» » » » History of FatChanceBellyDance & American Tribal Style Bellydance

History of FatChanceBellyDance & American Tribal Style Bellydance

I am loving that Habibi has been digitizing their articles and putting them in an online archive. THANK YOU!  Here is snippets from a gem from 1999, a history of American Tribal Style written by Kajira Djoumahna of BlackSheep Bellydance:


“I believe what people remember most from these influential beginnings is more a certain feeling derived from watching Bal Anat, as the ancient roots of past and present cultures seemed to be evoked. The colorful costumes and facial tattoos worn by many of the dancers seemed to recall a tribal culture, whether or not they were truly authentic. We must try to keep in context the fact that during this time the world, and especially San Francisco, was on the cutting edge of experimentation, undergoing a modern renaissance if you will. It was a time different from any other in our history as far as creative energy and limitless horizons. Add to that the fact that Jamila is an excellent show person, knows how to set an entertaining stage, and how to keep an audience enthralled, and it is no wonder her ideas were so successful ­— and still legendary even thirty years later.”

“Carolena took ideas from Masha’s classes, Jamila’s approach and her own sense of style and began working on what would become the primary interpretation of American Tribal Style Bellydance we know today. I asked Carolena whether Masha’s style, or Carolena’s American Tribal Style, had anything to do with Jamila Salimpour’s format.


‘I’ve never met Jamila, and I’ve never studied with her, but from everything that I can see from people who have studied in the Jamila school, it’s definitely the same base. I didn’t see exactly what happened, but I feel Masha was an artist who studied with Jamila, saw what Jamila was doing, and put her own signature on top of it. I saw what Masha was doing and I put my signature on top of that. I can still see the clear connections. I’ve read interviews with Jamila, and I’ve listened to how she put things together, and it all makes sense. She (Jamila) came from a circus background, and was really into presenting a show. Masha was an artist who was really into presenting a design, so I can see where I got my theory of presentation. I would definitely credit it to Jamila. Maybe someday I’ll get to meet her. I’d like to thank her in person!’

(Shay’s note: Incidentally, Carolena has still never met or had a chance to thank Jamila personally–something Jamila made a point to mention to me when I met and talked with her at her week-long intensive in 2009… I truly hope they get a chance to connect someday!)

A lot more great stuff to read at the full article here:

And this was built off of an article that Kajira conducted in 1996, the full interview which can be found at http://www.blacksheepbellydance.com/writings/files/carolena.html

Want to learn even more fabulous ATS history? 
Join us for I *heart* ATS Month: A Tribal Intensive, which begins next weekend!  The first workshop will include a presentation on the history of tribal bellydance (complete with a projector and everything!), followed by a comprehensive Level 1 Foundations technique workshop.

I *heart ATS is comprised of two hour workshops every Sunday evening during the month of February, focusing on ATS®-based group improvisational bellydance and its fusion offshoots. We will spend time on strength and flexibility work, individual movement technique, partner concepts, history, costuming, and more.

Full details and registration at Our Workshop Page

Long past, now. Catch this topic another time!

Follow Shay:

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.

One Response

  1. […] A Brief History by Deep Roots Dance […]

Leave a Reply