American Tribal Style® bellydance (also known as ATS®) is a modern ethnic fusion style of bellydance based on an adaption of the folkloric dances and ancient dance techniques of North Africa, Spain, North India and the Middle East.
American Tribal Style® is a carefully stylized bellydance format characterized by a confident and upright, open posture with finger cymbals self-accompaniment. What characterizes the dance style is the concept of group improvisation. Through the non-verbal communication of movements and gestures, the group dance together as a unit without using choreography. The group is creating art right on the spot and no two performances are the same.
The concept of American Tribal Style® bellydance was developed by Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance®. She has created a unique system of cues, formations and steps. It combines movement vocabularies and regional costuming to form one cohesive presentation.
American Tribal Style® dancers often use finger cymbals and sword and veil are other attributes, but the focus is on the group. American Tribal Style® does feature solos within the group as well as call-and-answer performance with another dancer (duets), or as a whole group. Often there is a chorus which provides a “drone” in the background while the featured pod is the focal point. Both the pod and the chorus are improvised in the moment. Staging for the pod and the chorus is formalized within the ATS® form to maximize dancer visibility on behalf of the audience and likewise maximizing group visibility of the leader.
The style is characterized by costumes derived from many folkloric sources and is often composed of large tiered skirts, a short choli / top often with a plunging neckline, a visible bra decorated with coins and textiles, hip scarf with yarn tassles or fringe, a heavy layering of oxidized silver jewelry and turbaned head.
In the recent years it has been a trend that many troupes have gone toward the flower hair gardens and half turbans leaving their hair on display. Turbans can be both hot and uncomfortable, but the turban gives a group a more regal, elegant and especially unified appearance onstage.
The jewelry commonly originates from Central Asia, from any number of nomadic tribes or empires e.g. Kuchi, Turkoman, Rajasthan and is often large and set with semi-precious stones or glass stones. Dancers frequently “tattoo” their faces with kohl or kajal. Make-up is usually eye focused with heavy use of kajal.
Sources: fcbd.com, wikipedia.com