This past weekend on the Seattle Center campus was the Cues & Tattoos festival, hosted by Troupe Hipnotica, and is the braindchild of Adriene Rice and Julia Demarest. It focuses on stylistic variations which are rooted in the original American Tribal Style concept of group improvisational dance. With the mass proliferation of all things being called “tribal” these days, the beautiful and dynamic art of group improv was being buried and misunderstood. Adriene and Julia saw a need and they have met it beautifully for three years in a row–much to my delight, right here in my own back yard in Seattle–with Cues & Tattoos.
The time and organization it takes to host a festival is enormous–take a local hafla and explode it about a thousandfold! These ladies, with the help of their fellow troupe-mates and other volunteer staff, have turned this labor of love into a festival to rival many more established festivals in the community. And it promises to just keep getting better.
As if seeking out some of the best instructors and performers the art form has to offer, flying them here, taking care of them, and providing space for them to share their knowledge and wisdom isn’t enough, the festival also offers two unique evenings of performance, and a roomful of drool-worthy vendors. The event runs smoothly and professionally, with very little left to be desired (Afterparty! Better signage at workshops?).
I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach and perform all three festival years and have seen the thoughtful way these ladies have continued to recognize areas which need attention, and by the next year have adapted and improved upon what they had done before. Though surely overwhelmed with all the daily demands of the event (plus teaching their own workshops, plus performing themselves!), they always appear calm and collected, and make time to really see and hear their guests and meet their needs. Case-and-point: when I jammed up to her table breathlessly but urgently blurting out, “This isn’t their music!!” as my student troupe was taking the stage to the wrong soundtrack, Adriene displayed calm and good humor while we fixed the situation. Her willingness to just smile and make adjustments is an example of the level of professionalism and composure that permeated the event.
For years I have spent thousands of dollars to travel thousands of collected miles to try and study with these incredible instructors in other cities and at other festivals. This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting people who had flown here to the Northwest from a half-dozen other states–from as far as Florida!–to do the same. And I and my troupe-mates and students for once had only to drive twenty minutes to be in a room studying with the likes of Carolena Nericcio of FatChance in California, and Sahira and Zymirrah of Urabn Gypsy in Texas, among many other admirable masters of tribal bellydance. The Seattle bellydance community should be thankful and proud of what these women have brought to our doorstep, and we should endeavor to support them in their efforts so it can continue well into the future. I look forward to seeing how the event grows and adapts over the years to meet the needs of the community it reaches out to. Many thanks, Adriene, Julia, and Troupe Hipnotica, for all your hard work and organization, bringing us yet another stellar year.
Did you attend C&T 2010 and have feedback for Adriene and Julia for future years? Want to share something you really loved about it? Something you feel could be improved or added? Suggestions for teachers or workshop topics? Questions about next year? Contact them at email@example.com. They want to hear from you!