Bellydance Costumes – Tribal

Oh Dear! I seem to have lost track of this series of posts way back in May of 2008! My apologies!

Tribal style costuming, like “cabaret,” comes in many different flavors. Remember that there are always going to be variations, even with styles.

American Tribal Style

ATS, as created by Carolena Nericcio takes the standard vocabulary of bellydance and creates a strong, group-oriented vision. Troupes dancing in the ATS style often incorporate big swirly skirts, poofy cotton harem pants, velvet in black, rust or jewel tones, traditional Afghani coins, Indian embroideries, tassels and turbans. There has been movement over the last few years (decade?) to add woolen hair fals, hair picks with feathers and cowrie shells, and “hair gardens” which are full flower bouquets perched in braids and elaborate hairstyles, sometimes incorporating the bright wool hair falls.

Tribal Fusion

I always find the various genre names a bit amusing — ATS is also a fusion form in many ways. Tribal fusion, World Dance fusionĀ  are all variants from the ATS branch of the bellydance tree. These are NOT always danced as a group, very often there is choreography involved, and costuming can go from basic to very far-out. Because tribal fusion is so personal, as is the costuming choices, I’ll take three fusion dancers’ styles and give examples:

Rachel Brice uses cowrie shells, tassels, flare leg pants and panel skirts to create her signature look. This look has been adopted by many of the fusion dancers – it’s very striking.

Donna Mejia‘s costume choices have been simpler, at least in the locations I’ve see, but in combination with her orientale/electronica/hip hop/Brazilian fusion moves are no less striking.Be sure to explore her site and her videos as well as gallery. She is an amazing, strong dancer with roots in many worlds.

< a href=”” target=”_blank”>Donna Mejia video

Dalia Carella, who may well be a bad choice to label “tribal” fusion, though her World Dance form is definitely fusion, leans more to simple reflections of the forms she is fusing. Huge skirts stand in for flamenco dresses, heavy veils for Indian influence. There is definitely a reason she played the part of Ruth St-Denis off Broadway!

Just a taste – right at the beginning…


I love the individuality of the fusion world. I love the options and the mis-and match mindset. I love coins and cowries – but I miss the beads if I’m performing in these styles. Which leads me to the cosumint/performance style known as “tribaret.” Take the fusion form, and then fuse *it*to what I earlier called Cabaret. Glitz and coins and shells! What more could a girl want? If the baroque era of gilt and overkill had produced a bellydance form (hah!) this would be it.


So there’s my homage to the coins and velvet and fusion of world dance. In later parts, we’ll go over Raqs Gothique, and I still promise a few beading techniques outside of my bedlah series! (the bedlah is progressing. Really it is. Just very very slowly as I have other projects that are more pressing right now…)

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