This little pretty is heavily inspired by Mardi Love: She taught a choreography using this song a few years back, and it seems I haven't quite forgotten the figure 8's and pas du barre's yet... So elements are me, and I reckon chunks are subconscious remembering of long forgotten and really lovely choreography.
The song is Temptation Rag by Stalebread Scottie and his Gang.
Our level two choreography video! It is an edited version of Led Zeppelin's song, "The Song Remains the Same" and the whole choreo is about 3 mins: here is the first half.
PRO TIP: You can slow down the video and see it in slo mo if you click on the Settings tab (the little gear picture in the bottom right), click on the Speed tab and the mess around with it.
Calling all students and belly dancers!
I will be hosting a group meal at AL CASBAH Restaurant on Mill Road, Cambridge on Thursday October the 29th. It's a great opportunity to get to know your classmates, talk bellydance, hang out, eat amazing food and watch a little belly dancing!
It's run by me, Demelza Fox, and all belly dance students from across Cambridge are welcome: whether you learn Tribal with me in my classes or Egyptian belly dance with another Cambridge teacher.
I will be doing a belly dance performance as part of the evening too!
If you would like to come along, please just pop me an email so I can add your name to the reserved tables list: I need to know how many seats to reserve for our belly dancing massive
Just pop me an email or fill out the handy form below.
(Please note we have had a venue change to Al Casbah. just down the road from Bedouin. Ignore the picture!)
Info about Bedouin can be found by clicking here: It's a tasty North African restaurant on Mill Road, Camridge. Their main meals cost around £10-£15, they have veggie options, and if you are on a budget you can share the Mezze Platter with a couple of friends for under a fiver each, it's very filling! Last time we went we all filled up on Mezze and then had to take our mains home in doggy bags.
Hope to see you there!
Indian fusion has been super popular in Tribal Fusion over the last couple of years - over stateside Moria Chappell and Nagasita have been dedicated Indian Dance students for a good long while, and other dancers like Zoe Jakes have also been falling in love with it.
I personally think Indian Fusion has such an attraction to us Tribal Fusion dancers because not only is it so beautiful and intricate and blingworthy, Classical Indian Dance forms such as Odessi, Kathak and Bharatnatyam are sacred dance forms, where every look, every gesture has meaning and sacred import. I think the Tribal Fusion community on the whole tend to be quite a spiritual hippyish lot, and this kind of thing presses all our buttons. Mmmm beautiful sacred dance.
So here is some indian fusion inspiration from the belly dance world.
1. Zoe Jakes' "Strength" in the House of Tarot show.
I saw this performed at it's debut in person in Las Vegas at the Tribal Massive, and it was awesome. She had all the other dancers drumming when they were not dancing, and it was gorgeous. She taught us the choreography as well during the week long intensive, and it was one of my favourite classes ever. I am literally smack bang in the front row of the audience in this vid. Cool Indian stuff starts at 3.42.
2. Colleena Shakti
Colleena Shakti IS Indian Belly Dance Fusion. She's this swan-like graceful creature who lives in Rajahastan and runs her own classical Indian dance school. She does Indian belly dance fusion for kicks and is renowned the world over for being super awesome at it. Her hands and arms are just sublime. She's got a couple of cool workshops for Indian Fusion Belly Dance on
3. Jaydee Amrita
Our very own Jaydee Amrita from Devon UK is hitting the international scene at the moment with her inspired and bold Indian fusion dance pieces. She's currently out in India training in Odessi dance, and runs an Indian Fusion Belly Dance festival in the summer in Devon called Kamatala. Here is her infamous performance at Tribal Fest from a couple of years back.
SUPER EXCITING NEWS!
This December 5th, Jaydee Amrita will be coming to Cambridge to teach her signature Indian Infusion style! There will be a fabulous Hafla Spectacular in the evening too, with live bands, performances, stalls, mini workshops....
If you want to get in on that action, click here to visit the Events Page and check it out!
