Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance

Okay, if you've never seen Tribal style belly dance before, this is going to look mighty odd to you. It's an edgier, slinkier version of belly dance, and in my opinion, the hardest form to do. Let alone do well.

The costumes are a wild and funky fusion of Gothic, tribal and urban elements. The music has a techno edge with a heavy beat. And the dance itself? It's belly meets break dance. The muscular control this takes is unbelievable, and you can take my word for it. I started out with the Egyptian style (cabaret style, mentioned in earlier posts), but this form intrigued me from the first moment I saw it. It's so sinuous and sharp at the same time. Mesmerizing. And really damn hard. Ever tried moving your rib cage independently from the rest of your body while remaining absolutely still everywhere else? It's called a rib cage isolation, and if you want six pack abs, this is the exercise workout for you.

Try this: stand with your feet hip distance apart and bend your knees slightly. Tuck in your butt and hold your abs in by sucking your belly button back toward your spine. Nope, nope, you can't hold your breath. Keep breathing. (This is hard enough already, right?) Now move your ribcage to the right. Just your ribcage. Hold your spine, head, and lower body completely still. This is called a rib cage slide. Try a set of ten. Keep practicing. Hard, eh? Feel the pull/burn in your upper abs and between your shoulder blades? You haven't let go of your lower abs, right? Uh oh. Busted. Gotta keep holding everything tight to be able to isolate the muscles and make the movements crisp and sharp. Now move your ribcage to the left and do a set of ten. Try moving it outward (forward, by sticking your breasts out) and then back (contract those upper abs so your ribcage sucks backward). If you're feeling adventurous by this point, try moving your ribcage in a smooth circle without moving your hips even a fraction of an inch. Uh-huh. Feel all those muscles pulling that you never knew you had? Good. Now imagine being able to isolate every part of your body like that and you'll have the merest inkling of appreciation for what these dancers can do.

One of the most famous tribal dancers is Rachel Brice (excuse me while I have a fan girl moment). I haven't had the pleasure of seeing her live yet, but I own about four of her teaching DVDs and my abs scream every time I use them. Love it.

Here's a clip of Rachel from a few years back so you can see what I mean. I want you to watch this with an open mind if it's your first time seeing this dance form. Pay special attention to her abs and the way she can isolate one part of her body in a lock while the rest of her remains absolutely still. Really. You have to see it to "get" it.

Okay, so even if that style isn't your cup of tea, you've gotta give it to the woman. Have you ever seen abs like that in your life? She's a vegan (which explains her extremely low body fat percentage) and a massage therapist (yay us!). What stuns me the most is her muscular control of her abs. With a lot of practice I was able to learn to "roll" my belly up and down, but not nearly as smoothly as she can. I can even isolate my upper abs from the lower ones and do some belly locks, but I've never seen anyone who could isolate their abs into three or four separate zones like Rachel can. She's slinky and snakey and strong all at the same time. And even with all that makeup and harsh costuming, you've gotta admit she's pretty damn sexy. Whew. Wish I could move like that!

Here's another clip, and this time I want you to watch how flexible yet amazingly strong she is. Guess that comes from her years as a devoted yoga teacher/practitioner. Jeez, maybe I should get into the yoga thing.

Is your jaw hanging open? Did you see the part when she bent in half and then fell back to the floor (on purpose)? And then got up without using her arms while still managing to look graceful and sinewy? I mean, crap-on-a-cracker, man. The mind boggles. FYI, In Cover of Darkness Bryn does that same move (because she's got abs just like Rachel), using a blend of Egyptian and tribal styles in the scene where she's onstage performing for Dec in the crowded club. If that kind of display wouldn't raise a man's blood pressure, I don't know what would.

I'll probably post more about tribal style belly dance later, but I hope I've made you admire the sheer talent of these incredible dancers.


Mona Risk said...

Great dancing. I love belly dancing and can do a good job at it. You have a great performance here.

P.L. Parker said...

This woman is AMAZING! Back in my 30's and early 40's when I was really into belly dancing (tribal) - I had abs like that. I could balance a tray with stuff on it on my forehead, do a backbend without hands touching and touch the back of my head on the floor and get back up. I even have tattoos around my waist area - not as many as she does, but I do. Loved this post.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Obviously Rachel Brice has studied yoga and yoga breathing. She is really good, and reminds me of my former yoga breathing teacher. Also reminds me of a dance my heroine does for the hero in my upcoming September release THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE. Great blog post. Unlike Mona and P. L., I was never able to match this woman. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck with the your book!

Kaylea Cross said...

Hey, Mona. Good for you! I especially love belly dance because you get a hell of a workout and still have fun exercising.

P.L., seriously? I'm jealous! I think I'd break something if I ever tried it. That's amazing you had that kind of strength without losing your flexibility. My hat's off to you, woman!

Hi Caroline. Rachel is really into yoga. So neat about your upcoming release! Best of luck with it :)