Paulette's Published Words

Where I was featured

Welcome to Paulette’s Inspired Library!

After many years of writing, being published, being interviewed, and having pieces written about me, I’ve collected these works here in a personal library to share with you. This is my gift to you, to inspire, enlighten, and share the story of my personal growth and experiences, artwork, poetry, and our beautiful Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance®! All here, all for you.

I’ve got so many great resources to share with you, so each quarter I will be posting up several of my favorite articles for you to enjoy. Some of them are gems that I have written over the course of my travels through life and dance. Others are stories from our tribal sisters, sharing their knowledge, experiences, and love of the dance. There are interviews with me also, from various global magazines, how cool is that! And sometimes I’ll share book, dvd, or music reviews – there are so many great pieces from Gypsy Caravan’s history to read too! 

Let’s get things started with a selection of work including one of my most recent articles.

Each of the files are in Dropbox. To receive the file, simply click on the link and you can either download it to your dropbox, or save the pdf to your computer. Easy!

Bellydance Oasis Issue 50, April 2014

A History of Tribal in Australia

A History of ATS, Tribal and Tribal Fusion in Australia

by Devi Mamak, Caroline Miller, Rebecca Forster, Madonna Teitzel, Nina Martinez, Acushla Mkrtschjan, Fiona MacPherson and Angela Gatti

Bellydance Oasis Issue 50, April 2014

Devi Mamak from the Blue Montains, NSW:

The first whisper of any sort of Tribal bellydance came to the shores of Melbourne, Victoria somewhere in the mid-nineties. This was in thanks to Maree and Toula from Flowers of the Desert who traveled to San Francisco and brought back several of the FatChance BellyDance(FCBD®) videos. This was the time before DVDs, youtube, and the internet was not common place in homes. It was also relatively unheard of for dancers to travel overseas to pursue their art, at least within Australia at that time.

Maree and Toula dabbled with the idea of American Tribal Style®, dancing in a group rather than soloists and wore the costumes. At that time I don’t think there was enough information to really capture the dance properly so the initial buzz of ATS® back then died down very quickly but left just a few embers burning to reignite the flame later down the track.

The video, ‘FatChance BellyDance LIVE!’, however began to circulate around the country. I first saw a copy of the video that had been taped off a tape in 1996. I was totally fascinated by the synchronicity of the dancers, the regal posture and the hands. I asked my teacher at the time Kaiya Seaton about FCBD and where could we learn this style. Kaiya told me that there was no one in Australia dancing ATS and that the dancers of FCBD lived in caravans together, travelled around the USA and tattooed each other. This was the urban myth that was circulating in parts of Australia at the time!

In 1999, I decided to visit my place of birth and my father in San Francisco. I wrote a letter to Carolena Nericcio asking if could attend the FCBD classes and she wrote me a letter back saying that I could. I stayed in San Francisco for several months and immersed myself in ATS.

Upon my return, I was struck with the obvious. I was the only one in Australia wanting to dance ATS (or so I thought). Back then I had never been on a computer in my life let alone own one. If I did, I would have soon discovered there were already a few Tribal enthusiasts around the country. Not many but more than I expected. In 2000, I started to teach the little I did know about ATS.

Months into teaching, I discovered there were two others like myself, that I knew of, in the Southern hemisphere that were as obsessed about ATS as I was. One was Alaine Haddon Cassey from Western Australia and the other was Susan Brown from New Zealand. At the time I was very disappointed that the three of us lived so far apart from each other but in hindsight I think it was a blessing in terms of ATS and Tribal in all of its off shoots. Australia is so large and we now have pockets of Tribal in its varying forms all over the country. This may not have been the case if we all lived close together. Melbourne too was aching for more Tribal after having witnessed it originally.

