In November 2010, I travelled to the Fat Chance Belly Dance® studio in San Fransisco to complete both levels of American Tribal Style® Teacher Training with FatChanceBellydance® founder and director, Carolena Nericcio.
At that time, I had the opportunity to apply for Sister Studio status, but I wanted to give myself some time to think about what I have learned, not just at teacher training, but across the five years that I have studied ATS®. Am I confident of my understanding of the format? Am I comfortable presenting the material and following the syllabus in the same way as the FCBD® studio? Am I 100% sure that I can present ATS® with integrity?
The answer to those questions is YES! I'm now an officially registered FCBD® Sister Studio. This means that by studying ATS® with me, you will get the quality of instruction consistent with what is presented by the "mothership" in San Fransisco.
I had the time to teach some classes and confirm to my satisfaction that FCBD's® format works, and it's a good fit for me. ATS® is all I want to teach. It's the type of dancing that I'm most passionate about, and it's my area of expertise. I don't feel the need to pull in other influences into my instruction. It's not that I never want to study or perform other styles of bellydance (and in fact, Verve has been doing a lot of experimentation lately), but I do want to be clear about when I'm doing ATS® and when I'm doing fusion. At a time when tribal fusion has gotten oh-so-fusiony, I think it's important to continue to stay grounded and continue to present the foundations, and for me, that is ATS®.
In addition, working with the newly-founded Transcendence Tribal Bellydance Collective has been a delightful experiment of ATS® in action. While we all have our own individual and separate troupe projects, we come together with the shared vocabulary of ATS®... and it totally works. Working with a large group means that we're able to put together longer and more spectacular sets that we'd never be able to do on our own. It's not just the number of bodies, it's the collective creative energy that magnifies the joy and power of the dance.
I feel like everyone, dancers and audience alike, should have the opportunity to experience that kind of magic through dance. I also believe that dedicated practice of a structured format is an excellent way to get that magic. With practice, all the vocabulary, the rules, and the philosophy become integrated into your body and mind. At that point, you will be able to be fully present in the moment with the music and your dance partners and the audience, and everyone will be elevated to a place of greater joy. Isn't that what dancing is all about?