Friday, 22 July 2011

Video of the Week - WildCard Bellydance!

We've been avid followers of these ladies for quite a few years now, for lots of reasons! Their beautiful dancing is top of the list of course - but we're also addicted to their gorgeous costuming and the happiness that radiates from them when they perform together. They seriously need to get themselves over here to the UK; we'll be first in the queue for their workshops!

They describe themselves as :

A professional troupe of Tribal Style belly dancers based in Sonoma County California. Rooted in American Tribal Style (ATS) belly dance, our style is a modern fusion of traditional dances from cultures along the Silk Road; the Romani trail from from Spain through North Africa, the Middle East, Persia, India and beyond.

American Tribal Style belly dance is a format based upon synchronized group improvisation. WildCard BellyDance has developed a unique repertoire of movements along with visual and verbal cues to execute complete synchronicity within the group. Each and every performance is unique and ever changing; it is "art created in the moment".

WildCard website

The  fabulous Troupe Director, Seba, has been talking to us about how the troupe's style has evolved from their early BlackSheep roots and from their videos it is fascinating to see how they have revisited traditional ATS and have then built upon it to develop their own distinctive and very beautiful style. It is often a hard job to select videos and images for this blog, but trust us - this time it's been REALLY tough! There are so many breathtaking performances and gorgeous photos of these girls - mostly courtesy of Seba's talented husband, Dan - and we really have been spoilt for choice! So we've decided to give you a few taster videos, and to then point you in the direction of lots more so you can browse to your hearts content if you haven't already discovered these ladies (and if so, where HAVE you been for the past few years?!!)

Our first videos are promo videos showing a few performances from 20010/11 and 2009/10 :

So, do you see what we mean now? Simply amazing! Their technique is fantastic and they dance with spot-on synchronicity - they are so together!  (What fabulous spins in that first video!) When they are performing to slow music there is such as sense of serenity and peaceful happiness, and when they go into their fast pieces the joy in dancing just exudes from them. And oh, those skirts! Wonderful work, ladies!

However we can't move on without a mention of the superb video editing - we are just mesmerised by the bit in the second video at 3:04 where the video moves perfectly from swordy spins in one perfotrmance into swordy spins in another. We just HAD to include the video here so you could see it for yourselves.  Have another look and see what we mean! Wow!

Our next video shows a full performance set from four of the WildCard girls. It's taken from a show at the Russian River Brewing Co. earlier this year:

There were just so many videos to choose from here! We went for this one because we love the feeling of intimacy about it - the entrance through the middle of the audience, the smaller stage area, the proximity of the dancers to the audience. It's just the sort of venue where we love to dance (such fond memories of the Bodega Bar in Glasgow!!) and we love the way we can see every move and expression close up. The ladies dance beautifully as both duets (and as you know Sakura are a duet so that's something we always love to see) and as a quartet. That second piece of music (Beni Beni by Niyaz) is breathtaking and will have to go on the list of potential music for future Sakura performances! There is some beautiful, strong and fluid swordwork there too. We just love the 'feel' of the whole performance!

However, WildCard don't just perform - they also teach tribal bellydance:

"WildCard BellyDance teaches Tribal Style (aka. ATS) belly dance lessons and workshops for belly dancers of all levels and abilities from the beginner to advanced in Sonoma County, California and beyond.

The women of our troupe have been dancing and teaching together since 2005. In 2009 we created a new ITS (Improv. Tribal Style) belly dance format which has been fully incorporated into our weekly belly dance classes."

WildCard BellyDance website

And good news! Those of us who live many miles from California can also get in on the act! Seba has recently put up a series of short  instructional videos, shot by her husband, Dan, on You Tube. Here's one just to whet your appetites; here Seba is teaching the Turkish right from basics:

Seba really does break things down so thoroughly - the counts, arm positions, how to place feet for turns, how to layer on that shimmy. And this is characteristic of all her videos! She makes everything so clear and easy to follow - even if you think you know the move already there's still lots to pick up on and learn. Do have a look at her other instructionals - they're all excellent. We're waiting for a dvd from you Seba!

