Tribal Happenings & Dani Interviews Ariellah

Tribal Corner
Tribal happenings plus an interview with Ariellah

Bellydance Oasis Issue 46. 2013


As I type the latest news and goss to you all I can see the light at the end of the tunnel to which has proven to be a very busy 6 months. Like most of you we have had performances leading up to Christmas, big shows and festivals. I know that all of our readers would love to hear what all you Tribal enthusiasts have been up to in your part of the world so please tell us about what you have been doing. Let’s share the love!


I have been busy travelling around the place as usual starting a little closer to home in Wollongong. I was sponsored by the lovely Jasmin Langton and Kylie Morrison of Illawarra Tribal Collective and we had lovely ladies attending from all over the southern areas of Sydney and beyond. It has been so long that I didn’t have to get on a plane to teach a workshop so I was happy to do something a little more local and all the ladies and myself had such a lovely time.


Next for me {and for many of us Tribal gals} we had our Biannual Tribal and Trance Festival held in Sydney. I held the first Tribal and Trance Festival back in 2006 and then handed the reins over to Debra Napier and she has held it Bi annually ever since and I have to say it gets better every year! The central location of Parramatta makes it easy for the interstate guests as there is an abundance of accommodation, cafes, restaurants and shops all within walking distance to all the workshops and show venues as well as great transportation.


There was a huge variety of workshops on offer from ATS, Oriental fusion, Makeup, props, African Tribal Fusion, layering, hands and Arms, spins and turns. etc, etc. Special international guests for the weekend were Sabine from Oregon, U.S.A and Bellydance Superstar Samantha Emmanuel. Although I didn’t get the opportunity to attend Sabine’s workshops I heard rave reviews about them. Sabine is known around the world for her sword technique and many I talked to said she gave wonderful insight into new ways on how to handle the sword as well as various combos and ideas.


I did manage to get to a workshop with Samantha Emmanuel and Acushla Mkrtschjan’s workshops. Acushla’s workshop was great. As well as being a dear friend of mine she is also a wonderful teacher and performer. I found her class well structured and at a perfect pace. Acushla and I often laugh at how we both seem to come up with very similar ideas simultaneously and this workshop was no different! I found the workshop challenging enough in that it was new material to me but I think that the two of us have a very similar way of moving so her combos felt natural to my body so that made it easy.


I also thoroughly enjoyed Samantha’s workshop. I attended the layer cake class. I got lots of great tips and ideas for class room drills and performance and although some of it was challenging coordination wise Samantha’s explanations and patience made it all user friendly pared with her down to earth nature which was lovely. I was very honoured that she attended both of my workshops, asking questions and giving it all a go up the back of the room!


The Saturday Red Carpet night held at the Parramatta riverside theatre involved performances by all workshop teachers and their perspective troupes and the variety in different styles kept things interesting for the audience.


The all day Soiree and market day on the Sunday had a lovely relaxed atmosphere with lots of goodies to purchase and drool over as well as performances by professionals and students alike all through out the day. Myself and everyone I talked to really enjoyed this years festival so well done Deb and all her team!


November was the month for my European tour, and it was HUGE! This time I made it easier on myself and used Belgium as my base to rest before to get over jet lag and in between cities. This was a great idea as Europe is just so far from Australia and the travel is hard on your body. After my several days resting I flew to Oslo Norway for Tribal Camp Oslo hosted by Tribal Troopers. Susan Frankovich {of USA and Croatia} and myself were the special guests and I felt very honoured to be a special guest with Susan as apart from being a delightful person she is an amazing teacher and performer. Tribal camp Oslo is not a festival but more as its name suggests a weekend intensive for a smaller group with just 2 teachers {myself and Susan}. The benefit of this I felt was that it really gave the workshop participants grounding in both our styles. We had a lovely group of about 40 women from Norway, Sweden, Germany, U.K and one man from Canada. Of course there was a performance night with many genres of belly dance present including a woman from Sweden who, when I asked her what she would be performing {as her costume was a little different} she replied “Tribal, ATS, steam punk, Saidi cane fusion piece!” To my delight that’s exactly what she did and it was very entertaining and certainly different!


The event went very smoothly and all participants were very enthusiastic and asked lots of questions. My only regret was I didn’t get to see enough or Norway.


So back to my little house in Belgium for a few days staying with the mother in law of my European tour manager and friend from Finland, Hannele. I taught an evening workshop during the week in Leige, Belgium which was fun but difficult as most people in that part of Belgium don’t speak much English. However having said that its not bad for people who learn via constant drilling as there is less time for talk and questions and coming from a migrant background I am pretty good at getting my message across with as few words as possible!


