Pedralta World Fusion®

Belly dance, Pedralta World Fusion ®, American Tribal Style® - What's the difference?

Belly dance

Belly dance is a very lose term used to describe dances originating in the Middle East and North Africa, though their origins could be world-wide.

Our stereotypical image of this dance comes from movies or foreign holidays. In the West, we mainly envisage a solo dancer in a bedleh (two piece bra and belt set) with a floaty chiffon skirt. This dress style was heavily influenced by the emergence of the cinema in Egypt during the 1950's. As the dance originated with itinerant dancers, they previously used whatever was available for costuming, often carrying their wealth on their person, in the form of jewellery.

There are many different forms of this dance. They include Raqs Shaki developed in the 1940's night-clubs of Cairo, Baladi (of my country), referring to the dances common to a certain area or tribal group, Dabka and other line dances, Saaidi is danced by men or women, mimicking a form of martial art, using a stick.

These dances are either choreographed for a group of dancers or take the form of an improvised or choreographed solo.

For more on the history of bellydance see Middle Eastern Dance

Pedralta World Fusion® Dance

Pedralta World Fusion

(Pedralta World Fusion Tuition, click here)

(Costume, click here)

Whereas ATS dancers use only a single vocabulary of generic moves and combinations whatever the style of music, Pedralta World Fusion® Dance uses a basic ATS format but different vocabularies of movements to interpret particular musical styles and to correspond more closely to the cultural roots of the music.

For example when dancing to Spanish fusion music Pedralta dancers would use ATS basics such as Arabics (trad.Camels), Egyptians, Hip Bumps( trad. Hip Lift) and shimmies (see our DVD) combined with a palette of Flamenco-inspired movements and combinations developed by Donna Gardner for improvised group dance. A Banjara-inspired ATS move such as re-shamka would not be used.

Specific movement palettes are developed for props such as shawl, stick (where saaidi moves and combinations feature strongly) and even movements for dancing with a frame drum.

Stick dance Frame drum dance

When you learn Pedralta World Fusion® style you get not only a thorough grounding in ATS, but you learn an extensive and unique additional repertoire.

All moves and combos remain improvised, creating dynamic choreography in the moment, responding to the music and to each other. Using both a variety of music and a varied movement vocabulary means that each piece has a different feel that closely reflects the musical genre. Where possible these variations are reflected in costuming so for example rather than the standard ATS uniform of sleeved choli, pantaloons and skirt Pedralta dancers might use a more covered look for a saaidi inspired stick piece, with silk coats and loose turban.

"I'm here to sing the praises of Ms. Duende herself, Donna Gardner. She is a beautiful dancer with a vision and precision in style that is awe inspiring. To me she is THE UK teacher for Tribal Spanish style and her hands/arms/posture are to die for!"

Wendy Marlatt of San Francisco

American Tribal Style®

American Tribal Style® is defined by improvisational group dance. To achieve this style the group needs a common, learned vocabulary of moves. It has its roots in the FatChance BellyDance® style, created and developed by Carolena Nerriccio of San Francisco. Other groups like Gypsy Caravan and Domba, have developed their own versions of ATS but have their roots are in the FatChance style. The moves have a powerful feel, borrowing heavily from Indian Khatak, Flamenco and Romany tradition.

Dancers rely on cues that should be indistinguishable to an audience, such as the phrasing of the music, the “chemistry” between the dancers, eye contact, and the angle of an arm to create a seamless transition.

Tribal Fusion

The term Tribal Fusion originally described styles that evolved from ATS and incorporated other strong ethnic influences, Indian Tribal Fusion, Spanish Tribal Fusion. Dancers take moves from American Tribal Style and use them to create choreographed dances or dance as soloists. Troupes may use a mix of choreography and improvisation.

Probably the best-known innovator of Tribal Fusion is Rachel Brice who also trained with FatChance, and tribal fusion has become synonymous with Rachel’s individual style - though it incorporates many and varied styles.

Tribal Style

Tribal Style has become the “catch all” for both styles and a mixture of any ATS style.


Triberet is used to describe what is really American Nightclub style, performed in tribal type costume.

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