It has to be said that we've really only touched the tip of the iceberg as far as WildCard are concerned. There's so much more out there for you to discover and enjoy! Find out more at the following places :

WildCard website - information and lots of photos : here
WildCard YouTube channel - videos (performance and instructional) : here
WildCard Facebook page : here

Thank you ladies for sharing your amazing dancing with us!

Well, that's it for this time! Next week's video will be a little early as we're away on tribal training in Bournemouth  for the weekend - so are planning ahead!

Until then, happy dancing!

Thanks to WildCard Bellydance & Dan for use of the images in this post

Friday, 15 July 2011

Video of the Week - Qu Tu!

"It's a bit like ATS ..... but on Acid!"

What on earth are they warbling on about now, many of you will be asking - whilst those of you in the know will be nodding sagely! We are of course talking about BTS or British Tribal Style, the brainchild of the darkly delicious Pauline Qu who is based in the Midlands, right here in the UK!

We reckon it's best to let her describe this style in her own words :
"British Tribal Style is based on and heavily influenced by American Tribal Style, in particular the Fat Chance Belly Dance format as created by Carolena Nericcio

However, the further down the line that BTS travels, the further away it gets from ATS, and now it has its own vocabulary of moves, combos, cues, transitions and formations. It is still totally improvised and never ever forgets its debt to ATS and Fat Chance."

Pauline describes her style as improvised, dynamic and organic. It;s also fast, furious (some of the time - it does have its slow, juicy moments too!) and FUN! And we can say this with great authority because we've been travelling to distant lands (well, Derbyshire, York and Nottingham!) to take workshops with Pauline for a few years now!).

There are a number of BTS tribes inspired and mentored by Pauline, but for our video this week we'd like to focus upon Qu Tu, a group of dancers and drummers (including Pauline's fabulous drumming husband, Asif) who perform at events all over the country (they danced and played at Planet Egypt in London at the end of June). This video shows them at Sahara nights last October. Over to you, Qu Tu!!!

Qu Tu are Pauline, Barbara and Jo - and yes, it IS the same Jo that we keep mentioning on here (she's the one with pigtails, at the left as the video starts. This video shows the girls dancing to recorded music but then moving on to dancing to live drumming which is an important aspect of BTS - Pauline and Asif have worked hard to develop a system of cues and communication between drummers and dancers that results in the close interaction between them that you can see here! We especially like the cheeky little zilly-teasy bit where the girls get right up to those drummers! 

This video also captures the BTS spirit perfectly for us - the energy and sheer enjoyment shines out from that dance floor! You can see those ATS roots in there, but can see how Pauline has adapted and developed this to create her own very unique and distinctive style. And how fast does she turn? She's like the Road Runner of tribal - now you see her, now you don't!

It's always great to highlight videos of dancing friends near and far, whether they're friends in person or whether we know them via t'internet. But it's especially exciting to feature friends that we've danced with in classes, workshops and performances, partied with, hung out with at festivals, drummed with, stitch 'n' bitched with ...... So thank you girls (and boys!) - you're fabulous!

Now, Pauline and Asif are people of many talents - dancers, drummers, costumiers, henna artists, event organisers (Pink Bellydance festival, Close Encounters of the Tribal Kind, Tribal Sleepovers ..) ...... Look out for them and their work in future 'Spotlight On' posts here on Tribal Pilgrims. In the meantime you can find out lots more about them on the BTS website here.

We'll be back soon - in the meantime, happy dancing!

Thanks to Pauline Qu for the images in this post!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Spotlight on .... Headstrong Bindis!

Welcome to the first of a series of occasional posts - spotlights on some of those wonderful people who keep us all looking beautiful as we dance!

