05 December 2015

Sat 5 Dec 2015 class notes and playlists

Level 1 playlist: from the CD Sirocco Vol. 1, Sirocco Nai, part of the song Country Dance.
Available: FCBD® Catalog

02 December 2015

Tue 1 Dec 2015 class notes and playlists

Level 1 Playlist- Sirocco Drone, part 2 of Country Dance, on the CD Sirocco Vol. 1.
Available at the FatChanceBellyDance® Online Catalog.

28 November 2015

Sat, 28 Nov 2015 class notes and playlists

Sankarabaranam Pancha Nadai Pallavi
By Shankar and the Epidemics
CD: Passion Sources (Peter Gabriel used these original recordings as inspiration for the soundtrack to the movie The Last Temptation of Christ.)

Dramatic slow. Tabla, ghatam, double violin, tanbura.

I like to think that this piece of music originated from the sounds of Indian cooking. If you have ever made dahl with vagar, you know what I mean. First you boil the beans, then you add the spices and simmer. When the beans have cooked you take them off the fire and prepare that vagar by sautéing dried chiles and mustard seeds in oil, adding a pinch of hing at the end. Then you flip the frying pan over the bean pot and there is a big “whoosh” as the hot spices hit the water! It’s really exciting to do, great to eat and this song sounds like the whole process! I’m hungry now…

21 October 2015

Tues 20 Oct, 2015 L1 & L2 class notes, plus playlists for L1, L2, & Dancing In Flow®

   Additional song on the playlist for Level 1 is  Sirocco Drone (Arghool) from the CD Sirocco Vol. 1 available at: http://catalog.fcbd.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=67_69&products_id=205

            Additional song on the playlist for Dancing In Flow® is Kali Sara from the CD Latcho Drom.

18 October 2015

Sat 17 Oct, 2015 L1, L2 & L3 class notes and playlists

Additional song in L2 is Sirocco Nai part of the song Country Dance on the CD Sirocco Vol. 1. Available: http://catalog.fcbd.com/

16 October 2015

Thurs 15 Oct, L3 class notes and playlist (bonus playlist for Dancing In Flow®)


The last song on the Dancing In Flow playlist is Encuentro Final, from the CD Macama Jonda.

07 October 2015

6 Oct 2015 class notes and playlists

Also played in Level 1: Sirocco Nai on the CD Sirocco Vol. 1 part of Country Dance, available on  the FatChanceBellyDance® online catalog

06 October 2015

Sister to Sister Update Oct 2015-Newletter from Kelley Beeston

                                                                                                   Update October 2015

Dear Friends,
Towards the end of this week my husband Mike, accompanied by Arnold Djuma of CVPD (Coalition of Volunteers for Peace and Development), will arrive in the small town of Sake to deliver the news that the women will have a sewing workshop thanks to the help and support of all of you who have donated either through the online StartSomeGood campaign or who have previously and subsequently donated directly to me.
Mike visits Congo five or six times a year whilst I only manage to get there once or twice each year. So I am very sad on this occasion that I shall not witness the sheer joy of all concerned when they hear the news. I can picture the scene however as I know the women will turn out in their best Sunday clothes as a mark of respect to their visitors, they will sing and dance and zaghareet because Mike and Arnold promised to come back and they have.

I’d like to give you a little background information about our project and explain some of the issues we will have to deal with as we progress.
Congo has had a violent and turbulent history for centuries and in recent years the Kivu region we are working in has been subject to the most horrendous atrocities by rebel militias some of whom are still hiding in the hills only a few miles from Sake where we will be setting up our workshop.

The good news is that the Congolese government is taking steps to remove the rebels from the area and Arnold has already earmarked a few buildings that may work well as a workshop but our primary concern is safety and security.

He has decided that it is best to have the sewing workshop in the centre of town, rather than in the rural surroundings where the training workshop is, as it offers better security and will take advantage of Sake's trading crossroads.

