Tribal Vision: A Celebration of Life Through Tribal Belly Dance
by Paulette Rees-Denis
Through the eyes, hips, and stories of Paulette Rees-Denis, an internationally known dancer, teacher, and producer, Tribal Vision shows us how women have learned to celebrate life and community in the fast-growing and immensely popular world of Tribal Bellydance.
There are few books about dance on the market, and none that takes us into the fascinating world of Tribal Bellydance with the primary innovator of the rapidly growing style. Tribal Vision not only tells Paulette’s stories, but also delves into the many reasons why women choose to dance this particular style. Tribal Vision explores the trancey and mesmerizing dance; the ethnic-to-groovy costuming and other opportunities that have given many women a chance to start their own business; the addictive spiritual, healing, and ritual aspects; but most importantly, the community experience of American Bellydance.
Through Paulette’s artistic vision and moving experiences, we see how tribal bellydance is a celebration of womanhood—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She has brought women together from around the world to dance and network with each other using the foundation of this ancient dance made contemporary.
Kudos for Paulette Rees-Denis – Tribal Vision I just received the book, Tribal Vision, by Paulette Rees-Denis. I have only yet read the first 3 chapters, but all I can say is, “WOW!” This is one of the most refreshing books I have read. It touches on many dance related subjects that are close to heart. It gives a nice history of American Tribal Style belly dance as well as Paulette’s own personal history. Tribal Vision also touches on belly dance classes, troupes, and the impact the dance has on women. Several personal insights by various dancers are given, along with beautiful, full-color pictures. This book is a must read for all belly dancers. It is also a very beautiful book and would just look absolutely gorgeous on any coffee table, but you MUST read it! I especially love the way she talks about the connection belly dance helps women make with themselves and others. A truly life-changing read.
*a must read for all dancers!
Pamela Smith Hill, an author and dancer, says about Tribal Vision:
Tribal Vision is an inspired, insightful, and important account of the origins of Tribal Belly Dance and the author’s personal journey through this brilliant and artistic community. Part of this dance movement from the beginning, Paulette Rees-Denis shares her vision of its past, present, and future. This is a deeply satisfying book for experienced dancers as well as new ones- – and for all readers who simply want to know more about a dance form that revolutionized the meaning of belly dance.
Reviewed in the Spring issue of FUSE Magazine 2011……Reviewed by Alexandra Lancette
I’ll admit that the first three or four times I picked this book up I did nothing but look at the photos. Even though I own The Tribal Bible–which is a pictorial buffet itself–the numerous gorgeous pictures in Tribal Vision were so fantastic that I had trouble reading the text. Every dancer I saw seemed clothed in layer upon layer of earthy, textured finery. While the Internet abounds with photographs of dancers, printed copies are rare. And color! They’re in color! Even the ones in black and white were so lush and inspiring that I picked my jaw up off the floor, grabbed for my sketch pad, and started drawing new costume and makeup ideas.
Once I was able to calm my visual center down enough to actually read the book, I was absolutely hooked. It was my first in-depth introduction to Paulette, as I come from a FatChance American Tribal Style (ATS) background. I knew nothing about her, and very little about Gypsy Caravan (her troupe) other than that it was another form of improvisational dance. The book begins with Paulette’s background, and then spreads out into many other aspects of the dance, including the history of ATS, costumes, performing, music, and teaching. Rather than serving as a how-to book, this text is more a moving, growing memoir infused with useful information for anyone interested in group improvisational dance.
Alongside Paulette’s words are snippets from her current and former students and troupemates. I found myself drawn into this sisterhood, feeling a connection to them even though our vocabularies are different, and wishing desperately that I could move to Portland to be a part of it all. The section on trance dancing was especially interesting. The link between movement and spirituality is undeniable, but I have always felt a personal resistance to it, not wanting to get too “hippie” with my dance. Paulette tempts me to give this a second thought, and to open myself to follow whatever path my dancing leads me to find.
I was also delighted to read about Paulette’s experiences as a teacher. This sort of firsthand account is, again, difficult to find. It was inspiring, to say the least, and made me appreciate the teachers I had worked with all the more. Tribal Vision is a wonderful book. For improvisational dancers, it provides a history as well as inspiration for the future. For non-improv dancers, it’s an interesting glimpse into the sisterhood. And did I mention the photos?
Marilyn J. Mcleod “Coach Marilyn” (San Diego)
Beautifully Produced Book! It’s evident the author took care when creating this work of art. Sharing her experience of tribal belly dance on so many levels, it’s both an introduction and guide to a beautiful tradition. Thank you, Paulette!
“Jess” (Minneapolis, MN)
Fantastic! Tribal belly dance is growing in my area like crazy, and this book was a fabulous introduction not only to the history of Tribal belly dance in the US, but to a dance philosophy I really admire. Paulette’s personal history is as fascinating as the journey of Tribal dance up the West Coast from California to Oregon. The pictoral sections give life and color to her history, and the sections focusing on community and teaching really spoke to me. I aspire to a similar dance philosophy in my own life: participating in a community where a strong sense of safe female expression is vital and experimentation in dance is encouraged. I’d recommend Tribal Vision to anyone interested in belly dance as a creative outlet or way of life.