So, tribal sisters, you're looking fabulous in your beautiful costume. Your glorious hair garden is in place. You've piled on the tribal jewellery, your make-up is looking perfect. But still, there's something missing ... what could it be???? Ah yes, that sparkling shimmery, gorgeous bindi!!! And who do us UK dancers turn to in our hour of need (or even hour of just plain want!)? Yes, it's the amazingly creative Tracey of Headstrong Bindis!

Tracey has been adorning the heads of UK dancers and bindi afficionados for several years now - we bought our first sparklies from her when she sold via her website and and our Headstrong collections have slowly but steadily grown since then. She now sells worlsdwide and as soon as a new collection of photos goes up on her Facebook page there is a mad clicking frenzy as her fans scramble for first dibs (our poor friend Jan has NEVER been successful in getting there in time yet. Order a custom bindi, Jan!!!).

Tracey very kindly agreed to an interview with us so that we could dig deep and find out the answers to all those bindi questions we'd always wanted to ask. And here they are!

How did you first get into bellydance? Tell us a bit about your style and dance loves!! I’ve always loved to dance, having ballroom danced as a child, but never had the opportunity to do anything serious about it, until I moved to Cambridge. I saw a flyer for an Egyptian bellydance class and persuaded some friends to come along with me. It became a regular fixture for us, and even tho I enjoyed it, I always felt that it wasn’t quite hitting the spot for me, it was all a little bit too girly for my stompy-ass hippy self! I gave it up after a couple of years of trying to make it fit.
Skip forward about 10 years or so to 2007 and I got an urge to look into it again and see how things had progressed, so I Googled for classes in my area and discovered Nicola Kilbane of Bodhaia Tribal was holding ATS classes in the city. I didn’t know what ATS was then, but (goddess bless the internet), I Googled it again and was soon drawn into a wonderful, colourful, sensual, textile world of Fat Chance, Gypsy Caravan, Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, Black Sheep etc etc. I made a call to Nicola the very next day and went to my first Fat Chance based ATS class that Saturday.
It sounds so clich├ęd, but I really felt like I had found my home, it just “pinged” for me and the classes were fun, friendly, instructional and totally pushed me out of my comfort zone but in a supportive way. I learned a lot about myself and others and it helped me feel more confident which has leaked into the day to day areas of my life too.
My style is Fat Chance ATS. I cannot do fusion to save my life – however much I love it I’m just useless with choreographies. I’m currently loving Fat Chance slow moves, I’m really feeling the power of them right now. I have very recently started looking at Gypsy Caravan tribal as well, which has some very pretty moves and has a really earthy folksy look and relaxed feel to it which I find appealing. Skirt dancing is my next big love, I adore these great big full skirts and swishing them around making pretty shapes and moves, it’s almost like being a child again. It’s knackering on the ole arms, but it’s so much fun and even when I’m totally exhausted about to fall over, sweat pouring off me, there’s always a little voice inside me that says “c’mon, you’ve still got juice for one more, one more!”.

When did you make your first bindi? Was it a success? Ha ha ha – my first bindi – gosh that was a while ago. It was back in 2007, I’d been online window shopping and watching YouTube videos and seeing dancers with these fantastic costumes and realised that there wasn’t anywhere in the UK that sold big bindis with heaps of attitude which could be seen on stage or during performances. I only had access to the little self adhesive ones sold in the multipacks and they never stayed on me. After a couple of dances they would fly off and land somewhere (usually unmentionable) and stay there until I happened to look down and notice a sparkly cleavage!! I wanted something that would have an impact, look pretty and finish off the outfit properly (and which I would notice if it started to drift anywhere – ha ha). The very first one I made was a success, I guess, I mean, it worked, it looked pretty, and it stayed stuck, but looking back now it was quite basic as I didn’t really know what I was doing. But hey, no-one laughed at it, so I consider that a success

