitment. My stance was that only the 'unicorn' or an exceptional student of FatChance would be able to effectively add to the 'language' after only 6 years. In directing a troupe the last 3 years, I always discouraged them from coming up with variations on the existing structure. "give me a perfect torso rotation and then we'll see" I may have said once or twice. ;-)

I do realize now that it's better for the box to be more flexible. It will be healthy for my troupe and others to relax into our 'dialect' without compromising the integrity of this dance form. It still may be awhile before I'm presenting anything that may inspire my peers, but I look forward to being inspired by their 'voices'.

Leslie said...

"Two years passed. ATS friends (Leslie, step forward...) kept encouraging me to go SS."

Guilty as charged :)

I spend a lot of time over the border with my Canadian Tribal Family, and I could not see why Rob had not gone SS yet. Often, he and I have to agree to disagree, but still, I know this dance means a great deal to him, and I know he is very passionate about it. So... I encouraged.

My time with the dancers over there has really taught me a lot about the "moving language" that ATS really is. When you *do* take ATS and attempt to do it with others whom you do not dance with regularly, learning experiences happen. Or as I prefer to say, magic happens :)

I'd like there to not be tension, but I know everyone is going to have the exact same opinions and feelings. Like I said, agreeing to disagree is a good, respectful route. So, I'm just going to repeat what I post in the ATS FB:

- Hello everyone. In light of the recent announcement from Miss C, please do everyone and yourself a favor, and be gentle with each other's hearts. Be gentle with your words. Think before you speak/post. Respect and kindness will help give way and break down barriers.

And remember...

"Flow is dancing in the divine subconscious."

-Mama C
♥ ♥ ♥

Lilith said...

In reply to the original post I wrote:

Phoning (writing) home - from Vienna, Austria.

First, a huge THANK YOU for creating ATS and letting it out into the world - if it hasn't found me, I'd miss so much beauty and meaning in my life ... now I can't imagine my life without tribal, and though I love fusion, my base, my home is always improvisational tribal style, its moves, its costumes, the feeling I have when I'm dancing with my tribe-sisters ...

I was lucky that I found my troupe just as it was starting. My first contact with tribal style was on youtube , I came across a video of Rachel Brice (surprise!;) and I couldn't stop watching. I found only two tribal teachers in Vienna (it was 2006) and one of them was not teaching anymore, but she wanted to start a troupe and invited me too. So actually through seeing tribal fusion, I found my way to ATS and I am very happy for that!

We were all tribal beginners and learnt a lot from your DVDs and from Shaharazad who first brought tribal to german-speaking countries. Our first performance was choreographed using improv moves, but we soon fell in love with the magic of the improvisation :)

In 2007 our troupe-mama and me took a trip to Milan to take your and Megha's workshops, and the inspiration from that weekend lasted me the whole next year :)
After two years of weekly trainings with the troupe I felt I have a solid enough basics and knowledge of tribal, to go to my first fusion workshop, and there I saw that it was the best preparation for "dancing like all those amazing stars on youtube":)

Now there are more tribal classes in Vienna, but mostly fusion, and I believe I can see that the students with no ATS or ITS experience are missing a vital piece of the puzzle to "get" the style.
I've been teaching my own small group of tribal beginners, and in discussions with them or with anyone interested in the subject and the dance, I always try to talk about the history, the origin, the source of the tribal style.
The more I learned about the dance and the history, the people that formed and influenced it, the more I understood and enjoyed it. I want my students and friends and fellow dancers to know this and feel this too.

kelly said...

Hi Carolena , and thankyou for your very wise words...a big bugbear for me, is when people start to teach ATS and they have not yet fully mastered it themselves , thus it gets taught in a watered down version and technique is lost! I have been studying ATS for 5 years and still have so much to learn , particularly to produce strong improve skills and correct technique. Im fortunate to be able to go to classes by the beautiful DEVI Mamak (BLUE MTNS) our Aussie "CAROLENA".I hope to maybe one day start ATS in the area where I live, but I dare not until Im sure the knowledge I pass on is strong in ATS as it should be... Fusion styles will come and go but Strong roots NEVER disappear.. I like to think of ATS as important to Belly dancing as CLASSICAL BALLET is to all forms of modern dance!

