Touch the Merchandise!
We want you to explore the store. Jewelry, the cds, dvds, costumes on the racks, scarves, books , cosmetics and accessories on the shelves are very much for sale. Feel free to play with the jewelry, try on the costume pieces and ask questions if you need assistance. You are welcome to come to class 1/2 hour early to shop!
Frequently Asked Questions about American Tribal Style
What is Tribal Style?
Tribal Style Bellydance is both a celebration of the female spirit and a physical display of the strength and beauty of women. It's roots can be traced back to the rituals of past matriarchal cultures and to the secular entertainments evolved as the gypsies traveled through India, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Spain.
There are many styles of bellydance. The most authentic styles are cabaret and folkloric. Other styles have evolved as the dance migrated from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe and the US and back again. Skin Deep performs what is referred to as American Tribal Style Bellydance.
What distinguishes Tribal from other styles of bellydance is the way in which steps, movements, gestures, even costume, are redesigned to suit the common denominator of a group dancing together. The music is selected for it's clarity, the steps for their universal application and yet, whether performed as choreography or improvisation the result is one of simple elegance and rhythmic style.
What is FatChanceBellyDance?
Read the history of FCBD and see research on American Tribal Style and FCBD on their history page.
What are the different class levels? What level am I? When can I move up?
Class levels are:
Dance Fundamentals (Phase 1)
Tribal Combinations (Phase 2)
Creative Expressions (Phase 3)
So, now we offer you this:
Dance Fundamentals (Phase 1) is a basic class. It is the best place for a new student to start. It can also function as review for a more experienced student. This class will always feature the Fundamentals of one slow movement and one fast rhythmic step. Also included are stretches, posture, awareness of body mechanics, music and history as appropriate, and simple zils (finger cymbals).
Next is Tribal Combinations (Level Two). This class takes you through one slow and one fast combination. You will follow the teacher through a drill, review it for technique and application, then dance it on your own. It is best used after several Fundamentals classes, or at least concurrently as there are no breakdowns of basic steps. But, the adventurous beginner or visiting dancer can take this class as the focus is individual technique. We introduce partnering and improv as time allows.
After you're comfortable with Fundamentals and Combinations, ask a teacher about joining Drills and Improv Choreography (Level Three.) Drills covers technique of the Intermediate and Advanced Steps used in Improv Choreography. Here is where you will learn to put the information from Level One and Level Two into practice as you pair up to dance with a partner or work as part of a trio or quartet. For these classes to be beneficial to all involved, you really must have experience in Fundamentals (Level One) and Combinations (Level Two.)
If you are visiting from out-of-town or feel you have a special need, please call and speak to Katrina BEFORE attending the class. We don't have time to negotiate special requests in the few minutes preceeding a class.
What should I wear?
For your first classes you should wear something comfortable until you decide that you want to continue with lessons. When you are ready for costuming, we recommend a full skirt worn at the hips, a shawl or scarf tied around the hips, pantaloons or tights, and a choli top.
How long will it take for me to learn?
There is no real answer to this question because everyone learns at a different pace. However, if you attend classes consistently every week, pay attention and practice at home you will have a good understanding of what's going on within a few months.
Where do I get music to practice with? Videos? Books? Finger Cymbals (Zils)? Etc?
We have almost everything you need for Tribal Style Bellydance. The store is open whenever class is in session or you can make an appointment to come in. Regular items like videos and music are always in stock. Special items like jewelry and costume ebb and flow so make sure to ask if you need something that you don't see stocked.
What is Tribal Style Belly Dance? (Extended Description)
American Tribal Style Belly Dance (ATS) is a modern style of dance created by FatChanceBellyDance director, Carolena Nericcio.
In 1974 Carolena began belly dancing with Masha Archer and the San Francisco Dance Troupe. Masha’s style was an eclectic blend of classic Egyptian Cabaret, Folkloric and any other influence that she found enticing. Being a trained painter and sculptor, Masha taught her dancers to create art through dance. In 1987, after the SF Classic Dance Troupe had disbanded, Carolena began teaching in a small studio in the Noe Valley Ministry with no goal in mind but to teach people to dance so she could have dance partners.
Being young and tattooed, Carolena’s classes became popular with other young people who were living an alternative lifestyle. The Modern Primitives movement was also underway and tattoos and primitive styles of body adornment were the vogue. Carolena and her students performed at tattoo show and conventions and became quite well-know in the City by the Bay.
When the need for a name for the dance troupe arose, a friend suggested the playful rhyme: FatChanceBellyDance, based on the silly response dancers often get from onlookers who think that the beautiful, feminine belly dance is merely an exotic entertainment for their personal pleasure. In other words “Fat chance you can have a private show.”
As Carolena and FatChanceBellyDance expanded their horizons at belly dance festivals, they received a mixed response; some people loved the new style, others abhorred it’s departure from strict tradition. Finally, the style was given a name “American Tribal Style Belly Dance” which seemed to calm the fears that ATS would be considered in the same league as the classical styles. The word “American” made it clear that it was not a traditional version, “Tribal Style” described that the dancers were working as a group with a “tribal” look.
Back at the studio, a system was evolving. Because of the casual nature of FCBD’s performance opportunities, the dance was largely improvisational. There simply wasn’t a way, or a need to choreograph because things changed at the last minute and the dancers often had to perform without a rehearsal or any information about stage or performance space. Steps were refined and created as Carolena observed how the dancers worked together. She found that since the steps all started with the gesture on the right side, the dancers tended to angle to the left so that the hips would be displayed to the audience. This in turn allowed the lead dancer to be clearly seen by the follow dancers if they took a step back and to the right. Duets, trios and quartets could work in set formations; after the center of the space was established, dancers could set up with the lead dancer ahead left and the follow dancers(s) behind, right. If the stage was two-sided or the audience was in the round, the dancers could flip the lead by facing the opposite direction. In other words, as long as the dancers stayed in formation, the group could face any direction and the lead would change depending on where the audience was situated. Cues were developed for each step or combination, usually an arm or head movement that could be easily seen.
These features, the cues and formations are the brilliance of ATS. Often unnoticed because of the elaborate costumes, fancy steps, excited music and the sheer beauty of women dancing together, the formations and cues are the anchor of improvisational choreography. Even when formal choreography is
needed, it is created around the logic of the improv formations and cues.
The core concept remains in place, lead on the left, followers to the right. Watch also, for the interaction between the dancers. They always have their attention trained to the lead position, looking for cues as to which step will come next. When the dancers are facing each other and have eye contact the lead is neutral, falling to the dancer that makes the next move.
But don’t think too hard! Allow yourself to see the whole picture: women working together in cooperation; a group focused on presenting the dance as one entity.