I hosted Karen Gehrman in 2002 in the Blue Mountains, NSW. There were pockets of dancers from all over the country that attended her workshops and were inspired to get this ‘thing’ right. In the early years of Tribal in Australia, many dancers fused ATS with other folkloric Middle Eastern styles (what we had been doing for years) and others simply tried out the ATS aesthetic but still performed cabaret style bellydance. For myself at least, Karen’s visit was an ‘ah-ha’ moment. I finally understood more about the posture of ATS, the group improvisation and how things worked for ATS.

In 2003, our troupe, Ghawazi Caravan, entered a well publicised bellydance competition and came 2nd in the ‘best troupe’ category. This recognition for ATS and us was the start of ATS and eventually other Tribal styles becoming popular in Sydney and New South Wales. Also in 2003, I co-sponsored Paulette Rees Denis as the Gypsy Caravan style was also becoming well known in Australia, largely thanks to Alaine.

Around the same time in Sydney, a troupe called Urban Turban surfaced, directed by Hilary Cinis, and started to make the circuits in and around Sydney. Originally an ATS troupe, they soon started to perform Tribal Fusion and fire dancing. After a few years, Hilary decided to pursue a solo career in dance and Urban Turban changed their name to Urban Quabila, directed by Deb Napier. Deb Napier has since gone onto dancing as part of Las Musas and is now directing the Tribal and Trance festival biannually. Around that time, Tribal Jewels from Wollongong was also making a splash, directed by Jaqueline Pepperkamp.

Since then there have been many other troupes pop up including Oreades, Ghaziya, Onyx Tribal, Aurora, Las Hermanas, Aziff, Global Gypsy Dance Collective, Zia dance collective, just to name a few.

Whilst Ghawazi Caravan were busy working on our technique and performing as often as possible around the Blue Mountains and Sydney, Susan Brown was busy doing the same in New Zealand. She eventually went to San Francisco and performed with FCBD before giving up dance all together.

Alaine was busy traveling to the USA sometimes on a yearly basis. Alaine had started with ATS, but through her regular travels to the USA and Tribal Fest she also discovered Gypsy Caravan, Black Sheep Bellydance, directed by Kajira Djoumahna and Tribal Fusion, in particular Rachel Brice. She documented her travels well through various articles and online forums and the world of Tribal suddenly got bigger for us in Australia.

In 2004, Alaine, her troupe Diaspora and myself and my troupe, Ghawazi Caravan travelled again to San Francisco to study with FCBD, Jill Parker and Gypsy Caravan as well as attend the Tribal Fest hosted by Kajira Djoumahna. What was amazing to me was the huge response we got after our performance and the amount of people that said they loved our new style! But we were doing ATS? What we discovered was that ‘Tribal’ in the USA was moving so quickly and changing at such a fast rate that people were coming into Tribal not at the beginning with ATS as we in Australia imagined but somewhere else along the way. Many had not even heard of ATS back then, as we discovered after chatting with them. I think things are different now, as things have come full circle with many in the USA and the world going back to ATS.

By 2006, there were enough Tribal dancers studying FCBD style, Gypsy Caravan style and Tribal Fusion to warrant our first festival dedicated to Tribal bellydance and it off shoots. I was the director of the first ‘Tribal and Trance’ festival and we had people all over Australia and New Zealand attend. I had asked teachers from around Australia to come and teach and perform as well as Carolena Nericcio and Megha Gavin. The festival was a huge success and whilst this was true, I decided to pass on the reigns of the festival to Deb Napier. This event is now held bi-annually and continues to grow from strength to strength and now includes styles such as ATS Gypsy Caravan, Tribal Fusion in many various forms such as Flamenco Indian, Oriental, funk, hip hop, ballet all fused with Tribal, as well as off shoots such as Gothic Bellydance and Industrial Bellydance. As well as the festival, there are dancers all over Australia sponsoring many great dancers in a variety of different Tribal styles from around Australia and from other countries.