Lindsey said...

Well hello ATS lovers all over the world! It's nice to meet you all. I am a sister studio in Eugene, OR and like many of you, have been wondering what this means for me; for the way I dance and the way I teach. At moments of reading (and re-reading) Mama C's post, I have felt confused, excited, nervous, and worried. But I keep coming back to something Carolena said in my Teacher Training about being a sister studio...she said "it means you're on our team."

I think that's the mantra I'll continue to use. I'm on the ATS team. I'm not a mini FCBD, I don't need to be. But I support the integrity of ATS as a unique dance form with norms, culture and boundaries that make it distinct from fusion, GC, BSBD and other ITS styles. I will uphold that integrity when I dance and teach and when/if I create variations of moves.

I think I understand what it means to be on the ATS team, but my concern is that some people may not understand. Which is why I am very much looking forward to "Anatomy of a Move," as I hope it will give us a very clear understanding of what a moves need to encompass in order to be called ATS.

My wish, Mama C, is for some very clear criteria in this next DVD. Maybe a numbered list or a fancy flowchart (e.g. "Does the move maintain uplifted arms? If yes, proceed to the next question..."). All kidding aside, I realize very clear criteria may seem like we're spelling out common sense, but I am very concerned that not everyone has the same ATS common sense. If you showed one hundred dancers a new move and asked us if it works as NS ATS, would we all give the same answer...I don't know. I'm worried that we will all have different interpretations of what ATS is.

So, though it may be difficult to write "rules" for such a creative, beautiful dance, I think that spelling out the criteria for knowing if something is ATS...very clearly...with no room for misinterpretation...would be very helpful.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you do!
Lindsey

imigula1 said...

It seems fairly clear (to me, at least), that if the vast majority of your moves are FCBD, and you have created some of your own variations on these moves, added a few unique moves, and modified a few GC and BSBD moves to fit within the ATS format, you are invited back into the club. I have also gathered from previous posting on Tribe, that GS and TT is not a requirement to identify as ATS. As clear as it seems to me, I would appreciate a solid "yes" or "no". Another troupe in our area that is Pure FCBD and has taken GS and TT and plans to request Sister Studio status, is vehemently opposed to us coming back into the fold. Despite what Carolena has written, we are still being told that we are not pure FCBD and have no GS or TT and therefore are not ATS. Labels are not that important to our troupe and we recently, as a courtesy to this other troupe, changed our website from 'ATS Troupe' to Improvisational Belly Dance Troupe'. None of us is rushing to change it back to ATS, but we do take issue with someone else trying to dictate to us how we should describe ourselves, having gone so far as to suggest that we not use the term ATS in any description of ourselves, and that we are not truly 'trained' in ATS as we haven't studied with Carolena. Until some higher authority gives us a definite 'yes' or 'no', I fear this will continue to be a distraction to both our troupes. Any help in getting us back to dancing for the joy of it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Imigula

Ottavina said...

Reposted from FB:
Ottavina/Monica: After reading everything that has been posted, discussed, etc., I was going to ask you if my take was correct, which, seems to be..and that is, in a nutshell:
"Hey, folks! We've got a bunch of great classic ATS moves and steps. No matter what, learn them, and use them. *If you've done that for a long while and really comprehend the philosophy of this dance's form and function, you are allowed to create new moves and steps on your own.* No submission of the new ideas, no ATS police! Just stick with the spirit and philosophy of ATS and you're golden."

After reading this FB post of yours...I think I'm close? Anyway, thank you for the clarification and your patience with us. :)"

Carolena: You really hit the nail on the head. Especially [that which is between the *s above].