In the months to come we will be taking the advice of Arnold who is an experienced human rights worker specialising in supporting the victims of  gender based violence, rape, torture and slavery – yes there is still slavery going on in Congo. We will also be listening to the village elders and our own Congolese team from Ensemble Pour La Difference.
We now have 40 women who have gone through the 6 month training programme – some of these women are the victims of rape and torture who continue to suffer because they have been discarded and alienated by society.  Our plan is to re-integrate them into society and we hope you will understand that in order to do that we have to protect their identity.

There are many taboos in Congo and Mike and I have already learned that it is socially unacceptable in Congo for us to single out any one person, for example, using a photograph depicting an individual for a poster or on a business card would be taboo in Congo. Equally if we show a photograph and imply that that woman has been raped she would be immediately ostracised should she be recognised. So please understand why we can’t introduce you to some of our ladies or tell you all of their stories. 

You have all probably seen the poster we used for our fundraising campaign which appeared as an advert in the second issue of The ATS Magazine. Perfectly acceptable for us here but we could not use this in Congo.

If they are willing to share then of course we will but many are just trying to forget – if you missed this short video then it introduces a young woman Lumulu Shakwa who felt it was important to tell you what a sewing workshop will mean for her:

I could tell you all about the horrors that have occurred. I could give you graphic descriptions that would give you nightmares for the rest of your life. I have heard stories which leave me completely unable to comprehend the mentality of some to conjure up the most twisted sick things you could do to a woman – but this is not what the Congolese people want. They have suffered enough and want to leave this past behind and move forward to a better life. 
So I won’t be dwelling on the past even though that is what tends to get people to open their wallets. 

We have so far raised enough money to actually start the project but do need to continue our efforts to get to the ultimate goal of $15,000 which will enable us to keep the workshop running in it’s first year and will also mean we can buy extra machines, especially as we now have even more women who have successfully completed their training.
On behalf of our women in Sake I would like to thank you all once again for making this happen and would ask you to keep spreading the word and encouraging others to do whatever they can to help us raise the rest of the money required. We have a long, tough road ahead so please be patient and I’ll be in touch later in the year when we have some more news for you but in the meantime please feel free to forward this update to anyone you think may be interested in helping.

Contraception on Idjwi

In addition to the Sewing Workshop Sister to Sister has a second project so I would also like to thank those of you who have already sponsored a sister on the island of Idjwi in the middle of the stunningly scenic Lake Kivu.
With the personal support of Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman, founder of ATS® belly dance, we are working with a group of women to help provide contraceptive implants for the poorest and most vulnerable women on the island.
It is common for a woman to have 8 or more children, for some that means giving birth every year. She is often exhausted because in addition she has to perform hard manual labour to survive.
Esperance, the wife of the Mwami (regional king), and her aide Henriette have succeeded in educating 4,560 women in family planning. These women now want to take control of their lives and their bodies and either stop having more children altogether or would like to increase the spacing between children to allow their bodies time to recover before falling pregnant again. Their preferred option is a contraceptive implant protecting  them for either 3 or 5 years.

This short video explains in the women’s own words how important this project is to them.
The cost of the implant is about the price of a couple of cups of coffee -  £5 ($7) including insertion by trained staff using sterile equipment in one of 3 medical clinics on the island. The irony is that many of our women are coffee farmers and just don’t make enough money to save to buy an implant so we are inviting the world-wide dance community (not just ATS) to ask if you would partner one or more women and buy their implant for them   

So far we have provided $1,000 which has given the clinic buying power - it means that they can place a bigger order and get a discount. Just over 150 women have now received an implant as a result of your generosity and sponsorship - this is direct action with every single penny of your donations going directly into the projects as Mike and I cover all our own costs.

If you would like to partner a woman on Idjwi you can gift via the DONATE button at the bottom of the page on my website
Very very many thanks for taking the time to read this and for any help you are able to give in spreading the word and for any support you are able to give to these projects - it really is very much appreciated.