Caroline Miller from Melbourne, Victoria:

Since modern Tribal Style Bellydance started 25 years ago, if we assume Carolena Nericco of FatchanceBellydance® was the mother of this style that helped spawn and inspire many of the current Tribal dancers and troupes (Rachel Brice, Paulette Rees- Denise, Jill Parker, to name a few), it has changed and metamorphosed into many various forms within the title.

Here in Victoria, Australia it has been slow to take off. Way back in the mid/late 90s The Desert Flowers (Toula and Maree) saw FatChanceBellyDance® on a trip to the USA and fell in love with the style, went to some classes and introduced it to Melbourne dancers. Apparently though Melbourne bellydancers were not as keen, and it was a slow take off. The next troupe was Zaar Bellydance, a group of girls that had seen and loved the videos of FatchanceBellydance ® (yes, no dvds then) and sought out Devi Mamak to learn more. Soon the girls of Zaar Bellydance began to take classes in ATS®, and a small dedicated group of students began to learn this improvised style of dance. Two of those students were myself and Amanda Heinze both had danced cabaret but were keen to perform ATS®. And perform they did, and formed the ATS® Tribal troupe Red Earth Ghawazee in 2004.

I’m pleased to say that the Tribal bellydance scene in Melbourne though is changing and growing. More classes are being taught, more dancers are creating a fusion in their individual styles that is making the dance scene in Victoria a whole lot more interesting to be part of and to watch. Mel Rogers (Melusina) has had a large influence within the fusion scene as has one of her students, Giselle Sibyl.

Within the past 12 months, there have been new teachers commencing teaching classes. I have since had my FCBD® ATS® Certified Teacher training doing classes in eastern suburbs with my Red Earth Ghawazee troupe, Kerry Hellston down at Seaford as TwoBaysTribal is teaching ATS® (and of course Kerry performs with Red Earth Ghawazee), Antonia Gore, another FCBD® ATS® Certified Teacher, has moved down from New South Wales and will shortly be starting ATS® classes in inner city Melbourne. Then Laura from Entwined Bellydance is teaching Tribal Bellydance in outer southern suburbs. Regionally we have Tribal troupes and classes happening in Koroit, Geelong, Ballarat and Nhill ……

All of these dancers have studied in the styles they are teaching; certainly none of this can be learned in a few quick workshops and costuming. It takes time to perfect a style, to respect the dance and those that created it, workshops help, practice helps, experience helps but it is sparking the interest of prospective new dancers to come along and try the dance and then the enthusiasm and encouragement by the teacher for the students to want to come back. These styles may not be for everyone, but we must embrace all styles of bellydance, some styles will grow and continue, others will fall by the wayside, which has always been the same. Today’s students will take Tribal in other directions and that is good and as it should be and of course that is what makes it so exciting to be part of!! Contact info for Caroline: www.redearthghawazee.com

Rebecca Foster on Tribal in Western Australia:

To talk about the history of Tribal in Western Australia could not be explored without honouring people, from my perspective, that inspired the initial interest in the notion of ‘Tribal’ or ‘tribe’. So I will begin the timeline of the WA Tribal lineage with Shaheena (Angie Irwin) from Bellydance Central (formerly the Mystique Academy), which was home to the Mystique Gypsy Tribe. In the early 1990’s the Mystique Gypsy style brought together influences from Middle Eastern Dance like Egyptian, Moroccan, Berber and Tunisian, stemming from Shaheena’s earlier teacher’s methods, workshop intensives with Aisha Ali in about 1993 when she came to Perth and of course, Angie’s own research and travels to the regions. The Mystique Gypsy Format was not unlike other forms of Tribal in its use of a vocabulary comprised of movements, cues, transitions and an awareness of fellow dancers and a ‘group’ feel.

Looking back, it was seeing Mystique perform at one of the Australia Day Multi-cultural concerts in Perth that my interest in the idea of ‘Tribal’ was first sparked.

