I am proud to announce that I am now working with and learning from Serpentina North Ensemble, one of Toronto’s few ATS (American Tribal Style) troupes. Started by Orkideh, originally from New York, who is certified by Carolena Nericcio to teach ATS. I’m excited to study ATS with Orkideh and this lovely group of women, and although I haven’t done more than a few ATS workshops here and there I have been inspired by FatChance Bellydance specifically in my early days of exploring bellydance. I have also been studying tribal fusion for the past few years, which has been an amazing supplement to my regular studies in more traditional Egyptian styles and has helped me fuse my bellydancing with my other creative interests. Growing up with the more experimental side of electronic music, I am drawn to the tribal fusion scene for its appreciation of strange music and strange movement. As for ATS, I am always captivated by the group interaction of the dancers and the way in which the dance is truly designed for a tribe of women.
Carolena Nericcio has been an inspiration to me from afar as before I even knew who she was, I saw images of her that spoke to me and encouraged me to pursue bellydance. Later I was surprized to find out she is also vegan and has an affinity for Kwan Yin, goddess of Compassion. Its possible to feel a great solidarity with someone you have never met and I know this about the many people I look up to without ever having encountered them face to face. A couple years back, during my first year in San Fransisco for SF Mecca Immersion, I did have an opportunity to take some of her workshops and attend a class and hafla at FatChance. Lucky me, it was everything I imagined it would be and left hoping to have more time to study ATS. However with few opportunities here in Toronto as well as even fewer free hours in my week, it remained one of those things on my to-do list.
I am in my third week of rehearsals with Serpentina and am loving it. The core group is preparing for an upcoming show, Salon Noir, in April –as for me, I’m learning the choreographies still. I have very little background in the ATS vocabulary in terms of the formations and cues so that will be the big learning curve. And of course, something very distinct about ATS is toned down range of emotion expressed in the performance. Not that its a stoic dance by any means but it does not require range of theatrical facial expression that characterizes Egyptian styles –no flirty, no coy, no maiden running across a field. ATS is a more zen group dynamic, one that has a completely different feel to it than most of the stuff I’ve worked on. Don’t get me wrong, I love theatrical, but I enjoy having time for some straight up dance meditation.
Stay tuned for more on my new adventures in ATS!