15 September 2015

OPTIONAL New Class Format at FatChanceBellyDance®

Hi All,

Don’t panic! The new format is optional
If you like the original format, feel free to keep using it. You can see the original format here here

If you fancy variation, have a look at the new format.

Back in the day, when I was the only teacher, I taught by the seat of my skirt. I would assess the room and decide the best course of action, for both the students and myself. It was sometimes simple, sometimes complex but everyone survived.

Fast forward to the expansion of the FCBD® Studio, multiple teachers and the need for structure; The 6-Week L1 and 12-Week L2 courses were born. We created a system to teach the basics in L1 Dance Fundamentals that followed the simpler steps in the Tribal Basics Vol. 1 DVD plus Zils from Vol. 3 and formations from Vol. 6. L2 Tribal Combinations expanded on the steps in Tribal Basics Vol. 4, with the addition of chorus from Vol. 6. Everything was neat and tidy and mimicked the chronology of the FCBD® DVDs.

We ran L1 and L2 as complete courses with the option to drop-in, as all courses must allow for flexibility in San Francisco where distractions abound.

While I was on the road, from 2008-2012, the FCBD® Studio Teachers held down the fort. When I returned to teaching at the FCBD® Studio, I followed suit. However, after the first year I realized that I was more tuned into the agenda than the students, and I was feeling stifled.

So, in 2015 I created a new format (remember, it’s optional) based on the simplicity and complexity of steps rather than the chronology of the DVDs. If you’ve followed the publication of the DVDs you know that some of the newer steps are quite simple, while some of the original steps are complex. We’ve leveled that out with the new format by placing the simpler steps in L1 and L2 with bonus options and placed the more complex steps in L3, with bonus options as well.

Here’s how it works: send us an email and we’ll send you a PDF of the new format. 
Across the top you can list the dates of classes in your 6-Week L1 or 12-Week L2 series. In the boxes beneath you can choose which step to teach and check off the step or steps for that week. Whether you are the only teacher, or have multiple teachers you can see what has been taught in the preceding weeks and select the best steps or steps for the current week.

And remember, it’s optional


08 August 2015

What's In A Name?

What’s in a name?

As our ATS® family grows and we continue to add more opportunities for advanced training, we began to ponder what to call each new designation.  After much deliberation, we have created a “cheat sheet” for you to use when explaining who you are and what your relationship to FatChanceBellyDance, Inc. entails.

Please feel free to use these titles on your business cards, marketing materials, etc.

Stay tuned for our NEW CUSTOMIZABLE FatChanceBellyDance® business cards, postcards, and other promotional materials coming soon!!

FatChanceBellyDance® Studio Instructors- “FatChanceBellyDance® Studio Instructor”
The designation FCBD® Studio Instructor or FCBD® Instructor is reserved for only those instructors who teach at the home studio in San Francisco.

GS graduates- “American Tribal Style® Certified”
If you have completed your GS, but not your TT, then you are ATS® Certified.

TT graduates- “American Tribal Style® Certified Instructor”
If you have completed GS and TT, but not sought Sister Studio status, then you are an ATS® Certified Instructor.

Sister Studio approved TT graduates- “Sister Studio” or “FCBD® Sister Studio”
Sister Studio status is only for approved TT graduates.  You may also list that you carry the GS and TT certifications if you wish but you don’t need to do so.

SSCE participant- “Sister Studio re-certified 2015 (or insert year)”
Once you have completed your re-certification, then you can use the re-certified designation.  Re-certification must continue annually to keep the title.

SSCE instructors- “Sister Studio Continuing Education Instructor”
For those who have been invited to issue SSCE credit through teaching private lessons or workshops.

ATT graduates- “Advanced Teacher Training Certified”
For those who have successfully completed the Advanced Teacher Training

Please remember to use our ® when referring to:
American Tribal Style®
Dancing in Flow®

13 July 2015

Sister to Sister Project

When I was 10 years old, my mother asked me if I wanted a microscope or a sewing machine. After carefully weighing the options I chose the sewing machine. Little did I know that receiving that sewing machine was the equivalent of being given the keys to a rocket ship. It exploded the world where I felt trapped, and gave me the tools to a life of self-sufficiency.