It was around the mid 1990’s that the power of the internet and video technology (and getting your hands on recorders that were able to play the US format) enabled further development of Tribal here. I guess WA’s Tribal journey is not too dissimilar despite our geographical isolation to the east coast and indeed the birthplace of Tribal – the USA, in that respect.

Through media based inspiration, information and instruction becoming accessible with the first videos from Carolena Nericcio and FatChanceBellyDance(FCBD), American Tribal Style’s (ATS) signature characteristics started to creep into MED dance scene. It was also the visual media feast that sparked the interest and passion for Tribal in Alaine Haddon Casey, the founder of Gypsy Trail Tribal Dance Company and who, alongside Devi Mamak are the Tribal mamas of Australian Tribal Dance. Alaine begun to research ATS and this lead her to the USA to undertake classes and tuition with Carolena.

In early 2000, Alaine hosted her first workshop series in ATS, leading to regular classes thanks to support from Ayesha and Eva (then Sheik to Sheik Studio). Kismet Tribe was formed in Fremantle with Claire, Annabelle and a few other gals and Alaine officially established Gypsy Trail Tribal Dance Company (GTT) and the first of her tribes, ‘Diaspora’.

This was followed about a year or so later with Alaine hosting Ruth Hampton (Seattle) as part of a dance exchange that was established during one of Alaine’s return trips to the States. It was during this trip to Perth that Ruth (training with Sharon Moore- certified in Gypsy Caravan Format and ATS) introduced some of the vocabulary from the Gypsy Caravan (GC) Format developed by Paulette Rees-Denis of Portland, Oregon. This lead Alaine on her next USA intensive to explore the GC format further and host Paulette and her husband/musician Jeff Rees in Perth in 2003.

This was a pivotal year in Tribal in WA, introducing the concept of a multi-directional format associated with ITS and the development of Alaine’s integrated GTT format that incorporated ATS and GC styling. It was the year I also became the first regional member of Diaspora, became certified in Gypsy Trail’s certification program, formed Maiyermar Tribe our own dedicated Tribal dancers with Evocation Dance and concentrated my efforts on bringing Tribal to regional communities in the South West and Great Southern while Alaine continued to build the presence of Tribal in the metropolitan areas.

Paulette returned in 2004 and this created the opportunity for Ayesha of Sheik to Sheik to introduce Paulette to a very surprised group of students in one of her evening bellydance classes. It lead to the birth of the Free Spirit Gypsies and their ongoing evolution as they drawn from other Tribal influences and inspiration.

ATS also got another inspiration boost with Alaine hosting Carolena in 2005 and in around 2008, Vicki Pretoris moved back to WA, spent time studying with Alaine and then moved south Bunbury, establishing Azzuredance. This provided opportunities for regular ATS tuition and the establishment of a tribe that offered additional opportunities for the community to experience Tribal.

Tribal continues to develop in WA with both ATS and GC being a continuing influence and in more recent times, Tribal Fusion and Alternative Tribal Bellydance stylings. We have also seen it become included in at the WAMED festivals and this has created opportunities for dancers to gain further skill development and appreciation for the stylings.

Madonna of Toowoomba, Queensland had this to share:

Tribal Bellydance began for me when I bought ‘FatChance Live!’ in 1995 from The Seventh Veil in Melbourne. I was blown away by the strength, dignity and communication between the dancers, the alternative costuming and Jill Parker’s tattoos. The music they were dancing to also struck a chord. They were dancing to some of our favourite music: Musicians of the Nile, Music of the Ghawazee and Fellahin, Masters Musicians of Jajouka and Susu and the Cairo Cats.

At this time, I was teaching Bellydance to a small group of women and performing in a trio called The Flaming Bellys – with my friends Jenny and Anna, from the Toowoomba Bellydance Group, started in ’93 and taught by Glenda Joy Stace aka Rasheeda. I promptly incorporated Tribal (as I saw it) into my repertoire and fused it with the folky Egyptian dance I loved. In ’96, I attended the Flowers of the Desert workshop in Brisbane and that cemented my love of Tribal improvisation, communicative duets, trios and chorus.

During this time my partner, Peter picked up a doumbek and Anna’s husband, Ian and his Folk music friends were inspired to form the ‘Oriental Orchestra of Toowoomba’ playing classic Middle Eastern bellydance tunes. Tribal Style Bellydance was useful in our often-improvised, high energy sets. OOOT and The Flaming Bellys, joined by dancer, Sally, brought Tribal to Brisbane for the Middle Eastern Dance Academy’s Extravaganza in ’97 and the Greek Club shortly after that. The Bellys performed many moves we now know as classic ATS in a chorus of three with a soloist in the centre, a chorus of two with centre stage duet and fades in quartet formation. OOOT recorded and released a CD in 1998 – ‘Echoes from a Desert Land’ but soon disbanded after that.

At the same time, Peter and I were pursuing a more folky approach to our music and dance with DrumDance Bellydance. This was a much more percussion driven approach and allowed the music and dance to work together more intimately. We found that ATS® Bellydance lent itself harmoniously to festival settings with roving dancers and musicians, an all round audience and often proscenium audience. DrumDance Bellydance continues to include live music in our performances, classes and workshops.

Carolena produced her publication Tribal Talk in 2000 which dancers promptly devoured and we all made pantaloons!! Rasheedas Veils and Downunder Tribal were exploring Tribal Dance now in outlying suburbs of Brisbane. Hmmm….. Tribal appears to be more popular in regional areas.

In 2005, Rasheeda’s Veils brought Devi and Lara from Ghawazi Caravan to Morayfield and this inspired another generation of Tribal dancers in Queensland. Carolena and Megha taught at Australia’s first TTF in 2006 and I booked in immediately for my first ‘in the flesh’ Carolena experience. Devi came to Toowoomba and I completed General Skills in 2007 and then ATS Teacher Training and Tribal Soul’s brought Devi back to Qld in 2009.

Contact info for Madonna: www.drumdance.com.au

Nina Martinez from Far North QLD had this to share:

Tribal Bellydance in the sunny state of Queensland is a wonderful mix of dance including GCDC ™, FCBD®, Tribal Fusion, Goth and beyond. Like many in the early days of Tribal, around 1999, all that was available to me were FCBD® DVDs and imagination! I had travelled to a workshop with Devi, and this opened up a whole new world of dance.

Meeting Paulette Rees Denis around 2003 I fell in love with her format and philosophy. Inviting Paulette to Innisfail, we had women from all over Qld attend.

The lovely Dee Thomson was among these women, and between us have endeavored to inspire students and teachers alike, in our passion for this style. Dee has had much success with her Brisbane classes/workshops, Feast of the Senses festival and has produced fine teachers including the gorgeous Sian Bhala and the adorable Alice Knox.

For me, I am proud of the fabulous Tribal community I have created in FNQ. Townsville, Kuranda, Cairns and Innisfail will all welcome Tribal dancers if you are visiting! I am also a member of GCDC™ International and accredited Master Teacher of this format. My next rendezvous with Paulette is in Mexico assisting and teaching Intensives and workshops….woohoo!

Sharing my passion, creating beauty and joy, this is why I love to dance!

Contact info for Nina: www.gypsyrain.com.au

Achushla from Adelaide, South Australia had this to share:

Tribal Bellydance in Adelaide was first taught by Myra Fallon in 2002, at Bellydance Arabesque, and was inspired by the original videos that FCBD® released. The first ATS® performers in Adelaide were Kylea Hartley and Acushla Mkrtschjan who formed their duet known as ‘Gypsy Sagaat’ in 2003. Kylea started teaching ATS and formed the ‘Tribe Vibe’ troupe, now known as Tribe Vibe Dance. Acushla also began teaching and formed Sacred Tribe, now known as Body Temple Dance Company.