Flissy said...

Thank you, Carolena, for your generosity in teaching and sharing this dance form, and also for trusting those of us who love it to nurture and share it, too.

I have to say "ditto" to what my troupemate, Amy, says above above.

In addition, we've been starting to dance and play with other local ATS dancers. It's a great experiment in "flow," and I do think it makes it easier to limit the movements so that everyone can dance rather than just follow along. I think back to the performance in the Volume 1 DVD, which is still one of my favorites, because the connection between you all and the music is so obvious and pure, even though the movements are basic ones.

On the other hand, it is also so much fun to see what other troupes variations are, how they negotiate transitions, and get to play that way as well. I hope that this discussion will encourage us to play together more, and set us all on the path to be divine and creative dancers.

This seems like a really exciting time for ATS and I can't wait to continue this discussion at TT in November!

Shay Moore said...

I haven't said to much on this topic, because I can see there has been a lot of confusion and fear surrounding it, and I don't want anyone to feel shut down or further flustered by anything I might say. But since the dust is settling a little bit, I thought I would share some thoughts I have been mulling over this last week since the announcement. Let me start with a little story...

My last troupe, inFusion Tribal, performed at several high-profile events with another ATS-based troupe from Bend, OR, Gypsy Fire directed by Quinn Fradet. Both of our groups were not strictly ATS troupes, though we were each well versed in ATS terminology (Quinn started many years ago in FC classes in SF, and she and I have completed not only General Skills, but two levels of Teacher Training, and teach ATS-based repertoire in our classes and in our troupes), but we each had robust languages of our own, as well as some minor variations on the ATS vocabulary we had made to suit our tastes. Since we lived so far apart, we directors would discuss music and staging through e-mail, but we only had one rehearsal all-together, 2-3 hours in length, the day before or the day of the performance itself, to prepare a half an hour set using both our troupes separately and together.

At these rehearsals, we would hammer out what vocab was universal, which was off-limits, and in many cases would share variations or new moves with each other and decide whether or not to add these "signature" concepts to the mix. For instance, I had a duet with Lexi, one of the members of the Gypsy Fire, and we had a planning discussion during our single rehearsal as a group. She showed me a couple of her favorite moves she often likes to pull out. This included some common vocab, but also some moves that were their own creation. At this time I had the opportunity to veto any I didn't think I could follow without more practice, but in all cases they were moves which were created thoughtfully in the ATS style and structure, and thus was easy to adapt to as a follower if you were aware it might come up. And I did the same for her in return. When we got up there, we improvised completely, not knowing who was going to take the lead when or how, and we even had a little "battle" in a few places where we were switching leads back and forth every few measures as we mischievously played leader tug-o-war, and it was awesome! It looked seamless and playful, and we had a lot of fun. The audience could sense that tribal magic, that connection and communication, but had no idea we were from two different "dialects" of tribal.

This is essentially what I see this "Old School/New Style" ATS announcement fostering. Allowing (and encouraging!) people like Quinn and I as directors and teachers, and our troupes as well, to follow our creative bliss, while still staying true to ATS aesthetics and philosophies. This empowers everyone to create moves and ideas which are reflections of our troupe's individual creative visions, but still be part of a larger ATS "family" with whom we can collaborate and support. We don't want to be mini-Fat Chances, but that doesn't mean we don't love the format and use it as our foundation. When creating new moves and ideas, we use an ATS "filter", to ensure that the move follows basic guidelines in presentation and execution that allows it to "flow" within the format. And it sounds like Carolena is quite savvy to Quinn's and my demographic--as creative, thoughtful, respectful ATS-based-yet-not-ATS-strict who seek to stay true to the ATS-core in our work-by developing the "Anatomy of a Step" video, breaking down the elusive components of a successful ATS presentation when creating new concepts. It's brilliant, really, and I can't wait to add it to my library to strengthen my efforts to be inspired and guided by the art form she has honed over decades.

