Tribal Bellydance in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Our approach to improvisation

NorthWind grew out of an experimental class where a group of enthusiastic dancers came together to try to understand Tribal Belly dance and make it work for them. Initially the group worked on basic Gypsy Caravan moves, but as our access to the authentic style was via videos and very occasional workshops (often with people who had learned second-hand themselves) there were the inevitable mistakes along the way.

Over the past ten years our style has evolved into what it is today. Some of our mistakes and misunderstandings have been straightened out – others we have hung onto as we have come to value our own way of doing things and the variations we have developed.

While acknowledging the ideal of a common core of moves that allow groups across the world to potentially dance together – we also want to develop  our own creative ability and feel what we do has its own validity and strength. We are our own tribe, not a clone of something from thousands of miles away. We are happy to share and learn from other groups and methods and acknowledge the source of what we do. But we are content to do what we do and don’t feel the need to be validated by some remote authority.

For a long while doing improvisation was not a favourite thing. Many of the women who formed the initial group were strictly hobby dancers who had neither the time nor inclination to put in the ground work necessary for successful structured improvisation techniques.

We developed a system of ‘whole move’ choreography where as far as possible dances are constructed from whole and unaltered basic moves so that a dance could be learned in class or could be followed by those who know the basic move library. This has the benefit of allowing the student to learn moves and cues in context as well as allowing groups to perform more audience-appealing dances -  at least with more appeal and polish than are often the product of poor quality improvising.

More recently the concept of improvising is beginning to be of interest and this is developing naturally without being forced onto the unwilling. For the moment we are using this as a way of ‘jamming’ in informal sessions rather than as performance, but who knows where we will end up.