It has long been a hot topic in the bellydance world: how much fusion is too much fusion? When has something been so far removed from its root that it no longer belongs in the same category? Not everyone agrees as to where the line should be drawn in the case of tribal fusion, but absent of a moratorium on popping and locking and “broken robots” electronica, the yin and the yang of the universe tends to balance itself out naturally over time. Some call it the “pendulum”–a vast arc of artistic possibilities, ranging from fiercely traditional to wildly new, which swings reliably from one end to the other. The pendulum of the tribal fusion world has been slowly swinging back toward the cabaret end of the spectrum for years, and is showing up in costume, music, and stylization choices at festivals around the world.
Blogger and dancer extraordinaire, Asharah, wrote about her recent experience on her blog “Bellydance Paladin”:
“When I performed at TribalCon in 2010, I wore a “tribaret” costume, and danced to Arabic music: a qanun taqsim and a drum solo. At the time, I, too, was returning to my American Cabaret roots, but I also wanted my performance to reflect the workshop I taught at TribalCon that year which focused on the Salimpour legacy in tribal style belly dance, including the seminal Jamila Salimpour belly dance format. I distinctly remember being a bit, well, misunderstood. People said I was too sparkly, and thought it was odd that I would do a “cabaret” performance, especially at a tribal event. Personally, I don’t think that performance was straight up “cabaret”; if it were, I would have danced to different music, such as, say, “Aziza” or “Habibi Ya ‘Aini”. But, as we all are, I was immediately labeled, and I believe that many of my followers felt I was betraying my “dark fusion” self for a happier, sparklier dancer (who was always there, but most people had not seen me dance in my earlier, more oriental days).”
Read more on her blog to see what she thinks is the driving force behind this shifting back to more “traditional” aesthetics.
And here is the video Asharah references of Datura’s performance at Tribal Fest: