From Tribal Bellydance as a Dance to Tribal bellydance as Philosophy of life
by Cinzia Di Cioccio
Tribal Bellydance is more than a Dance, it becomes a Philosophy of life.
Technically we are talking about a fusion dance that merge elements from Middle Eastern bellydance, Indian dance, Spanish flamenco, North-African dances, trance dances and contemporary dance and that becomes an improvised but structured language by a group of dancers.
Through my personal experience I can say that this dance offers much more to the people who practice it: a a broader vision of life to live peacefully and responsibly in everyday relationships.
Often I think back to a phrase that I have been told often by my teacher Paulette Rees-Denis: “I wish to help you to be the best dancer you can be”. This is her mission. I would add that in addition to making me a better dancer, she has helped to make me a better person.
Reflecting on the ethical and spiritual journey I have undertaken in recent years, during which I made choices dictated by my own “search” for life, I think if I had not met Paulette Rees-Denis my human journey would have been different.
Paulette has taught me to trust myself, to look ahead, to be creative and develop my potential. Through Paulette’s tribal bellydance intensive certification program, Collective Soul (name chosen not by chance), I have grown as a dancer and performer technically and humanly as a person. I learned to not be competitive, to seek a form of communion with people who may be very different from me, to develop relationships with myself and with the others, through both the body and the spirit.
These concepts are very deep, because we humans are an active part of the universe along with all other living beings.
Tribal bellydance, as I was taught by Paulette, is exactly that: to be part of a whole where each particle and each living creature has its own importance because it contributes to the harmony of the Whole, or the Tribe. When we dance and improvise together, at that moment I forget who I am, I am in trance, entranced; my being is in full, cheerful, and complete harmony with my Tribe, those whom I am dancing with in that time and space.
When we dance everyone always has a dual role: leader and follower. Being a leader means taking responsibility, leading the group in respect of the elements who compose it, trying to create unity, synchronicity, and well-being among each other. Being a follower means having confidence in the leader, not to challenge their decisions, to let go of ego, and follow with commitment and serenity.
From dance we can learn to put aside our egos in everyday life and have a more peaceful, mature, and knowledgeable attitude about life. If we find ourselves in situations of disharmony maybe we should ask ourselves if we are responsible for the situation: perhaps our small, individual ego is thinking only about itself—it is not taking the responsibility to be leader and does not have the humility to follow with confidence.
Often we look to the Other as responsible for our own discomfort, placing blame on someone else, and we do not realize that the change depends on us. If we lived like we dance in tribal bellydance, with the idea that life is a continual seesaw of moments in which we follow and we lead with the idea of harmony, tensions and conflicts would be minimized because all would have worked to accomplish a common project.
Tribal bellydance is more than just a dance: it is a philosophy of life based on respect, love, joy, and devotion towards life and all living beings. It ‘a celebration of life.
Translated from Italian! Cinzia lives and teaches in Milan, Italy, tours with her contemporary tribal troupe Les Soeurs Tribales, and is a member of Paulette’s troupe Gypsy Caravan Dance Company, International.