By Jenny Purdue
A dazzling array of color and sound: On Saturday, July 24, at 7pm, inspired movement will meet Middle Eastern music in a sumptuous display of belly dance in the Santa Ana theater of the public library of San Miguel de Allende. Tribal Style Belly Dance is a fusion of folkloric and contemporary dances from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, North Africa, Northern and Eastern India, and the Gypsy trail. This mixture of exotic cultures and ethnic styles of dance steps and costumes makes for an entrancing experience. Hand-embroidered silks, weighty tribal jewelry, and strong, elegant postures reminiscent of Flamenco combine to present an image of dignity, sensuality, spirituality, beauty, and strength.
In Libelula Estudio de Danza in San Miguel de Allende, dancers come from all over Mexico to study Tribal Style belly dance, which is unique because it is group improvisation. Like partner dancing, the dancers rely on physical and verbal cues to change steps, pulling from a vocabulary with similar isolations to other styles of belly dance though often specific to Tribal Style. When this style of improvisation is performed by a cohesive, experienced group, an exciting sense of community is enjoyed by the dancers and the audience.
Belly dancing, like Flamenco, has obscure and ancient roots. Both originated on the “Gypsy Trail” near India—one part moving toward the Balkans and the other traveling to Morocco. This explains the frequently Spanish-Moorish look to some of the dancer’s costumes.
Elsanne Barrows teaches a recognized teacher training for this style of dance called “Maestras del Tribal.” This year, graduates of the program hail from Mexico City, Morelia, Toluca, Tijuana, Ensenada, Ciudad Obregon, Durango, and San Miguel de Allende. The Graduation Gala, crowning the course and celebrating the achievement, will present an intricate performance of color, fabrics, and gorgeous arm and body movements at the Santa Ana Theater on July 24.