Inspiration: TerziMoirai at Tribal Remix 2014

This week, our ATS class started learning (or reviewing) Dueling Duets. What are they? An ATS formation where a standard 4-formation transitions into two duets facing each other. You can see a great example in the video below, from the 2:45 mark onwards. I loved this performance, I was there for it and it was *so* energetic and the connection between the dancers was great.

Inspiration: Kae Montgomery and Daruma Dance Collective

I am still trying to sort things out in my head from Tribal Remix, and feasting on Tribal Fest videos, so I thought I would post something completely different in the meantime… trust me, both places have offered enough videos for quite a couple of months!

I loved how this looks: transitions are great, the stage dynamics are brilliant, everything is energetic and plain lovely. As always, watch here or head over to YouTube for the HD version.
Enjoy!

ATS Official Book, FINALLY!

American Tribal Style Classic vol1 book coverYes, I haven’t updated in over a month. Bad girl, no biscuit. Been doing a few things, and will post about it soon, I promise. However, what I wanted to share today is sort of time sensitive.

Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman and Kristine L. Adams have finally released the first volume of their American Tribal Style series books. And luckily, they’ve embraced the new formats, so it is available as an epub, and as print-on-demand, which means that the shipping charges are *reasonable*. So far so good, but what’s the hurry? Well, if you’ve got an account with Lulu (the publisher), they’ve released 20% discount coupons earlier today, which means you can get the book with a considerable discount, and yes, this is valid for the e-book version too.

The e-book version is not only economical, but also, at least for me, easier to access and take along… I could have a copy on my phone when going to class in case there are questions. I could read it on the train, and I won’t need to worry about carrying around a heavy book, or reading in bed until it falls on my head. Lulu sells it as an epub, but if you use the popular Amazon Kindle, it can be converted using programs like Calibre. Kindle’s MOBI format doesn’t allow for colour images, and there’s plenty in the book, but you’ll still see them in greyscale, so the e-book is a great choice.

Will this book “teach” you ATS? No. This book was obviously planned as a companion to each of the ATS DVD volumes (they are now on #9) and should go as a companion either for regular classes or DVD training. By all means, get it if you want to take a closer look at what it is about, but don’t expect just this to be usable as your sole “teacher”. Some things you can sort of figure out, but some, like the Lotus Hand, hardly make any sense through a written description.

The *one* downside I can see is that the book is disappointingly short, coming just at 49 pages, and covering just *some* of the foundation steps that are covered on a 6-week ATS course. The printed book lists 68 pages, which is 18 more than the e-book, but I won’t have access to a printed version for a while to compare, so for the time being, my comment about the length stands. Most glaring omissions are the Circle Step and Hand Floreos, and there doesn’t seem to be any word on zills or formations. So basically they’ve stuck to what is covered in the original Vol.1 DVD. To be honest with you, more ground is covered in Carolena’s earlier book, The Art of Belly Dance, but it has now been out of print for quite a while, and fetching ridiculous prices, so this is a good alternative. Personally, I wish the book covered the “Classic” ATS taught in Levels 1-2, with far more information, regardless of how the DVDs are organised, but I understand why they decided to organise things this way.

So, the million dollar question… should you get it? Depends. If you

  • are thinking of (or already) teaching ATS
  • are already learning ATS and want to have some things in writing to complement your class
  • are already learning another ITS or Tribal style

then the answer is probably yes. I would, however, go for the e-book version, both for cost and convenience’ sake. If, however, you

  • do Cabaret/Egyptian, and want to find out what the fuss about Tribal is about
  • like the idea of belly dancing but don’t know where to start
  • have specific requirements (i.e. health concerns, joint issues, etc)
  • are a “show me, don’t tell me” person

you will be much better served heading towards a class to have a teacher guide you.
You can get the American Tribal Style Classic: Vol. 1 from Lulu

Old School ATS belt and bra set, part 2: the making

Silver and black bra Work in progressNow that I had all the bits together, it was time to start assembling. I first decided on a set decoration pattern to use for both bra and belt, using the braided black and silver trim for the top edges, followed by the rectangular Kuchi trinkets, then the Turkomen dangling buttons. It took a while to decide how to arrange those as they were not all the same, but in the end I settled on an 8-small-1-big pattern for the belt, and all jewelled ones for the bra. Silver and black bra close-upI flattened the few mangled trinkets using pliers, and for the bra, removed all the original stones and replaced them with AB Swarovskis in Cobalt and Siam to add more sparkle. The Turkomen buttons have the loops inside the domes and are rather difficult to attach directly, so I opted for stringing them on a double rattail cord before attaching the cord itself to the pieces.

