by Wendy Shortman / Vanguard staff
Gypsies: Jingly outfits and swirling skirts are all part of the package when you see Gypsy Caravan’s celebration of tribal dance.
You may have heard of them. You may have seen them, but this is the kind of show you can’t see just once. Inspired by, and based on “different styles of Middle Eastern dance, flamenco, Indian classical dance and modern dance,” as explained by the founder of the Gypsy Caravan Dance Company herself, Paulette Rees-Denis, this unique performance will surely seduce you and your senses.
Rees-Denis, creator and innovator of the Gypsy Caravan, got her master’s here at Portland State in writing and publishing. She recently published a book about the new form of tribal dance.
The book, entitled Tribal Vision: a Celebration of Tribal Belly Dance, provides the meaning and significance of the new dance style.
Rees-Denis, whose company has been based in Portland since 1991, has been a dancer all her life and finds it to be an important aspect in the celebration of the feminine community.
“It’s important that we dance as women today,” Rees-Denis said. “It’s a community-based dance, and it’s really about dancing as a group.”
The book about this style has been an ongoing process.
“I’ve been writing it for years,” Rees-Denis said. “It’s part memoir, my dance history and the history of the tribal style of belly dance and how it evolved, and what it means.”
The book talks about the feminine and communal nature of the dance, “and it also includes other women’s experiences [with the dance], it’s really important and it’s very profound.”
The tribal dance style is also unique in the sense that it’s unpredictable.
“They’re not really choreographed. The dance is based on improvisation, it’s a structured language of movements but it’s based on dancer’s attitude, inspiration at the time, music and audience,” Rees-Denis said. “The dancers feel like it’s a gift that they give to the viewers.”
With this kind of format, every performance is different, so even if you’ve seen them before, you can get a new experience out of it every time.
“It’s about being in the moment,” said Rees-Denis, whose company offers tribal belly dance lessons. “It’s for all ages and all sizes, it’s not discriminatory and it’s really fun!”
This was in the paper about a show we were going to do! What fun to read what others say about you, and how others view you. That’s all!