(had to split into two posts for length, please read on below)

Shay Moore said...

I see this announcement as really just an acknowledgment of, and frankly a welcome validation of, what has already been happening in the tribal world. We focus so much on those tribal branches of the tree who innovate so relentlessly that they barely even do bellydance anymore, that we forget about the dancers and troupes who have respectfully maintained standards of ATS while innovating thoughtfully and enthusiastically (the Middle Child of Tribal, if you will). And, to be honest, all the while feeling somewhat relegated to "outsider" status when it comes to that which they feel so passionate about and advocate for in their classrooms and beyond: an understanding of and preserving of ATS format, aesthetics, and philosophies. Whether you aspire to be a Sister Studio or plan to forge your own path, this goal is something we agree on. Just because these dancers didn't choose to stay strict-ATS in their artistic expression doesn't mean they weren't working just as hard to preserve and protect ATS as an ideal of bellydance 'standards and practices', if you will.


Those who choose to closely follow in FatChance's footsteps will still have that joy and freedom to do so. The body of work endorsed by FatChance, through their workshops and videos, will continue to be a yard stick for technique and presentation. Sister Studios will continue to be part of that standard by which ATS will be measured. Acknowledging and empowering this not-at-all-new branch of the ATS tree isn't taking anything away from anyone. I know that it feels like that to many, but I hope that they will see that you have been surrounded by these dancers all along--you have supported them, admired them, connected with them, shared with them, inspired them and been inspired in return. They're strong and respectful dancers who are valuable contributors to the ATS community already. Carolena is now putting her arm around those dancers and saying, "Welcome to the family, we're glad you're here." And I think that is a benefit to everyone, don't you? I hope so...

I think it may feel uncertain on the face of it, and I completely understand that change is difficult no matter what form it takes, but I feel it's a very exciting time to be part of the ATS community, and I look forward to seeing what we all create together.

Carolena Nericcio said...

Wow Shay, I couldn't have said it better myself!

But I'll try to :)

I'll be posting Part Three in a day or so, hoping to quell everyone's fears and clarify all the (thoughtful) questions and concerns.

I'm on my way to Boston, so stay tuned!

Jade said...

Hi Carolena! I wrote my response on my blog here: http://jadedancer.com/2010/09/26/my-reaction-to-carolenas-ats-old-school-ats-new-style/

It is a little long to copy and paste all of it here, but most importantly:

"I am very grateful for Carolena's recent decision. I can stop doubting myself. I can stop scrutinizing. I can stop worrying about whether or not I am teaching ATS, or ATS based on Fat Chance ATS, or ITS, or ITS with some ATS, or ATS with a little ITS. I think Carolena has done a wonderful job of clarifying the standards and boundaries for the category of ATS. We know what our fundamental moves, cues and transitions are. They are everything the dance is built on. They are the foundation and we should stay consistent with the style and format, but are now free to create.

Thank you Carolena, for setting us free and allowing us to grow. I will do my best to represent the dance form with integrity and beauty."

<3 Jade

Carolena Nericcio said...

Nancy Young can you repost your not? I get an error code when I try to post it. Thanks.

Nancy Young said...

I’ve been mulling the manifesto and all the comments, trying to collect my wits.

First of all: thank you, Carolena, for ATS, for your professionalism and your ethics, for your guidance, and for caring so deeply about the ATS community.

Before sharing my thoughts, I need to set out some terminology, building on Carolena's terms.

Terminology for ATS steps:

* Old School = Tribal Basics vols. 1 and 4, and the principles Carolena set out in the “formula” in the manifesto;

* FatChance New Style = Tribal Basics vol. 7 and any steps that Carolena officially adopts into the vocabulary in the future;

* Other New Style = steps that people other than FC have created in accord with Old School, but that Carolena has not yet officially adopted.

Terminology for versions of ATS:

* ATS Neat = uses Old School and FatChance New Style steps only.