Linda M. Holt “Amaryllis Dahlal” (Broken Arrow, OK USA)
Bravo to Paulette Rees-Denis. This wonderful book is full of magnificent photos and Paulette’s personal journey is the perfect book for any person who is interested in Tribal Belly Dance. This book is wonderful reading. I highly recommend adding it to your dance library.
A Belly Dancers “MUST HAVE”. This book is a definite must have for any belly dancer…..whether you are a follower of the Cabaret / Tribal, Gypsy or Fusion style of the dance there is something for everyone in this book. Paulette is one of the keepers of the dance…..Please don’t take me wrong there are others out there that are also keepers of the dance….Paulette is just one of them. With this book she lays it out….she draws you in…and allows you to feel the spirit of the dance. I have read this book many times since I bought it….I put on some Gypsy Caravan music and I open the book and step into the wonderful world of dance. Thank you Paulette. As Oliver once said….”Can I have some more….”
An email from book readers
Tracey wrote: “I began reading my copy of Tribal Vision today and got to the part where you said the troupe was dancing and zaghreeting & you heard a reply in the crowd, for some unknown reason it brought me to tears!!! I’m loving the words and the pictures. Thank you.”
Your book, Tribal Vision, has meant so much to me. I have smiled, laughed, and cried throughout the whole thing. Your words have been such a refreshing look at the dance for me, and I greatly needed it! Thanks so much! I think you are AWESOME!!!!
Sincerely, Zepora (Kara LeBleu)
“Paulette – I just received Tribal Visions for my birthday this week and I absolutely love it. It is such a beautifully written book, so full of passion and love for your craft. I found it so inspirational and I finally realise the effect that Tribal Bellydance has had on my development. Not a day goes by that I don’t acknowledge how lucky I am to have found this wonderful dance and an amazing group of women to share it with. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and stories.
Paulette, I started reading your book this evening and I have been up all night devouring it! It is so brilliant and divine, I can’t stand it! It is so fascinating to hear all about the path that lead you to where you are today. I love the pictures, your stories about learning, teaching, adornment and how the dance transforms women. Best of all is how you articulate the bliss and the soul of tribal style. I’m amazed to read your thoughts about the magical interaction and the co-creation that happens when a group of women dances in unison. The stories and quotes from your dancers all come from different perspectives (of course!), but together they give this really full picture of how unique and special our art is. This quality of tribal dance is something that for me, is such a deep and sensual experience I find it hard to put into words. But you’ve done it! Hurray! My only regret is that your book wasn’t published yet when I was writing my thesis. I was working with these concepts and there was nothing available at the time to use as source material that could really capture what I was trying to convey. Many congratulations and thanks for your beautiful creation…
With Love, Hilary
Tribal Vision – A Celebration of Life Through Tribal Bellydance by Paulette Rees-Denis
Cultivator Press, June 2008
This is not a ‘how-to-do’ instructional bellydance book, but a book that many long established dance teachers or even students may have thought about writing for themselves – your own story about your connection and love for your style of dance.
Some dance life stories of course have had more far-reaching impact and consequences than others on bellydancers, and Paulette Rees-Denis falls into this category. Being one of Carolena Nerricio’s first students we read her story in a very personal and story-telling style in the book. We hear of her introduction to dance in various formats, of meeting Carolena, developing her own tribal style and how she continues to build a dance community, not just in her own city but world-wide.
Through the book different aspects of tribal bellydance are presented whether its the music, other dancers, building community (in its widest sense), costuming, dance as a creative art or ritual and improvisation. These are key foundations of Tribal style dance through Paulette’s eyes. Paulette talks about acknowledging different cultures and backgrounds and melting them into an evolving dance form. She also talks about the journey her own troupe and band have made and they are accompanied by some great photographs throughout. There are also quotes from other teachers and students threaded throughout the book who share their thoughts, observations and feelings about tribal bellydance. These emphasise the power of the dance and its philosophy and approach and I felt made it more impactful.
I enjoyed the way the book was written and presented and the personal style it was written in, as well as the clear quality photographs. I am very familiar with Paulette’s style, Gypsy Caravan music and at times could hear Paulette’s voice talking me through her story in the book however I think any tribal dancer or curious bellydancer would be inspired or (re)inspired reading it.
The book is published by the creative Paulette’s own publishing company and also on quality recycled paper – 2 other reasons to admire a lady who practices what she preaches!
Available from www.Gypsycaravan.us or on Amazon $25.
By Deirdre, www.hipswithattitude.co.uk
other Great Book Reviews for Tribal Vision!
the Gilded Serpent, 12/08
Zaghareet Magazine October 2008
Jareeda Magazine, November 2008
Cultivator Press, 2008, ISBN 9780979160301
6 1/2” x 9” paperback, 1205 pp. color and black & white photos