How did Headstrong Bindis develop from the early days? (I remember your bindis on and your website!) Hee hee – gosh – you certainly have been keeping a beady eye on me!! In the very early days I just made them out of bits and pieces I had at home and gifted them to friends and then to fellow students. People seemed to like them, which took me by surprise, and still does to this day, and interest grew purely by word of mouth or people just seeing them worn at events and performances. I got a lot of useful feedback from people who wore the early Headstrongs and I started to increase my stock levels and invested in more variations of crystals and developed the style and shapes that I liked to use which I thought would be most flattering. We did some experimenting with spirit gum initially (thanks Bodhaia), and again more recently (thanks Christine Tillett) to ensure that I had the most reliable product to hold the bindis in place. I constantly trawl lots of charity shops and antique yards and the like where I pick up pieces that I think would be pretty and usable (and that won’t fall apart during the washing process). A lot of the specialist silver/semi precious stone bindis I source base materials from the net, eBay and jewellery stores (I love online shopping!) I’m forever on the web or in a shop! When I set up a page on Facebook sales really took off and the members of the Headstrong page are over 700 now which is amazing. I love being able to have a two way communication using that medium and I now ship out all over the world which is awesome!!

Out of all the bindis you've ever made, does any one (or type) stick in your mind as your very favourite? Wow, urm I can’t say I have one particular favourite, although there are a few that I really enjoyed doing. There was Deana Lawman’s goddess themed bindi, Nicola Kilbane’s ” bent for a perfect fit” bindi, Denise Piggin’s gold bindi for her Puck dance at the Dolmen Grove benefit and Anita Marshall’s set of chakra bindis which just flowed really well. It makes it doubly rewarding when there is more meaning to the wearer behind making it, be it a Pagan theme, a Nordic theme, a Wiccan theme or a healing theme. But then sometimes I just like to make them look purdy.

Is there anyone who you'd totally LOVE to make a bindi for who you haven't already? Urm, no I don’t think so. I don’t have any aspirations to stick sparkly things on any one person’s head. If you likes em, you can buy em. That’s about as aspirational as I get. I’ve made a couple for Carolena Nericcio and I know Sharon Kihara has borrowed Jesse of Moraia’s Headstrong bling, but as far as I am concerned a forehead is a forehead and I just want to cover them ALL in sparkly things!

You do some gorgeous custom bindis! Have you ever had to turn a request down because it was - well, a bit dodgy? Are there any requests that you would just not fulfil? (Not that we have any dodgy requests in mind - we're just curious!)Ha ha ha – who’ve you been talking to – ha ha ha! I am not expanding into pe/vagazzling if that’s what you mean! Yes, that’s a request I would not fill, for sure. If that’s your thing, that’s totally fine, just, ask a qualified beautician to do it for you :o) I am currently in the process of making up some peep hole pasties which is amusing trying to get the right fit. It’s my first attempt at it, so am not 100% sure how it will work out, but I’ll give it a go. 

How many bindis do you own yourself? Do you ever have trouble parting with any you've made? (We would have great problems here ....)Hee hee – I totally get that! At night with the lamp on most of my surfaces glisten and sparkle and twinkle and I sometimes catch my vision drifting over to the glint! ;o) I actually own 6 myself , and yes, sometimes I do struggle with letting some bindis go, but I have to or I would end up with a HUGE box of sparkly things. And to be honest when it comes down to it, I’d rather see it on someone else than on myself. That’s far more rewarding.

Whenever your bindis go up on FB there is a mad scramble for them. What's the fastest time a bindi has ever sold in? Who do you reckon has the most Headstrong bindis in their possession?Yeah, bindis seem to go really fast at the moment, which totally amazes me every time. At haflas and such you can spot the bindi table as there’s usually a small crowd of bellydancers going through all the sparklies, we’re all such magpies. Ha ha. I love watching people going through them and trying them up against their faces to see if they suit or look how they want them to. The fastest time a bindi has sold in, and it’s happened a few times recently, is from when I actually hit the publish button after adding the photos, to the screen refreshing and some bindis have already sold. It’s astonishingly fast! Who has the most, without doubt that would have to be Rachel Gingerfunkypunkfairy Kingston who has so many I have lost count, I am guessing it’s probably in the 30-40s. After her it’s a close call between Deana Lawman, Denise Piggin and Nicola Kilbane, although several people are catching up to them...