A couple of months ago I did took part in a four day workshop with Rachel Brice and Ashley Lopez. It was my first time training with Rachel, ever.
In the last few months I have seen a whole bunch of my friends give up belly dancing, if not for good, at least for a good long while. And some of these guys are top international performers. And it's both sad for them and good for them, and it's interesting for me because I know exactly where they are coming from sometimes.
Truth is, being dedicated to belly dance is tough, it can be very lonely, it can be very boring, it can feel hopeless and pointless sometimes, and over the last two years I have thought about giving up often. I have gone through periods when I have just totally lost my enjoyment of it, when I don't see the point, and where watching any belly dance performance just leaves me feeling meh. I've had large chunks of time where I don't feel like I am enough, that I should love it more, be more obsessed by YouTube, stop being the world's most jaded bellydancer, I should train more, I should find training fun, I should do it this way, I should do it that way, and on and on and on. If I did all of these things, then I would deserve to be a good dancer.
So I have been struggling with me and belly dance for a good long while. I managed to get a place on this Rachel Brice intensive and spent the whole year thinking about selling it on so I could, I dunno, use the money to go scuba diving or buy socks instead, but I did go in the end.
Rachel discovered in the end that she was making it hard for herself, and she had an idea of how she should be as a dancer and what she should be doing. She was following the ideas of what she should be and what other people were up to as a guide of how she should be a belly dancer. Slowly, she came out of her big ol' belly dance slump by just doing the things she liked and only the things she was interested in. And now she loves it again - she's like this tiny little midget of belly dance love at the moment. I can't even begin to tell you how long she got us doing arabics for cos she likes them just right. And she says that now she's out the other side, dance feels better than ever.
So this, this is what I really took away from my week with Rachel. That sometimes, even the biggest and brightest just stop feeling it and want to give up too. Sometimes they feel hopeless and bored too. (I re-remembered talking to Mardi Love a few years back, and she was all "Yeah, I might give up belly dancing in a few months and do something else." Not just Rachel!) Being all conflicted, having other interests, being bored, not being as super obsessive as you were when it was all new and shiny, it doesn't mean that you are a bad dancer and don't deserve to be a good one or anything. It's just how art and creation goes sometimes. It's just the process.
(Infusion Emporium Theatre show photo! I'm in the middle left - they told us to pull a crazy face, so naturally, Sammy Valentine and Catherine Taylor and myself all pulled very serious expressions.)
At the Serpentine School our main dance style is Tribal Fusion. Tribal Fusion is a western development of a middle eastern dance, but where did it spring from really? Today we are going on a journey through space and time, and through the medium of many scratchy old school VHS tapes, to discover where Tribal Fusion came from.
First we will start by digging deep into the middle of the last century. In California, a woman called Jamilla Salimpour was in love with belly dance. She learnt to belly dance by watching and learning from other dancers and from old movies featuring celebrated egyptian dancers. She was a massive badass, running away to join the circus at 15, learning belly dance, and after a while of dancing professionally in nightclubs around the bay area she opened her own nightclub in the Bay Area in the 50's.
tribalish, but it was a fantasy costume - inspired by a whole bunch of cultures and dancers to look authentic to western audiences. At these Bal Anat shows Jamilla upped the theatrics to delight her audiences, getting her dancers to perform with swords and snakes, which was totally new to the world of belly dance.
Jamilla's belly dance was earthy and rootsy, with lots of finger cymbals and low hipwork. This was belly dance inspired by the films and the dancers of the 40's and 50's, without the later balletic influence upon middle eastern dance. This is important, as Tribal Fusion has retained some of it's earthy rooted Jamilla legacy and is part of the reason why many peeps are drawn to study the earthy and ethereal form of Tribal Fusion rather than the less earthy, flowing lines and princessy arabesques of modern middle eastern belly dance.
