Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Les Soeurs Tribales - Oh JoY!

Performing an Old School Tribal/Indian Fusion piece at JoY
Us Sakura girls have been mega fans of  Les Soeurs Tribales for quite some time now (if you hadn't guessed!). So you can imagine how excited we were as we headed eastwards last Saturday morning to take workshops with them at the fabulous Jewel of Yorkshire festival (JoY for short!). We had an early set off (Jan got the best deal here as she was last to be picked up!)and got there in time for a swift cuppa and catch up with friends before heading into our first workshop - squeal!

Cinzia with Paulette
 For those of you who don't know, Les Soeurs Tribales are Cinzia Di Cioccio, Denise Forte and Gaia Dunya Rai, a dance company based in Milan, Italy. Their  style is very much based on the Gypsy Caravan format of tribal bellydance - Cinzia is a member of Gypsy Caravan Dance International and has recently achieved Collective Soul Level 5 with Paulette (wow - that is some achievement!), in addition to appearing with Paulette in the new Gypsy Caravan Technique 9 dvd. However, not only do Les Soeurs dance Gypsy Caravan, or 'Old School' tribal, but they have  developed from it their own unique LST improvisational format, within which you can see their own creativity shine! They don't stop there though - these talented ladies have also developed their own styles of Retro-Chic and Vintage tribal, which, together with some wonderfully inspired fusion work make for a pretty impressive package. So you can see why we love them and were so eager to learn from them ...

I spy our very own Sakura Jan. Go Jan!
Our first workshop of the day was was Tribal Old School - the fundamentals of tribal within the Gypsy Caravan format. After a thorough warm up (and do these ladies make sure you're thoroughly warmed up - but in a good way!) we went through some basic fast and slow Gypsy Caravan moves. The girls are excellent teachers; Cinzia took the lead and as she is very fluent in English we all really benefitted from her clear explanations and constant gentle reminders about posture. Having all three of the ladies there meant that we could all see demonstrations of the moves and also catch one of those beautiful smiles. They really enjoy what they are doing, and it shows. As this was an open level workshop there was a range of experience, from people who had danced Gypsy Caravan format for some time to total tribal beginners, so the basics were covered in great detail (and of course no matter how experienced you are it's always good to revisit those basics - there's something new to learn every time!). There was a real emphasis on drilling all the moves - including on the left of course! We even got chance to do a bit of improv in small groups at the end. All in all it was a great workshop, and we really enjoyed it. There was a really positive, supportive atmosphere and certainly the faces of the other attendees indicated that they had a fabulous time too! Before I go on to the next workshop, here's a little taster of Les Soeurs in action - performed Ols School/Indian Fusion at the JoY show on the Saturday night :

As you can imagine, they went down a storm!

Denise and Gaia
 Now, I must confess I'd been a little hesitant about the next workshop. Bellydance Workout brought to mind lots of leaping around and sweating. But I'd been talked into it by my Sakura sisters so after another quick cuppa and a bit of a shop in JoY's amazing souk, off we trotted. This workshop wasn't at all what I'd expected; it was actually much, much better. Yes, it was challenging - but as Gaia took us through different moves and exercises there was a strong focus on posture, balance and flexibility. It was one of those workshops where you can really feel your body working .. and become very aware of the quality of your movements. I really 'felt the benefit' as we say up North. Afterwards my muscles felt as though they'd most definitely been used, but not in a 'dragging yourself up the staircase groaning in agony' sort of way. In a 'just right' sort of way. I really, really enjoyed it, and am going to incorporate some of the exercises into my own practices. It also made me think I really do need to stop procrastinating about taking up some nice gentle yoga or something again!

Lunch and a bit more shopping later and it was time for the last workshop of the day : Retro-Chic Tribal Bellydance. I was the lone Sakura gal in this one (although I think Sarah and Jan did have their regrets, having had such a great time in the previous two). I was REALLY looking forward to this, having caught some of Les Soeurs' vintage inspired stuff on You Tube. Such as this one :

Vintage Style!
 Looking at this I can see lots of moves that we covered in both the Retro-Chic and the later LST workshops. I love it! And boy, was that workshop fun! There were huge smiles all round, lots of spontaneous clapping .... some great music choices to drill to (including a rather fabulous version of 'It's a Man's World'), and lots and lots of drilling those moves. I really like the way in which Les Soeurs not only drill the moves you've just done, but skilfully weave in everything you've done so far - both fast and slow moves - so that you don't forget (and let's face it, we've all been there, where you remember the moves you've just done but everything before that has flown away with the fairies!). We learned lots (and Cinzia is sending us some notes to jog our memories!) and this was such a feel-good workshop - the perfect end to a perfect day!

Performing at the JoY show
 We were up bright and early on Sunday morning for our final workshop of the weekend - New School and Signature Moves. This introduced us to LST's own unique tribal bellydance format, which we have long admired from afar. Once again there was so much to learn, presented in a warm, supportive environment with lots and lots of joy and smiles. We came away with several fabulous combos to incorporate into our dance, and will never forget the sheer happiness of drilling out those moves to 'Papparazzi' - I think our grins were so wide that the Butterfly Effect must have spread them all over West Yorkshire! The two hours seemed to fly by, and in what seemed like only twenty minutes we were stretching out, cooling down and saying our goodbyes.

Voguing on the JoY stage!
Sadly we had to miss the last workshop of the weekend - tribal fusion choreography. Whilst we were sorry not to be there, we have heard it was challenging, so might not have been the best choice for us at the end of a long weekend. Having said that, if the rest of their workshops are anything to go by then it must have been well worthwhile. Les Soeurs had also performed at the show the previous night, to thunderous applause .... three numbers, including a bit of Voguing!

Cinzia with our Gypsy Caravan Mamma, Paulette
 It is so good to see Les Soeurs Tribales over here in the UK, and to see more and more people learning about them. They are not only wonderful dancers, but also really warm, lovely ladies. Their happiness in dancing shines out not only in their performances but also in their teaching, and they represent both their own dance format and their Gypsy Caravan roots perfectly. Cinzia told me that in her teaching and dancing she seeks only to honour her teacher. Well, Mamma Paulette, should you be reading this, she certainly does all that and more besides!

Should you want to learn more about Les Soeurs Tribales visit their website here and their official Facebook page here.

Chris Ogden (One of JoY's organisers) performs tribal with
Debbie Berry at the JoY show
Now I really can't sign off without giving a huge shout-out to the fantastic JoY festival itself. Warm. welcoming, well organised and excellent value for money; as always we had a fantastic weekend there and can't wait until October when Paulette Rees-Denis herself is teaching (guess who's already booked all her workshops?!). Thank you so much to Chris and Mandy for all their hard work, and for bringing all these wonderful dancers together for us. If you missed out on this April you real;ly did miss a treat - make sure you don't miss out again! Dates for the next one are October 12th and 13th and details should soon be up here. Get those forms in!!

Until next time, happy - and JoYful - dancing!

Big thank yous to Brian and Liz Jarrett for use of photos from the JoY show, to Les Soeurs Tribales for workshop and Vintage Style photos and to Paulette and Cinzia for the photos of the two of them together!


  1. Dear Cayte, thanks so much for this review....we are so glad you had a good time with us! see you soon in UK, Les Soeurs Tribales (Cinzia, Denise and Gaia)

  2. Thanks so much dear Cayte!!! see you soon in UK! Cinzia, Denise & Gaia