By the age of 13 I had started to learn about the rest of the world. Ever an empathetic kid, I was shocked and sickened when I learned that there were cultures where women were forced to marry, work as slaves, experience rape, bear more children than they could care for and die in childbirth. I decided that I was never going to have children, out of solidarity with those women.   I knew that I was fortunate to have access to contraceptives that allowed me to make that decision for myself.

Fast forward to a conversation with Kelley Beeston in 2014. I couldn’t believe that she was supporting the women of Congo with contraceptives and sewing machines! Sewing machines that promise those same keys to self-sufficiency that I had received as a child.  When she asked if I’d help promote the cause I felt as if my life had finally come full circle.

I have always wondered why the universe chose a shy little girl from the suburbs to represent the world-wide culture of American Tribal Style® Dance. This was the reason: so that I could use my influence and connections to extend aid to women.

The Sister to Sister project will establish a sewing co-operative in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo to help women who have been tortured and raped to re-integrate into society.  Through sewing, the women can earn money and regain a place in the society that rejected them because of their suffering.

Kelly Beeston, Sister Studio and Advanced Teacher Training graduate, is working with local community leaders to make this dream a reality. You may have read the article “Sister to Sister” by Kelley Beeston on page 40 of the inaugural issue of The ATS® Magazine outlining how she and her husband set up a community interest company www.luminosity.org.uk  to support people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are working to improve daily life and build businesses for the common good as well as their own.

I’d like to invite everyone in our dance community and beyond to participate in the Sister to Sister project .  We have launched a fundraising campaign through StartSomeGood  http://startsomegood.com/sistertosister  which fully explains the project. Sponsored a shimmy fundraiser,  ask for collections at the ATS® flash mob, organize a haflah or performances, or give generously.  We need to raise $15,000 to set up and run the workshop for one year.  The StartSomeGood campaign ends at 9.00pm EST on August 21st.

Thank you for making a difference.

05 July 2015

Sat 4 July 2015 L1,L2 & L3 class notes with playlists

Listed under music in the L3 class notes is Country Dance; it is on the Sirocco Vol. 1 CD, and is not available through iTunes.  You will find it available for purchase on our online catalog: http://catalog.fcbd.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=67_69&products_id=205.

