Last year at Tribal Fest I settled down to watch a few FCBD® Sister Studios and I have to admit I was shocked, I had no idea what they were doing! At first I was upset. This is supposed to be a language that we can all understand. How could my own Sister Studios be presenting combinations and formations that I didn't recognize? But then I thought about it and realized that's the nature of growth. Even some of the steps that we (collectively: FCBD®, Devyani, Tamarind and Ghawazi Caravan) put on Tribal Basics Vol. 9 Anatomy of a Step are more short choreography or combo than steps. As much as I'd like us to remain in Classic ATS® for the rest of our lives, I have to open things up for the dance to continue to grow. We now have Classic ATS®, Modern ATS® and ATS® Movement Dialect. Sheesh!
Let's define ATS® Improv vs ATS® Movement Dialect; Improv uses universal ATS® steps that are recognized by all dancers. The steps can be combined in a never ending variety of ways, using cues to move into and out of duets, trios and quartets, which are supported by the chorus. It appears magical to the on-looker but to us it's a highly sophisticated language that is easy to understand once you learn the alphabet and words (steps and variations), grammar (formations) and parts of speech (cues, musicality, etc.)
Here's the boundary: if you can create a variation on an ATS® step that I can follow without you having to explain it, it's still ATS® Improv. If you have to take me aside and teach me the step, combo or choreo, it's ATS® Movement Dialect. Movement Dialect describes the unique combinations and creations of a particular troupe or group. This Movement Dialect naturally evolves through the creative process of personal and group collaboration.
Although American Tribal Style® Belly Dance is largely improvisational, we have always used choreographies when the situation merited. Sometimes you have a show that wants a full spectrum in just a few minutes, or a piece of music that really needs a combo to land in just the right spot. This is a great time to employ a Movement Dialect. It's also a great way to get comfortable with a challenging piece of music, or introduce new dancers to the possibilities of Improv. We do that with our Tribal Combinations L2 class at the FatChanceBellyDance® Studio in San Francisco.
If you have something that you’ve been developing I invite you to share it with me. Here are some guidelines for submission.
- Film your ATS® Movement Dialect; this can be as formal as iMovie, or as informal as a YouTube clip. You many include up to five new moves, limit each demonstration to one minute.
- Include a brief explanation; you can add it as a voiceover, or present it in person when you film it.
- Demonstrate your ATS® Movement Dialect in the context of a brief performance, using approximately 3/4 ATS® Movement Dialect and 1/4 Classic ATS®, so I can see it in context. Limit the performance to 5 minutes.
- Compile this into one video; this may include navigation (preferred) or be presented as one long clip.
- There’s no charge for me to view your ATS® Movement Dialect, as I always enjoy being included in your creative process. However, if you’d like a personalized review and comments, we will set up a 30 minute phone call to provide feedback as we view the video together. The fee for this is $60.