American Tribal Style is inspired by middle eastern and Indian folkloric dances. It's a group improvised format, where one person is a leader and everyone else are the followers, and the leader swaps around often everyone has a chance to be a leader and a follower. The format has a strong Indian and I feel flamenco flair to it in the arms and posturing, which marks it clearly from modern middle eastern belly dance. It's called tribal because you have to dance it as a group - as a tribe. Carolena created an dance company and called it Fat Chance Dance Company, and they have been going strong for decades.
Both these dance companies were taking the roots of Jamilla's and Carolena's dance formats and adding their own creativity and imagination to create something that they found new and beautiful.
From these awesome dance companies, passionate dancers appeared who would further the creation of the Tribal Fusion dance movement - Mardi Love from Urban Tribal, Rachel Brice and Sharon Kihara from Ultra Gypsy, Ariellah Aflalo, the Lady Frederique and a host of other dancers who brought in inspirations from other world dance forms.
Tribal Fusion till around the mid 2000's had been a very Californian, San Fransisco based thing - most of the dancers were based in the Bay Area and there wasn't a huge amount of Tribal Fusion outside California, let alone outside America. However, the Bellydance Superstars worldwide touring dance company brought Tribal Fusion to a global audience, and people all over the world went freaking crazy for Rachel Brice's snakey arms, incredible backbends and the darker, more tattoed aesthetic of the tribal dancers.
Tribal Fusion dancers have been deeply influenced by the training system of Suhaila Salimpour, who is a hardcore clean badass technique chaser, and by music. Tribal Fusion has allowed a more western vibe in the music it dances to, working with and combining middle eastern, world music and electronica in the quest to create beauty. This allows for influences from the music genres to come in and play, eg. popping and hip hop and kathak, and has created (and still is creating) a rapidly evolving, imaginative, expressive, inclusive and beautiful form of dance art.
Over the last ten years Tribal Fusion has exploded in popluarity, and dancers have dived deep into their creativity to fuse belly dance with stronger flavours of hip hop, flamenco, folk dance, indian dance and theatricality to create an ever evolving and mind blowingly diverse art form drawing it's influences from both the east and the west.
For my lovely students! Here is the level 2 choreography to practice with.
Our trusty mermaid hairdresser Mairead Kelly was on hand to attend to crimping my mass of hair, help direct the photography (and as a student of mine, part of me suspects she was having a great time putting me in awkward poses on purpose as revenge for all that plank and squats we do in Level 3!) and take pics for Twitter and Instagram: You can follow her (she loves posting about all the mermaid shenanigans we get up to) here.
I'm introducing a brand new class to the Serpentine School, so if you are wondering if it's the right one for you, here is everything you need to know about Level 2!
What is a Level 2 Class?
A Level 2 belly dance class is the love child of a belly dance party and a belly dance bootcamp!
We start with a warm up designed to up your stamina and get your body dancer toned and strong, then we start dancing! We’ll then crank up the music and have an amazing time upping our dance skills by drilling movements, adding challenging layers and travelling steps to anyone who wants to be pushed, and then learn short fun combos of moves and practice them tons too. We end with a relaxing cool down.
It’s a bit hardcore, but you like it that way, right?
Every week has a theme that we work with (for example, shimmies, arms, body waves etc) and it usually corresponds to the topics in beginner’s class – so if you have been doing Beginner class a while and would like to do both classes, it would work perfectly for you!
Who is a Level 2 class for?
Level 2 is for belly dancers who have graduated from beginner’s class (usually I recommend staying in beginner’s class for two terms before moving up) or for dancers who want a full on practice session to challenge them, get them stronger and have lots of fun!
I myself am a tribal fusion dancer, so I take the stuff I cover in this class and apply it to my art in a tribal fusion way, but this class is also absolutely brilliant for middle-eastern style dancers wanting to improve their layering, travelling moves, stamina, technique and precision.
What will Level 2 do for me?
· Drastically improve your technique and your mastery of belly dance
· Improve your fitness levels hugely!
