Thursday, 26 May 2011

Video of the Week - Sabine & Tribalation!

I have to confess I'm rather excited about this week's two videos, and there's a bit of a story behind them. I had decided it was time for watching a bit of sword work, and had chosen a video from Sabine of Oregon, who does some fabulous stuff including double sword (I can just see Jo on the edge of her seat with excitement now - yes, video coming up Jo!). I then e mailed Sabine about photos for the post (How organised am I now? Planning blogs in advance!) and in her lovely response she mentioned another video from the same event; a video of her troupe. So off I went to check it out and Oooooh! Ooooooh! I shall keep you all in suspense for a little longer as to just what it is about that second video that has me so chirpy. First we'll look at Sabine's wonderful solo work.

"Sabine is a dance artist who has studied Middle Eastern dance since 1988 and has been performing tribal style belly dance since 1999 ...... (she) is a master of 'raqs al sayf', the sword dance, where the grace and flow of the dance movements are contrasted by the dangerous sharpness of the huge Turkish Scimitars that she balances. Sabine has taught her own special brand of  'Dangerous Sword Dancing' in workshops and festivals all over the Northwest. Sabine brings a strong and unique presence to the stage.

Her dancing has been called 'powerful', 'mesmerising' and 'beautiful'."

From Sabine's website.

And here she is, together with not one but two swords:

It is always a treat to see someone dance with such fluidity and grace - but to then see them maintain that whilst dancing 'as one' with their sword(s) is awesome. And what amazing isolations; those scimitars are not even wavering on Sabine's head! All of these, together with the elegant strength and power with which she wields the weapons illustrates perfectly why her sword workshops and intensives are nigh on legendary (Hey, we've heard all about them and we're several thousand miles away in sunny Lancashire!).

However, sword work is not Sabine's only talent. Together with her troupe, Tribalation!, she also dances improvisational tribal style dance.

"Fast and exciting, slow and mesmerising; Tribal Bellydance combines powerful movements from Middle Eastern and flamenco dance with ornate costumes and jewellery from many cultures to produce an unforgettable dance experience.

Tribalation! dance troupe first hit the scene in Eugene in 2003. Today dancers Sabine, Portia and Melissa share their love, friendship and infectious dance energy through their improvisational performances ..."

From Tribalation website

So here these lovely ladies are in action at last year's Totally Tribal event. Beautiful dancing of course - but can anyone who knows us guess why both of us love this video so very much?

Oooh! Oooh! Having watched this several times this week it inspired us in our practice tonight - inspired us to get in some more ZILLING!

Now those of you who have been following this blog for a few months may recall the Don't Be Zilly post back in March. The one where we pleaded the case for zils being used as a musical instrument to complement the music, rather than a triplets tool to beat it into submission? Good zilling causes lots of Sakura excitement - and here in this video there is more than a measure of good zilling!
A variety of rhythms including more complex ones, zils used to highlight and accent appropriate parts of the music - these girls really know how to use these instruments not just to support their dancing, but to bring the dance and the music together as a seamless whole. And we're loving it!

Thank you ladies!

If you want to find out more about Sabine and Tribalation! including information about sword intensives then check out their website here. It's also well worth looking them up on You Tube.

Right, it's back to the zilling practice again for me!

Have a good week everyone - and happy dancing!

Thanks to Sabine and Tribalation! for use of the images in this post


  1. I nearly fell off my seat ;-) Loved the double sword- especially the Berber walk with the 2nd sword circling.

    However I really enjoyed the second video too. I loved the blend of different formats and the variations on moves such as the Resham-ka. The zilling was fab too.

    I was trying to work out how you would vary the zill rhythms when improvising so that the changes were seamless and also fitting the music. The only way I could see would be that the zilling is prearranged to fit the music and only the dancing is improvised.

  2. Hi all! Fun to see this article, thanks for choosing my troupe as your feature!
    In answer to your question (Tribalgeek) about how the zils are coordinated: we have zill patterns that we associate with certain movements, so if we do that move, we can add that patern, if the song is the right tempo. That way you get improvistational movements and zills--no matter what tune is playing. Actually, we only do the "patterend zilling" for cetrtain tempos--sometimes if it's a very fast song, we do just play 3's or an occasional accent, and if it's a really strong Beladi we play beladi/beladi 5 alternating; other songs call for fellahin or 6's, too. But if we say "this is a good tempo for patterns!" then it's all improvisational. It adds a fun dimension, and we can even dance a capella.
    Blessings on you dancers this day~~

  3. Thanks Sabine, that's really helpful and makes a lot of sense. Like Cayte I'm inspired to try out some different zill patterns when dancing. After a lot of practice that is :-)

  4. I was fortunate enough to see both of these performances in person and of course they were even better live. (Hi Sabine!) We are also working on varied zilling in our troupe, Amazon Heart (WA), and are following the model of fellow Pacific Northwesterners, Gypsy Fire of Bend, Oregon. Their zill rubric attaches patterns to particular movement *families* (as opposed to a different rhythm for each move) based on the number of counts the moves take, so for example hip bumps and shimmies are triples, Arabics are 7s, Egyptians are beledi, and of course there are a few variations for flourishes and spins. I had been trying to figure out forever what was the best way to accomplish the goal of varying patterns improvisationally as I, like you, cringe whenever I hear a tribal troupe play one pattern over and over (and over and over) throughout an entire song, and yet, I love zills and don't want to just leave them out entirely. When Quinn (Director of Gypsy Fire) explained this to me it was an absolute revelation. Check them out on their latest Tribal Fest video

  5. Thank you Renee and Sabine - that's really really helpful! We're doubly inspired to try it out! And thank you for the video recommendation Renee. I'm off to check it out right now ...
    Cayte x