There are no tribal fusion teachers running regular classes in Edinburgh to the best of my knowledge.  Happily, though, Laura Monteith of Sarasvati Tribal runs tribal fusion workshops for the University of Edinburgh’s African & Arabic Dance Society.  Here’s a pic of Laura, and a pic of her troupe (which, incidentally, Tigerlily is a member of):

You can find the schedule of these workshops in the Edinburgh Bellydance Calendar.  They are split into a beginners session, 12noon til 1pm and then an intermediates session from 1-3pm. 

The beginners part of the workshop involved a fair amount of yoga, which I really enjoy (especially as I’ve gotten out of the habit of regular yoga practice).  Sadly there are no yoga mats in the room the society use, and the floor is a bit dirty, so it’s not ideal.  That said the fabric of the floor is such that you don’t really slip on it so the lack of a mat isn’t a big deal, and I could always bring my own – actually yes, if you are thinking of coming along to future sessions, and have a mat you should probably bring it along.

The other part of the beginners session involved drilling a bit of technique; this time we did “hip work on the up and down” (which feels to me like a more muscular version of hip drops/down and lifts) in addition to chest lifts and drops.  It’s always good to drill this stuff and it’s nice when someone else “makes” you.  Laura gave us some combos (which had me giggling when I messed them up) and that was the beginners class!

In the intermediate session we focused on tribal fusion drum solos, which was a student request from last term.  Laura spoke at length and on multiple occasions, explaining different aspects of bellydance & musical theory, explaining her perceptions on the differences between traditional and tribal fusion bellydance, pointing us towards good performance DVDs to demonstrate different styles, offering a detailed breakdown of moves when one of us would query something, as well as just a general bit of banter.  She was accompanied by her troupe mate Ali who demonstrated the movements at the other end of the room, a technique Laura used the last time I was at one of her workshops (that time she had Tigerlily with her) and I think is marvellous!  The room shape is a rectangle with the mirrors along the long side.  By having two people at the front demo-ing it makes it far easier for all the students to be able to see clearly what’s going on and utilise the mirrors.

She played us a specific piece of music for the drum solo and broke the music down for us.  She introduced, explained and taught us several combinations that comprised the majority of a routine for the solo (a routine that she had improvised as we went along in the class), and left approximately the last 30s of the song for us to make our own way with.  We learned the combinations, put them together and practised them a bit at a time then danced the whole thing through several times.  We ended the session with yoga (and afterwards I apologised for my short attention span that had me jiggling about or practising moves and combos several times while she spoke – which happily she was totally cool with.  I kind of thought she would be as there were a couple of other people in the class doing the same, but figured better safe than sorry – I don’t like to offend).

One of the things Laura shared with us was her thoughts on the different use of space, and moving the body through space, in tribal fusion and more traditional types of bellydance.  It’s a distinction that hadn’t occurred to me before.  I’ve been aware of the different dance moves such as the Maya and the Oomi (mentioned previously here), differing use of arms, the extreme back-bends, locks & pops, etc.  but the notion of space is a new way of thinking about it for me.  Creeping or jerking into space is certainly very tribal (and dark) fusion.  Below is a video of Zoe Jakes, a dancer that alongside her super-fast spins incorporates alot of ‘jerking’ into space:

And lastly (my this post has gotten long!) here’s a video of Laura performing solo.