· Get you more flexible
· Give you a fun weekly belly dance practice
· Get you travelling with your dance movements
· Teach you how to layer movements on top of each other
... in other words, make you a belly dance ninja!
About my inspiration for this class
I’ve really wanted to run a drill class for a while – I love drilling, it’s so much fun and it’s really the thing that pushes your dancing to higher levels and gets you that dancer body. My students have kind of had to go straight from beginner classes to Level 3 classes, which are seriously tough and complex! They've done really well and taken to it like ninjas (because they are determined and awesome), but I wanted to make it a little easier for you guys to learn without being overwhelmed by all the complicated stuff we do in Level 3.
This isn't your regular belly dance fitness class – I don’t do soft core, and we will be learning strong technique. You will have the best time and feel so GOOD seeing how quickly you progress and feeling your body getting stronger and leaner.
When is it?
Level 2 runs on Thursdays at 8:30pm at the Centre @ St Pauls, Hills Road.
It’s in a converted church, so don't be surprised if you turn up and get confused cos it looks like Jesus lives there. We're in there rockin' out upstairs.
COME AND TRY A TASTER SESSION for £5.50 and see how much you like it.
Plus, you can save £25 if you wanna take the Level 1 and the Level 2 course together.
I've been slowly crafting a post about the Tribal Massive the last few weeks, but it's not finding completion somehow. I've been trying to process it and what went on there, and I wanted to tell you as honestly as possible my experience.
The Tribal Massive is a boutique, high-level belly dance training intensive - 49 hours with the best of the best, (Zoe Jakes, Kami Liddle, Sharon, Mira...!!!) every day, for 8 days, plus a show featuring the top dancers in the whole world. It's run by lovely, lovely people and attended by amazing friendly dancers the world over.
I loved the Massive - I loved the training, I loved dancing all day every day, and we learnt so, so, so much. It was so worthwhile, though I didn't tear up much (like I did at Suhaila last year and when I met dolphins in Vegas, when I was crying all over the shop and was so glad I had my celebrity sunglasses on).
Coming back from the Massive was a little weird - you go from this environment surrounded by dedicated dancers and non stop dancing back into my little office, trying desperately to catch up all the stuff you couldn't finish before you left and push work through. It's back to normal life - my Facebook addiction returned (For shame!), and everything felt frustratingly normal again.
I think I kind of expected to go to the Massive and for my heart to be so utterly broken open by all the dance stuff and be so so so much in love with it and for my well to be totally full and to come back and magically be some kind stamina ninja and be waking up early to fit in four hours of practice a day.
Yeah, that's not what happened.
I've been trying to process my experience, as it was brilliant, but it didn't affect me in the way I thought it would. I wasn't weeing myself with excitement every class - I really enjoyed EVERY CLASS (maybe except the one at the end where I had no brain left) but it's not like every class was like, say, meeting a dolphin. (Which is the best thing. Ever.)
So I came home a little disappointed in myself. Why didn't I feel it deeper? What's wrong with me? Maybe I don't deserve to be a dancer at that level.
But I have been thinking and planning and re-branding like a machine since I came back from Vegas, and this morning doing my daily journalling I realised something.
I feel like before the Massive I was in some kind of limbo waiting for permission to become the dancer I wanted to be and to work on the projects and dreams I wanted to work on.
Now I feel like I don't need permission and I can just get on with it, cos there is so much stuff to be done!
Seeing Zoe's House of Tarot show at the Massive Spectacular (which was in-freaking-credible) and hearing the stories of how these incredible ninja dancers got to where they are today really inspired me. I saw so much stuff that I loved and wanted to be a part of, saw things I wanted to create back here in the UK, met so many beautiful inspiring people that I thought, why am I always telling myself no to doing this stuff? Why am I endlessly waiting for the "right time" to do the stuff I am dreaming of when I could just be doing it?
So there we go, that is the big impact from the Tribal Massive for me. Nor more waiting - it's time to make stuff happen.