From there, many offshoots sprouted! Lilly Sim started Tribal as a student with Kylea, then started teaching Tribal at Ahlam Bellydance Centre, and has now formed Nymphaea Bellydance. Cathy Phillips trained with both Kylea and Acushla and has now branched off to form ‘Flourish Tribal’. Evangeline Feary started as a student with Acushla, began teaching, and then moved on to form the ATS troupe ‘Ruby Datura’. Myra Fallon is now principle of Bellydance Amethyst and teaches Tribal along with Solange, who is currently troupe director of ‘Babylonia’. Further north of Adelaide, Mirahmar taught at Henna Nights and formed ‘Arati Tribal bellydance’. In the Adelaide Hills, Saffron (Kasha, Rebecca and Tricia) also formed an ATS troupe and still offers classes today. Meanwhile Tribal continued being taught at Bellydance Arabesque, where Regan Gardner is now principle of the school and directs the ATS troupe ‘Tribe Arabesque’. Many of the Adelaide Tribal teachers have had a foundation of ATS, some of whom are FCBD teacher certified. Several teachers also specialise in teaching Tribal Fusion as well as ITS.

Contact info for Achushla: www.bodytempledance.com

Fiona MacPherson on Tribal in the Capital:

I began studying ATS® in 2002 after attending a workshop run by Susan Brown (formerly of NZ) at the SMEDF. Devi Mamak and Ghawazi Caravan came to Canberra in 2004 for a workshop and performance and inspired a whole new bunch of ladies to petition me to begin teaching classes in ATS.

FiFi Noir (aka Me!) began performing in 2009 as a fusion and theatrical dance artiste, blending elements of various styles of bellydance with artistic stylings borrowed from Art Deco/Nouveau, Kabuki, Vaudeville, Burlesque, old school musicals and the subcultures of Gothic, Neo-Victorian and Steampunk. I have performed and taught at many bellydance events all over Australia including Tribal and Trance Fest, Newcastle Bellydance Festival and WAMED. I also regularly collaborate with Burlesque, Circus and Performance Artists and have been involved in such events as the National Fringe Festival, Sound and Fury and The Blue Marquessa

Under the auspices of ‘Shimmy Bellydance’, I continued learning ATS and began teaching classes as ‘Tribal Shimmy’. I was certified in 2005 by Kajira Djoumahna (USA) in Level 1 BlackSheep BellyDance format and Tribal Shimmy premiered at the 2006 National Multicultural festival. Shimmy Bellydance ceased operations in 2006 and Tribal Shimmy became ‘Tribalista Bellydance’.

Tribalista performs a blended style of ATS drawing from BSBD and FCBD styles and performs regularly at various events including National Multicultural Festival, National Folk Festival, Floriade, Tribal and Trance Festival, Tribal Student Soirees and many others. Tribalista Bellydance, Canberra has hosted a number of Student Soirees and run several shows over the years and will close in mid 2014 when I relocate interstate.

The Theatrical Tribal Fusion duo, GypsyNoir (Myself and Rita Markwell) formed in 2005 and we danced together at various events until 2009. Pioneering a new genre of fusion blending theatrical and dramatic techniques with our training in Tribal and other styles of dance. We performed at numerous Bellydance, Burlesque and Variety shows in Canberra and interstate.

Rita Markwell went on to create her own dance format of ‘Modern Gypsy’, which draws on Rom-inspired, Tribal Fusion and contemporary/contact improvisation styles. From 2007, she taught with the Canberra Dance Theatre, making dynamic dances for the Gypsy Dance StageShow. She left Canberra to relocate to Brisbane in 2011 where she continues to teach and has formed a new ATS troupe ‘Silk Road Rebellion’.

