Get into tribal bellydancing

 18 January 2012

Samantha Hasthorpe used to work in construction and had no dance experience. But after seeing Fat Chance Bellydance perform at Majma Dance Festival she knew what she wanted to do.

American Tribal Style bellydancing was created in San Francisco in the late '80s. It is starting to become popular in the UK with more and more teachers coming over from America to teach people to become modern bellydancers.

A career change into dance

"I was in construction for a few years. I did a lot of different things: painting and decorating, basket-making, furniture-making. I liked working with my hands.

"I didn't have any dance experience – no ballet, no modern, no nothing. Then in 2003 I went to Majma with some friends, which is the bellydance festival here in the UK, and saw Fat Chance Bellydance performing on the stage. Then I realized that was what I wanted to do."

American Tribal Style dance

"I did six months in San Francisco, but I stayed in North America for the last two and a half years."

"American Tribal Style was created in San Francisco in the late '80s by Carolena Nericcio.

"It's a fusion of Middle Eastern, flamenco and Indian stylisations, which is improvised using cues and transitions within the dance. So it's women dancing with each other and working together on the stage.

"Tribal fusion took what it liked from that, the posturing, and started mixing modern dance aesthetics – hip-hop, popping and locking – and putting it to more modern electronic music."

Studying tribal bellydance

"I kind of fell in love with it, bought all the videos and just started doing it at home and did that for a year or so.

"Then the Bellydance Superstars came to London and I discovered tribal fusion and saw Rachel Brice performing. I met her at a workshop and she said, 'Send me something, let's see what you can do'. So I did, and she said 'You should train with this person, this person, this person' and they were all based in San Francisco.

"I couldn't get to where I wanted to go in the UK because I didn't have anyone to train with. Tribal is so new here, there weren't any teachers where I was living, down in the south anyway.

"I applied for Arts Council and Winston Churchill. I didn't receive anything because they tend to lean more towards a plan for a show or a tour, not a vague plan of 'I wanna go and train with some bellydancers in San Francisco.' So I had to fund myself.

Learn tribal style bellydancing

"You don't have to go to San Francisco and you don't have to learn from videos"

"You don't have to go to San Francisco and you don't have to learn from videos, because flights are getting cheaper and my teachers from the States are coming over here more and more frequently.

"That's what I wanted to do: bring it all back and share it with everyone here.

"My long-term plans are moving back to the UK and I hope to set up some regular classes and schedule them around touring and teaching internationally."

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