Have you noticed any trends in the time you've been selling bindis? Have bindi fashions changed? Yes, some things do seem to be popular and then things move on. There was a big demand for the sugar skull and skullycrossbones bindis recently. I was doing a loooooooot of those! There has also been a lot of interest in vintage art deco or pearly bindis due to Rachel Brice, Mardi Love etc wearing the vintage look. I’ve noticed that sometimes there is a push for bigger more in your face bindis and then demand will move more towards smaller, more delicate bindis. Accents were fairly popular about 8-12 months ago, but don’t seem to be so much now (or it could be that I haven’t made any for ages – oops). Whilst Carolena was in the UK this year there was a big trend towards the more traditional Indian style simple red bindi, I did a lot of those this year too.

Do you have any secret tips for bindi wearers? Urm, there’s the trick with spirit gum if you’re pushed for time. After applying the gum to the back of the bindi, tap the gum half a dozen times with your finger until you feel the consistency start to get tacky and then apply it to your forehead (or wherever else you want to stick it!) Urm, if you use a makeup sealant spray whilst you are wearing your bindi you can gently wash the bindi with some diluted soapy water and a cotton bud to get rid of the build up. Apart from that I think it’s just a case of stick it on yer ‘ead and boogie.

You've done all sorts of bindis, accents - and do I remember chindis at one point or have I made that up? Do you have any plans for anything else in the pipeline?Ha ha, nope – you remember correctly, although they didn’t work out so well. That part of your face is just way too active really. I also did some navel bindis as well, but without a really good mastix there’s a high chance of losing those as you dance, sit, stand etc. I don’t have any plans for anything else, but am always open to ideas. People quite often ask me if I could do something for the d├ęcolletage or nasal bindi dots or over eyebrow stuff.

How do you feel when you see dancers wearing your bindis? And is there anything else you'd like to say that we've not asked you about?
Wow, the biggie. I feel really humble to see people wearing sparklies that I have made. I find it incredible to see so many beautiful dancers in gorgeous outfits and a little (or a great big muthahunking) Headstrong to top it off. It makes me so happy when people send pics for the Rogues Gallery so I can see everyone enjoying themselves looking gorgeous, it’s just so rewarding and motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing.

So there you have it folks - straight from the mouth of the SparkleFairy herself! We have to say it was SOOO difficult choosing photos to include here ... so many twinkly beauties! There was lots of oooohing and aaaaahing and 'I NEVER saw that one!' going on! Thank you so much for all your hard work Tracey, and for appearing on our blog!

Until next time everyone, happy dancing!

Thank you to Tracey Wood for use of the images in this post

Photos of Tracey by Nicola Kilbane of Intuition Art. Check out more of her beautiful work and photos on Facebook here and on her website.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Propapalooza UK - Yip!

If you've been reading this blog for a couple of months - or if you've been digging back into the archives - you'll know that we are mega-fans of  Tammy and Mary's Yip! bellydance podcasts. If you don't know about them already look at our past Yip! post here because we've got far too much to talk about today to be repeating ourselves! But basically Yip! is pretty awesome and we love it!

With all that in mind, you can imagine the excitement here in our little corner of England when we heard that the Yip! girls were planning to celebrate their second anniversary of podcasting with a Yip! Propapalooza party weekend - a hafla, prop workshops, raffles, auctions - squeal! However, our leaping for joy came to a pretty quick end when reality sunk in ... a) No matter whose car we all piled into we wouldn't be able to make it to Orlando and back in  a weekend and b) Even if we drove very VERY fast the large puddle in between the UK and Florida might cause us a few issues. Soggy 25 yard skirts for example.

So we sulked.

