Belly Dance with Ideas

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When I interviewed for OB, I remember the team saying, “Well, um, you certainly win the award for most unusual hobby.” I don’t think I’ve been beaten yet in my 2.5 years here, but as a challenge to Team OB: I’m happy to be upstaged 😉

I’ve been a tribal belly dancer for over 10 years now, with my interest ignited back when I was at school by a workshop from the wonderful Angela Noble of Tribe Zuza. While I dabbled in all sorts of sub-styles at Uni as President of the African and Arabic Dance Society, when I came back to Newcastle I returned to my roots as a student of ATS: American Tribal Style Ⓡ and FatChanceBellyDance Ⓡ.


Dancing with my class at a local hafla: credit to Andrea Robertson for this pic.

Now, when most people think of belly dance they think of bright shiny colours and sparkly outfits – and while this is true of some styles, which are beautiful forms of dance, that’s not ATS. For tribal, think tattoos, drums, dreadlocks and swords…and plenty of attitude!

Being so passionate about ATS, I wanted to bring a flavour of it to OB – and what better forum than Beers with Ideas. One Friday, we grabbed a beer and got to shimmying.

There are many advantages to trying out ATS as a team:

  • To test your teamwork: when ATS dancers perform, they’re like a hypnotising shoal of fish – the dancer in the lead position makes cues with their movements, and everyone follows. As the dance progresses, the leader changes and everyone takes their turn in leading the tribe.
  • To relax and focus the mind: there is no choreography in ATS, it’s all about the here and now.
  • To include all ages and abilities: ATS can be taught at a flexible level, including and adapting to everyone who wants to give it a go.

sophie sword bwisword bwi

Sophie and me trying our hand (well, our head) at sword balancing in the Tribal Dance Beers with Ideas session.

Our ATS workshop was great fun, and we loved trying out the sword balancing (with specially prepared blunt swords, of course). If you’re interested in giving ATS a go, and live in the Newcastle or Northumberland area – head on over to Tribe Zuza’s website to take a gander at class times and locations.


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Friday 16th October

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