30 June 2015

Why Folklorists (Should) Love American Tribal Style® Belly Dance

Why Folklorists (Should) Love American Tribal Style® Belly Dance

Carolena Nericcio, creator of American Tribal Style® Belly Dance, dancing with her troupe, Fat Chance Belly Dance®
I was recently chatting with a folklore colleague who was thinking about starting belly dance classes, specifically, American Tribal Style® Belly Dance classes (or ATS for short). It occurred to me if folklorists knew what made ATS different from other styles of belly dance, would be all over this as something interesting and neat to talk about with the concepts of our discipline.
Here’s why (in handy bullet point form):
  • ATS is an improvised dance form using an agreed-upon movement vocabulary to communicate and create within the moment. It shows us how artistic performers utilize the tools in their creative toolbox (in this case, the dance moves) to create an emergent performance, much like epic singers or fairy-tale tellers might also do, but with the body instead of with words and phrases.
  • ATS exemplifies tradition and variation at work. The way you’re “supposed” to do the moves is the stable current of tradition, while the “flavor” that develops in troupe worldwide (intentionally or not) is the dynamic of variation.
  • ATS is only a few decades old, so it represents a fledgling folklore genre and folk group that we can study as it moves through infancy into maturity. There are already offshoots (Improvisational Tribal Style/ITS, tribal fusion, and countless other takes on tribal/improvisational belly dance), which makes for an intriguing example of cause-and-effect and community-building in action.
  • Material culture galore! The costuming style of ATS is unique and rich in texture, color, sound, weight… so many things! I would refer anyone who’s interested in this particular aspect of ATS to my article, “’Whether it’s coins, fringe, or just stuff that’s sparkly': Aesthetics and Utility in a Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Troupe’s Costumes.” Midwestern Folklore 32 (1/2). (Terre Haute: Indiana State University Press). 83-97.
  • Because ATS incorporates dance moves from the Middle East (as well as from Indian classical dance, flamenco, and Gypsy dances to a degree), practitioners have an interesting relationship with the idea of “authenticity.” Most dancers agree that they’re not trying to recreate an actual tribe’s dances or costumes, but rather that ATS is a fusion that draws on these elements. But we could be having a conversation about cultural appropriation, too… is it all roses and sunshine in ATS-land? It’s a tough call, and more scholarship might be illuminating.
  • Verbal arts abound: personal narratives (how one got into the dance, transformative moments while dancing, funny run-ins with other troupes’ “flavors” that you didn’t pick up on at first), legends about origins of the dance, folkspeech such as naming practices, greeting and cheering (zagarheet anyone?), etc. Plenty of customary folklore, too: haflas, finger cymbal/zil practices, and obviously the whole body of dance movements that we collectively learn and perform
  • ATS dancers are an intentional community, a folk group comprised of hobbyists and professionals (and everything in between) who develop a shared worldview and esoteric understandings of the beauty of women’s bodies, the value of exercise in otherwise sedentary cultures, and the importance of clear and direct communication, among other things. I’ve seen ATS dancers develop greater body awareness and confidence/self-esteem, likely as a result of practicing this dance form. How is that not interesting to folklorists?
  • Perhaps you’ve noticed all the “®”/registered trademarks appearing in this post. That’s because the creator of ATS and founder of the troupe FatChance BellyDance® wants to protect her creative/intellectual property. Can you really trademark art? Or a dance form? Enough folklorists are engaged in these questions with other folk arts that I think we’d be interested in what makes this instance unique.
I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. I really love this clip where Carolena Nericcio, my teacher and the creator of ATS, explains what it’s all about.
I’d love to hear from other dancers and folklorists on this topic!

21 June 2015

Father's Day

Here's a re-post of an entry from 2010..

I have been trying to start the chapter about my Dad, Carl Nericcio. There is so much to say, that I've decided to do it in small parts.
As some of you might know, he passed away a few years ago just after his birthday, at the age of 88. It was the closing weekend of Devotion 2008.
This morning as I was sorting through some of his things, I came across his driver's license and a hand written combination to a lock. I decided to use them to start an ancestor altar in my house. As I was setting it up, the thought came to me, "I wish we could try again, so I could weather the storm with you."
Our relationship was fractured, due to lots of things that will come to light in future posts. But suffice to say that when I was a child I was confused by his temper. Ever the Capricorn, I kept trying to figure out the pattern to his outbursts, so could stay out of the way. But there was no pattern, he was like a ball, ricocheting off any surface. There was no way to stay out of the way. It took more than 30 years for me to realize that he wasn't angry at me, (the ego gets involved even when it would be less painful to stay out of it!) he was just angry.
I try to live my life without regrets. I don't spend time wishing things could be different. But this morning I wanted to be able to go back in time, to a moment when he was raging and just stand there with him. If I could just put my little-girl hand into his and smile at him without being afraid or running away. Just be there to weather the storm.

26 May 2015

Cues & Tattoos Workshop: Energetic Body, Quiet Mind

A few month's ago at Cues and Tattoos, I taught a workshop called Energetic Body Quiet Mind. The focus of this workshop is to dig deep into core steps and, through repetition, be able to flow with a group of dancers. At one point we diverted into another workshop topic, Touch the Music, to identify favorite songs and hear first person why people chose them.

Here's the list of songs that we came up with. I asked everyone for one contemporary song and one belly dance song. The songs in blue are ones that we used in class, most of the others are the contemporary choices, and a few belly dance songs that we didn't get to.