* ATS Plus = uses Old School, FatChance New Style, and Other New Style steps.

Now some thoughts. As for the manifesto, I get why ATS Neat freaks may feel a bit shaken, since I’m one of them. Even before the manifesto, ATS purity was hard to achieve, since we inevitably interpret things differently, we get things wrong, we bring our differing abilities and body types and personalities to our “pure” dance. And now Carolena has invited people to deliberately create new stuff and call it ATS. Eek.

But really, if Carolena is OK with it, why shouldn't we be? We can stick to ATS Neat till the cows come home and not fret about our ATS Plus sisters who like to create. Less tension, more joy. (You go, Foodycat!)

In fact, I feel a lot more joy than worry about the manifesto. For one thing, like Hollie, I see it as Carolena taking care of herself, and that makes me glad. Carolena, for a long time I’ve worried that you will burn yourself out with all your globe trotting piled on top of directing a world-class troupe, running a studio, managing a retail business, producing videos, and dealing with all of us. Now you’ve resigned as the ATS police, and that’s got to be a load off your back. I hope you feel relieved and invigorated! Further, I’m glad that you feel acknowledged by us, the “next generation of students” who “started to recognize the true ATS, and me.” And I’m glad that you feel safe with us — safe enough even to trust us with the gift of principled creative freedom, even if that's a spooky idea for ATS Neat dancers.

By giving this gift, you have, it seems to me, officially acknowledged ATS, your baby, as a mature art form with a life of its own and sent it off with your blessing. For me—and maybe this is just me—the gift also feels like your official acknowledgment of us, the ATS community, not just as acolytes practicing your dance but as artists inspired by your vision. This is so whether we choose ATS Plus or ATS Neat. As a Neat dancer, I have sometimes struggled with a sense of myself as a clone or wannabe—I haven’t known quite how else to label what I do. Your gift of principled creative freedom is helping me get beyond that. I won’t be creating any new moves, but now my Neatness is strictly my own choice as an artist in my own right. Of course it always was. But now my choice has no shadow of police; no “should” or “ought” or “must.” Further, as Amy noted, the importance of ATS Neat studios in helping to keep the core dance alive and flourishing is now perhaps even greater than it was before. What an honor!

Finally, Carolena, a plea for a bit more guidance. Like Melanie, I’d much appreciate clarification of what the Manifesto means for Sister Studios. Are we to teach only ATS Neat in our Level 1-3 classes, and do ATS Plus (if we do it at all) only in troupe practice and performance? At what point should we introduce the concept of ATS Plus to our students? Maybe these would be good questions to discuss in Teacher Training 2.

Nancy Young said...

I’ve been mulling the manifesto and all the comments, trying to collect my wits.

First of all: thank you, Carolena, for ATS, for your professionalism and your ethics, for your guidance, and for caring so deeply about the ATS community.

Before sharing my thoughts, I need to set out some terminology, building on Carolena's terms.

Terminology for ATS steps:

* Old School = Tribal Basics vols. 1 and 4, and the principles Carolena set out in the “formula” in the manifesto;

* FatChance New Style = Tribal Basics vol. 7 and any steps that Carolena officially adopts into the vocabulary in the future;

* Other New Style = steps that people other than FC have created in accord with Old School, but that Carolena has not yet officially adopted.

Terminology for versions of ATS:

* ATS Neat = uses Old School and FatChance New Style steps only.

* ATS Plus = uses Old School, FatChance New Style, and Other New Style steps.

Now some thoughts. As for the manifesto, I get why ATS Neat freaks may feel a bit shaken, since I’m one of them. Even before the manifesto, ATS purity was hard to achieve, since we inevitably interpret things differently, we get things wrong, we bring our differing abilities and body types and personalities to our “pure” dance. And now Carolena has invited people to deliberately create new stuff and call it ATS. Eek.

But really, if Carolena is OK with it, why shouldn't we be? We can stick to ATS Neat till the cows come home and not fret about our ATS Plus sisters who like to create. Less tension, more joy. (You go, Foodycat!)