Until .... our lovely friend Jo - who you've heard about before on here - came up with a wonderful plan! We would have our very own Yip! party, right here in Manchester, England! Jo masterminded a great day of celebrations, hosted at her place with a select number of Yip! devotees ..... and so Propapalooza UK  was born. There were of course time-difference issues; whilst we'd love to have had our celebration at exactly the same time as the Yip! hafla it would have meant we'd have had to start at 2300 GMT, and some of us are way too old for that. So we started early - any excuse to get a party going! We had a totally fantastic day - and this is how it went:

Our party kicked off early in the afternoon, once we all (Cayte, Sarah and our beautiful friend Jan) arrived at Jo's place and had said hello to the cats (and to Jo of course)! I'd like to make us sound cool, calm and mysterious by saying it started sedately but sadly we don't do sedate. The grown up image you see in this photo is all a front for manic giggles of excitement ..... which rapidly descended into demented cackles and general raucousness!!!!

Jo decided that before we could go shopping we all needed to calm down - and so food was in order! And wow, what food! Jo was the perfect hostess and had produced a real Moroccan feast - tagine, homebaked bread, BEAUTIFUL carrots (I can't remember what you'd done to them Jo but you made me actually like carrots which is truly something! They were gorgeous - Cayte x), dates and oranges in cinnamon, hummus, yoghurt dip, something fabulous with butternut squash, olives .... and it was all incredible!!!

But it didn't end there --- there were more delights to come! Delicious vegan chocolate cake from Jan, Sarah's legendary peach and amaretto muffins, strawberries, raspberries, cream. (I am reliving it as I write. I need ALL the recipes NOW girls. I think you all need to go into a catering business together - I am putting myself top of the list to be your official taster. Cayte x) There was even mint tea out of a proper refined tea pot!!! (What English party would be complete without a tea pot?)

We can't go on without mentioning our two VERY Special Party Guests - the beautifully cute Gretel and Pickle! Pickle was extremely interested in the food - not that you'd know it from this photo where she's pretending to be all languid and innocent! They are lovely cats - and are so petite and dainty!!!!

Poor old Gretel on the other hand wasn't having a good day. After an op this week she's stuck in a satellite dish which was cramping her style a bit! She did get a bit of freedom later in the day, but oh what looks of contempt she gave to Jo and Jan when her partying was curtailed as they put the offending collar back on her!

So, well fed (but not appreciably calmer!) it was off to the famous £1 a yard fabric shop (Jo, how DO you manage to live so near to it and not visit every single day?) We all spent of course - purple silky fabric for some palazzo pants for Cayte (who is however now losing that focus and contemplating more pantaloons to add to her ten pairs .... serious addiction!), silvery grey pantaloon fabric for Jan, rose print cotton for a bustle for Jo and some fuschia coloured cord fabric for a skirt and bag for Sarah, together with some pink silky fabric for bag linings. Sorted - or so we thought till we spotted the charity shop across the road where the shopping had to continue with pants, corsetty tops and wraps (all on Special Offer - which just makes you feel so guilty in a charity shop!)

Now of course shopping does make you very hungry - so it was time for more nibbles as we settled down with dance dvds. We'd got an array to choose from but went for old hafla and performance dvds that we were in - which of course, as some of them were a few years ago raised the raucousness level a notch further. Flippy hands, shoulders round our ears --- eeek! Not to mention all those little fun memories you have of such events! Cayte and Sarah were also very pleasantly surprised to find they rather liked a more recent video of a Sakura performance that they had been studiously avoiding watching - result - and it was great to see Jo's mesmerising sword performance to Orange Blossom's 'Habibi' again.

It was a bit of a shock to find we'd been partying for eight hours - the time had just flown. However there was time for one more thing; the Lucky Dip! (Cayte and Sarah were feeling very spoiled as they'd already received beautiful birthday pressies from Jo). And what a great lucky dip it was --- something for everyone and totally gorgeous prizes! Lush smellies, Celtic clips, sparkly pens and make up, Gingerbread Bunny goodies, Tempest corset belt patterns, bellydance cards .... everyone was delighted with their haul!

