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A Not So Radical Idea (ATS Old School vs. New School)

posted in: American Tribal Style | 1

I am definitely seeing and hearing a lot of confusion and frustration and fear surrounding the old vs. new announcement made this week. And I completely understand the mix of emotions this is stirring up. BUT…

Maybe (it’s worth trying at least…) if we concentrate on the spirit of the announcement–the idea that dancing should be fun and creative and empowering, not super-strict and limited and single-pathed (hey I made up a word!)–we can manifest it in ourselves and in the community. 

I know that sounds really Pollyanna, and it will not make all of our mixed and confused feelings go away, but think of it as a meditative practice to help come to a place of balance as everyone is hammering out their feelings.

I humbly suggest that we attempt to push our energies to the positive and exciting possibilities this creates within the artform. Think of it in a bigger picture than our own personal understanding and desires, and more about what this will enable and empower the community at large to build upon… Rather than think of the worst case scenarios of abuse and misrepresentation of the name and art we are so quick to envision; instead think of the BEST case scenario, where incredible fresh ideas flow and beautiful art is made over and over again on this base we all love so much! Where both those who choose to uphold the common standards of the classic form and those who respectfully build upon it can be equally embraced and encouraged.

Rather than picture it as another divide, think of the ways in which it will bring people in closer and encourage them to be a part of the “family”, with all our individual beauty and flaws we bring to our dance vision.

There will always be people who don’t “get it”, and will, intentionally or unintentionally, misrepresent ATS in name and in spirit. But let’s not allow ourselves to dwell on that small group. Let’s look at the larger community of intensely passionate, incredibly creative, and humbly grateful dancers who can do so much to keep the spirit of ATS alive, whether it be old school or new.

I think we should still feel free to talk about the ways in which people feel upset, and explore the ramifications of this decision from all angles. But I offer this suggestion to help us move gracefully through personal emotions and maybe help us be more zen about things as we endeavor to understand the bigger picture.

I can only imagine this positive, encouraging slant is just what Carolena had in mind when she made this decision. And I hope we can find a way to support her in that, even as we try to come to terms with other more challenging thoughts.

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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    I think, now that I have had time to digest, I’m not as afraid as I initially was. I’ve talked through it with others and ATS is art and art is ever evolving. I think having the blessing of the Creator of an art form say “it’s ok… let it evolve” is actually an amazing thing.

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