In fact, I feel a lot more joy than worry about the manifesto. For one thing, like Hollie, I see it as Carolena taking care of herself, and that makes me glad. Carolena, for a long time I’ve worried that you will burn yourself out with all your globe trotting piled on top of directing a world-class troupe, running a studio, managing a retail business, producing videos, and dealing with all of us. Now you’ve resigned as the ATS police, and that’s got to be a load off your back. I hope you feel relieved and invigorated! Further, I’m glad that you feel acknowledged by us, the “next generation of students” who “started to recognize the true ATS, and me.” And I’m glad that you feel safe with us — safe enough even to trust us with the gift of principled creative freedom, even if that's a spooky idea for ATS Neat dancers.

By giving this gift, you have, it seems to me, officially acknowledged ATS, your baby, as a mature art form with a life of its own and sent it off with your blessing. For me—and maybe this is just me—the gift also feels like your official acknowledgment of us, the ATS community, not just as acolytes practicing your dance but as artists inspired by your vision. This is so whether we choose ATS Plus or ATS Neat. As a Neat dancer, I have sometimes struggled with a sense of myself as a clone or wannabe—I haven’t known quite how else to label what I do. Your gift of principled creative freedom is helping me get beyond that. I won’t be creating any new moves, but now my Neatness is strictly my own choice as an artist in my own right. Of course it always was. But now my choice has no shadow of police; no “should” or “ought” or “must.” Further, as Amy noted, the importance of ATS Neat studios in helping to keep the core dance alive and flourishing is now perhaps even greater than it was before. What an honor!

Finally, Carolena, a plea for a bit more guidance. Like Melanie, I’d much appreciate clarification of what the Manifesto means for Sister Studios. Are we to teach only ATS Neat in our Level 1-3 classes, and do ATS Plus (if we do it at all) only in troupe practice and performance? At what point should we introduce the concept of ATS Plus to our students? Maybe these would be good questions to discuss in Teacher Training 2.

Carolena Nericcio said...

Nancy,
Great post, very articulate, thank you.
I think there is a gross misconception that I am encouraging the whole world to go wild with ATS.
All I'm saying is that if you are doing a form of Tribal and you consider it ATS, please call it that.
And, if you are creative, but sticking to the "filter", please go ahead and create but know that I probably won't be adding any more "official" moves to GS.
I'd love to see them though, and will offer advice and guidance.
Finally, a Sister Studio that doesn't want to create anything new (I feel the same way!) isn't "less than" a Studio that wants to create.
I'll be posting Part Three very soon along with a contest to name the old/new styles.

icy said...

Nancy - thank you for expressing so well what others have been thinking but didn't know how to express it INCLUDING me.
I have had my emotional hands full lately, so I could hardly intellectually proceed without sounding like a "nimrod."
Thank you Carolena, and thank you the "other" Nancy from this "other" Nancy. :)

harleygypsy2003 said...

I feally enjoyed this info.I am currently taking egyptian and gypsy type class, from instructor, who taught in Egypt. I am drawn to ATS, and glad to hear that it is good to make my mistakes work for me. I have an anatomy with straighter back and when imitating dancers online, found your style more comfy for me. being tattoed, before it was a style,I feel a bit of distaste from some, and find some egyptian moves a bit more difficult, I have progresses rapidly, however, considering I never had formal dance classes. I plan on checking out another class when I get more knowledge of current style. Now, with help of your enlightening article, I will know what to look for in jargon of other styles,I really want to buy dvd in april. I have a question,what style is Rachel Brice considered and ansuya. I want to give you utmost respect and being a perfectionist, I wanna do things correctly and uphold your contribution to dance and give proper credit to your style,etc.thanks for sharing. i

Keyle Rece said...

i m well sure about these ideas in your version of American Tribal Style Belly Dance. thanks for bring pretty impressive post.




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