All too soon it was time to head off home, tired but very very happy. We'd like to say a few HUGE thank yous ------ to Jo for organising and hosting the Manchester Propapalooza so wonderfully, to everyone who came (including the cats!) for being such amazing company and last - but not least - to Tammy and Mary for starting the whole thing! Lots of love and kisses to you all - here's to the next one!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Video of the Week - Tribal Blossoms!

It's time for some more antipodean adventuring this week - we're off to visit our lovely dance sisters, Tribal Blossoms, in Queensland, Australia! The Blossoms, a Gypsy Caravan based troupe, are directed by Dee Thomson; we had the pleasure of taking a lesson alongside her in Portland last year, Beautiful lady, beautiful dancer.

 'Tribal Bellydance is a modern form of Bellydance blending the ideas of ancient traditions for today’s dancer.  Brisbane’s first Bellydance School focused exclusively on Tribal Style Bellydance, with a firm reputation in delivering great technique and high energy performances. Formed in 2006  Tribal Blossoms Tribal Blossoms offers tuition and performance in Brisbane & Mt Tamborine, Australia - bringing dancers into our circle with a technique focused primarily on mastering improvisation skills within the Gypsy Caravan dance format.'

Tribal Blossoms website

Our two videos this week are both bang up to date - from a recent Soiree hosted by the Blossoms in Mt Tamborine. The first shows the troupe improvising during the finale of the show :

This video really has that Gypsy Caravan feel that we love to both watch and dance. Yes, we really, really enjoy watching other Tribal formats and can thoroughly appreciate their elegance and beauty (for example the gorgeous ATS performance by Jesse and Lisa at last week's Merhaba hafla), but this is the one that speaks to us. On her website Dee says how she loves the way this dance 'breathes' and we can really identify with that. With those few moments before you step onto the dance floor when you draw yourself up into position, tense your muscles, feel the adrenalin --- and then the music starts and you begin to move, and there is an almost imperceptible sigh, a soft release of breath, an ever so gentle relaxation as you feel your muscles, bones, heart sink into the sounds, movements, dance. It's magic - and when you see this style danced well you can feel it as it happens to the dancers. And we feel it here!

We love the flow and gentle grace of the slow dancing, as each girl takes her place centre stage with quiet confidence and self assurance. We love the way that Dee's other students join the group and just slot in naturally and unobtrusively. And we love the way they are all so together during the faster part of the music - all taking their turn to lead, sharing that trust and group responsibility - true improv! Thank you ladies!

Our second video today is from the same event, but this time showcases Dee performing a Tribal sword solo:

Dee has done a lot of sword work and has also taken intensive training with Sabine of Oregon. What we particularly like about this video is that although she's dancing solo with a few feet of very shiny metal on her head she has still managed to maintain that tribal 'feel' to her performance. She hasn't moved into the realms of fusion (although there are lots of performances in that category that we love too!) but has stayed very true to her own roots and style. She has welcomed the sword into her own dance, and has made adaptations to meet it there, if that makes sense. Even if we didn't know, and even if she wasn't in tribal costume we would still recognise this as being a tribal solo based on the Gypsy Caravan format, because of the moves themselves but also because of the flow and quality and feel of it. That's what we love about it!

If you want to find out more about Dee and Tribal Blossoms check out their website here. Dee also has a blog and the Blossoms have their own Facebook group.

Now we are conscious that we do talk a fair bit about what we love about the Gypsy Caravan style of Tribal Bellydance. We've had gorgeous examples of that this week, whilst last week we had some amazing examples of ATS from Moirai here in the UK. Both styles are beautiful, but quite obviously have some key differences - which is why each of us has our favourite to dance, the one that is that perfect 'fit' when we are out there on the floor! Sharon Moore of Seattle wrote a great article a few years ago highlighting some of these differences - posture, movement, musical interpretation, performance and so on. She's studied both styles and so it makes for a really interesting read, which you can see here on her site. There are more really interesting articles on the site too.

Right, that's about it for now. Until next time, happy dancing!

Thanks to Dee Thomson and Tribal Blossoms for use of the images in this post