Carolena’s Recommendations
Please see this recent blog post with a list of my favorite songs.

Suggested Favorites (songs in blue were danced to in the workshop)
“Reich Mir die Hand” by Blutengel
“Aicha” by Cheb Khaled
“Nubian” by Raquy and the Cavemen
“Caravan” by Raquy and the Cavemen
“Misirlou” by Dick Dale
“Sogonie” by Dikanda
“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
“Abadou” by Zap Mamma
“Black Magic Woman” by Santana
“Blessings” by Solace
“Video” by India.Arie
“Improvisations for Guitar” from the House of Tomorrow soundtrack
“Tamatant Tilay” by Tinariwen
“Sella Fina” by Helm
“Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac
“In My Life” by the Beatles
“La Vie en Rose”
“Claire de Lune”
“Le Chat du Rabbin”
“My December” by Linkin Park
“Nierka” by Dead Can Dance
“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
“Frame Drum” by Helm
“Jednou” by Gipsy.cz
“Singin’ in the Bathtub” by Mandy Patinkin
“Zion” by Lauryn Hill
“Hosanni Oo” by Helm
“9 Lives” by Aerosmith
“Bon-syo” by Reuben von Ramsey
“Baburi” by Yuvol Ron
“You Belong to Me” by Annie Lennox
“Sout al Shami”
“Pass the Dutch” by Missy Elliott
Chiftitelli rhythm loop
“Mother” by Danzig
“Nefertari's Dream” by Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thornton
“What I Be” by
“Immortal Egypt” by Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thornton
“Unknown Awareness”
“Beni Beni” by Niyaz
“Paradise” by Sade
“Pictures of You” by the Cure
“Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha” by Deva Premal
 “Charon’s Crossing” by Beats Antique
“Bashraf nawa’ather Yusuf Bey” by Rose Zahran

We also did a bit of Greek line dancing (expect this in the workshops that you take from me!) I wanted everyone to experience how simple it is to pick up a dance when it's a "community" activity. It doesn't really matter if you get it right, you just have to smile and imitate what the other people are doing. The Greek folk song we danced to was “Samiotisa" (Kalamatianos is the name of the 12 step pattern danced to the 7 beat rhythm!.”

08 May 2015

Dancing in Flow® Playlist

Here's a compilation of six of my Dancing in Flow® playlists. Best of the best. Songs that command that I stop thinking and respond to the music.

And here's a re-post of how to teach a Dancing in Flow® Class.

Dancing in Flow®

Dancing in Flow® was created by Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman with the class format of “all dance, no talk.”  Since designing this class, other ATS® instructors have also begun to offer similar classes. 

These guidelines will help to define the class and suggest ways for each teacher to structure and prepare for the class.  Please incorporate them in your own Dancing in Flow® classes.

During the class, there will be no verbal communication.  The teacher will not explain the movements, give feedback to students or comment on what she is teaching.  The only exception to this is when the teacher initially greets the class, explaining what will happen and suggesting that the participants just follow the movements and enjoy without worrying about whether they are doing the movements correctly.

Dancing in Flow® is a one hour class divided into 4 fifteen minute segments with a quiet water break every 15 min. During the first fifteen minutes of class, the brain will chatter as the students become used to dancing continuously. During the second fifteen minutes, the brain will begin to relax.  During the third period of dance, the brain will finally decide to take a vacation to allow the body to enjoy moving.  Finally, during the last fifteen minutes, you will go on auto-pilot into pure bliss.  Maintain the silence at the end of the class to allow the students to leave in this meditative state.

As an instructor, there are only a few things that you need to do to prep for class:
Create a 1 hour playlist alternating between slow and fast songs. 
Choose relatively short songs to allow for variety. 
You should be familiar and comfortable with the music, and more importantly it should literally move you, as the driving force behind the Flow® concept is responding to the music without thinking.

When you are teaching, remember that you are talking exclusively with your body, not using words.  So, you must be clear in your cues and movements so that the class can follow you.