Pippa Spice began teaching ATS and formed a new ATS duo ‘Buasavanh’ with fellow Tribalista dancer, Bronwyn Campbell in 2010. Pippa trained with me in Tribalista 2006-2013 and has also trained with Devi Mamak, Carolena Nericcio and many others. Buasavanh regularly runs classes within Canberra as well as performing/teaching at many local and interstate festivals and events including the Illawarra Folk Festival, Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, Newcastle Bellydance Festival and SMEDF.

Contact info for Fiona: www.Tribalista.com.au

Angela Gatti from Miasma on Tribal in Tasmania:

In 2005, Katrina Bock moves home to Tasmania after a couple of years in Sydney learning ATS with Hilary Cinis and dancing as a troupe member of Urban Turban. Katrina and myself hook up in Northern Tasmania and start performing Tribal Style Bellydance together as Miasma. We perform all over Tasmania mostly in nightclubs, burlesque shows and bellydance events, experimenting with Tribal Fusion, sword and fire performances. At the same time, we continued to receive occasional tuition from Hilary, as well as one or two sessions with Devi Mamak and whatever visiting teachers came to Tasmania.

Around the same time (2004/2005?), Denise McMaster from Hobart is learning from Alaine Haddon-Casey, and introducing Hobart to Gypsy Caravan Style Tribal. Denise established a troupe in Hobart, Tribal Bellydance Company and continues her training, attaining Collective Soul certification and teaching classes in Hobart. This troupe performed together for approximately two years.

Meanwhile in Northern Tasmania Katrina and I begin teaching ATS to a couple of girls and establish a student troupe, Ekstasis, in late 2007.

In 2007, Katrina and I achieve FCBD ATS General Skills Certification in the Blue Mountains, NSW, and this is when we decide to focus on ATS as teachers and with our student troupe.

In 2009, we received FCBD ATS Teacher Training in the Blue Mountains with Carolena Nericcio. Since then, our classes and student troupe has grown, we have hosted teachers once a year since 2007, including Hilary Cinis, Devi Mamak, Melusina, and Acushla Mkrtschjan.

In Hobart, Tribal Bellydance had a bit of a quiet phase between 2008-2012, then Kristie Lee moved to Tasmania from WA and had been studying with the Free Spirit Gypsies and established classes in Gypsy Caravan style again in Hobart.

Contact info for Angela and Katrina: www.miasmabellydance.com

Back to Devi:

Fast forward to 2014 and the are so many Tribal styles popular in Australia now. There are teachers and classes all over the country and this is largely due to the Internet, YouTube, online classes, regular visits from international teachers but of course, it is really the hard work and dedication of the teachers to bring a high level of teaching to our students and the hard work and dedication of the students that has made a Tribal flourish in Australia.

Having taught and performed mainly ATS and Tribal in many different countries I realise that Australia generally has a strong grounding in ATS and/or Gypsy Caravan style before our interest in Tribal Fusion – or at least an understanding of it. I have been teaching around Australia and New Zealand, Asia and the USA since 2003 but it wasn’t until going to Europe that I realised that different cultures bring their own flavour to the table. And our Aussie dancers certainly have their own flavour too!

We have some amazing dancers here both in traditional styles and contemporary styles of dance but beyond that, Australia is extremely multicultural especially in the bigger cities and has been so for a number of years. We are exposed to a wide variety of dance styles from all over the world as well as classical Western styles such as ballet, jazz and contemporary. Australian dancers are passionate about technique and form like many dancers are in the West, but we are also exposed to the emotion and passion of many cultural dance forms but we pair this with our ‘no worries’ attitude to life and the ability to not take ourselves too seriously. This variety of approaches manifests itself in good technique and form but also a willingness and eagerness to try out new things and to not get bogged down in what is ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’.

When we use the term Tribal Fusion in Australia it will not always have the same connotations as it will in some other countries. Australians will try fusing many different styles together, which will often (but not always) be governed by the music, sometimes successfully and sometimes not but to use an Aussie term, we tend to ‘give it a go’. Pair this with the fact that we don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously we do and I think this is a great thing for the whole Australian dance community.

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