Silver and black belt detailThe process was simplesimple but laborious, using extra-strong Gutterman thread. It didn’t help that I run out of the special thread after just finishing the first cup of the bra, and had to wait a few days to get more. Since both items had the same design, the process was roughly the same for both. The braid consists of 9 separate strands, so to keep it attached properly I had to sew it by hand, making sure top and bottom loops were sewn, and that the stitch also secured the strands passing under the top strand. On the belt, I sewed the trim using the machine, but on the bra cups, I had to do it by hand, in both cases making sure I kept to the very edge of the trim to avoid obscuring the silver design. Then added the rectangle metal trinkets. After these, I attached the 4-strand braided cord to each end of the belt, making sure it was firmly in place by stitching both sides of the cord for each loop, to prevent it from breaking off, as the final result would have quite a bit of weight. Then I added the Banjara mirrors to each end, and continue on adding the threaded Turkomen buttons to each piece, with a spiral stitch holding the cords in place and limiting the sideways movement of the buttons.

SIlver and black belt, ends close-upAt this point, I focused entirely on the belt. I lined the inside with a piece of black polycotton broderie anglaise, then picked a couple of tassels, sewed them to the fastening cords, and finished it all off with some Moroccan Mozumas to add a bit of extra metallic sparkle to it. But I still had 8 tassels left, so I used the leftover rattail to make another 4-stand braid, then knotted the tassels with their long cord, and sewed them in place, then added two small bits of cord to the inside of the belt to knot this tassel cord in place. This way, I can use it or remove it as needed.

Silver and black belt and bra, work in progressThe cost of the whole set came roughly to £60, but needed 40+ hours of work. Nearly all of the metal trinkets came from Birgiss Bellywear, the lovely trim was bought from Grand Bazaar, a Turkish manufacturer via Ebay, and the rattail, braid and cord were also eBay finds. Considering a typical “vintage Kuchi belt” at several places starts at £30 or so, and with my hips I’d need two of them to assemble something with the coverage of this one, and would still require all the work, I don’t think it was that bad. Even less when taking into account that bra cups are exactly to my measures and with the right support, straps won’t dig into my shoulders, and back band fits perfectly too. And it means that now I’ve got a rather “traditional” ATS set that I can wear with all my skirts, without worrying that the trim or stones or base colour of the belt will clash with any of colours of my wardrobe. Granted, I’ve removed all of the colour that the belts can add, replacing it with an abundance of sparkle and metallic detail, but my skirts are all rather intense colours anyway.

I am, overall, extremely pleased with the results, and I can’t wait to wear the lot. I hope I can take some photos with a full set soon enough, my idea is to use these two with black and white loons, layered sea-green and purple 25-yarders, the ivory and silver flowers shawl I crocheted a few weeks ago, and the purple stretch velvet choli I made and wore for the ATS World Wide Flash Mob. And of course I can’t wait to see how it will look with a mermaid skirt, or some ruffled or tribal dance trousers. SIlver and black belt, finished

Old School ATS belt and bra set, part 1: the gathering

I’ve been accumulating bits and bobs for tribal since I started dancing, and finally I’ve got everything I need. I am attending an ATS residential in January, there’s the chance of performing, and I wanted something 100% neutral so I could keep as a staple regardless of colours for cholis/skirts. Which trust me, was a difficult thing to do, considering that most tribal belts and pieces come with a rather colourful mix including, very often, complementary colours (red and green seems to be a favourite). But since my skirts so far range from sea green to purple to red, I wanted something I could use with ANYTHING, and so it had to be purely black/white/silver. And the reason I am calling it “old school ATS” is because I wanted to go as close as I could to the typical tribal belts I’ve seen online and up close, with plenty of ethnic pieces to give the right vibe, and trying to ignore as much as I can my usual penchant for using pieces outside the box.

I’ve already done the bases. The belt is fairly standard, this time it’ll be a single piece. I’ve used a double layer of calico and demin to give it strength and sturdiness and prevent stretching; I didn’t make the ends meet at the centre but opted instead to finish them off around my hipbones, to add big banjara mirrors as accents on the ends. I will be using grey and black cord to create ties, and finishing them off with dark grey and silver tassels. The bra is already half covered, I’ll make it with cross-straps again as that gives me the best support, although I haven’t decided yet whether it’ll be tied as the teal one or hooked as the black and red one.

Current plan is to machine-stitch the braid and trim to the belt, and then sit down with everything over several nights and attach all the more difficult bits and pieces. I just hope it doesn’t end being too heavy for the cord I chose.

The leftovers -and there will be leftovers- are currently planned for a short (3/4 length) Ghawazee cover up in a similar theme: black crushed velvet, with silver accents, so I can use over any of my costumes.

In the photo, from top left, clockwise in a spiral:
cotton velvet-covered bra (just cups so far), Turkomen dangle buttons, silver and black braid, silver and black Turkish trim, shisha mirrors, mini-dome Turkomen buttons, hand-beaded WIP trim for edges, round metal trinkets, black cotton velvet belt base (barely visible, it is *that* dark!), rectangular metal trinkets, big banjara mirrors.

Costume bits and bobs

Costume bits and bobs

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