Next I was off to Germany in a town not far from the French border. This was hosted by Gudrun Herold who I have known for many years as she was a resident in N.Z for a number of years and had come to many of my workshops before. Gudrun has recently in the last few years returned to Germany and has really worked hard to create a great Tribal community with many of the dancers all over Germany, many who travel 7 hrs to dance together when they can. Gudrun hosted a casual performance night which gave all the workshop participants an opportunity to dress up for each other and perform. There were many stand out performances including a couple of ladies from Edinburgh who danced to Scottish music and added tartan to their tribal costume! I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Germany but once again wish it could have been longer. A lot of people say to me “oh you are so lucky to be able to travel and see so many great places” but in reality I was lucky to get a morning drive in Norway quickly taking photos where I could, an afternoon shopping in Belgium and a lovely stop over in Strasbourg, France for lunch on our way to Germany. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it of course, but it is not all as glamorous as it sounds. Its seeing a lot of airports, workshop venues, performance venues, and the room where you sleep but you do get to enjoy the drive to and from and just to be able to be in a different country is exciting in itself.


Two and a half weeks later I come home and hit the ground running preparing for the Jillina show and another instalment of Intertwine which all happened to fall on the same weekend so a huge one personally for me.


Jilliana Carlando of the BDSS was sponsored by Jrisi Jusakos in Sydney and Keke in Adelaide. The weekend started with Jrisi putting on a well thought out show in Sydney which involved many of the top dancers from around Australia including Rose and Raks Harissa from Perth, Melusina and Underbelly from Melbourne, Jrisi and The Hathor Dance Theartre, myself and Ghawazi Caravan but of course the star of the show was Jillina and she did not disappoint! I think that from what I saw every act was top notch and the attention to detail was well thought out. Jrisi sure knows how to put on a great show!


The next day after the Jillina show it was time for Intertwine, “Birds of Paradise”. This latest instalment of Intertwine had a different line up and feel to the previous intertwine shows and was held at the Blactown Arts Centre which was a lovely space surrounded by other rooms full of local art work. Our musicians this time included Hands, Heart and Feet, African drummers and dancers, Bronwyn Kirkpatrick {shakuhachi master}, Miriam Leiberman on voice, guitar and Kora, King Parrot Samba, Samba band and my Kalon Captain holding up the Arabic percussion section, as well as being a member of King Parrot Samba. We managed to take the audience on a journey around the world, fusing dance and world music in a beautiful and cohesive way. At times the dancers became the musicians and visa versa, a particular element that Jillina loved about the show {yes she came!}. Although there were things I personally felt we can improve on I felt that it was probably the best intertwine yet. The dance and music was so diverse and kept the audience guessing and wondering what was next. We all enjoyed working together {a crucial element!} and we are hoping to do a few more shows later in the New Year, so watch this space for more info and dates.


Next day I dragged myself out of bed to attend at least one of Jillinas workshops. How could I not? She was in town and Tribal or not she is Jillina and I just had to experience one of her workshops. I was not disappointed. It was Classical Egyptian Choreography which was beautiful of course, capturing every nuance in the music. Her teaching style was clear and precise with plenty of great tips and to top it all off she was just so lovely and down to earth something you may not expect from someone as well known as she is. I was really glad that I made the effort to go.


So that leads me to all the usual Christmas gigs and haflas which we are all experiencing at the moment. Please read on as we have a great interview with the fascinating Ariellah conducted by our very own Dani Grazcyk. I wish you all a relaxing and fun time over the holiday season with your close friends and family and will check in again with you all in the New Year. Until next time take care. Cheers! Devi xx


Dani interviews Ariellah.

  1. What do you believe is the core of your unique style and how has your dance evolved throughout your years of performing.

I believe that honesty is at the core of my dance…an authentic representation of myself, my emotions and my interpretation of life and my understanding and complete adoration of music.  I believe my dance has evolved over and over again and has reinvented itself numerous times in a very organic way…from the first 2-4 years where I was only able to replicate what I had learned from my first 2 belly dance instructors, to some slight solo work that allowed me to grow a little into my own, with added support from my teacher and dance community to continue to add more and more of myself in my dance, to 100s of dance classes, private lessons and workshops 10 years later where I am still continuing to strive to improve my technique and understand more and more about stage presence and intention…and I continue to take dance classes and private lessons to try to master my own art form, at least try to, to this very day…it is the journey of all of it, in the end, I suppose, the strive for excellence and mastery of a certain skill.  I want to elevate this dance form as much as I can whilst I am alive and the only way I know how to do that is by gaining a better and very intimate understanding of every single movement and isolation, in order to convey this highly skilled art form to the general public.


  1. I know that you come from a Moroccan ancestry, has this influenced your dance style?

I am not sure if it has influenced my dance style directly, but it most certainly has given me a deep love of music and dance…since the time I can remember there was always music and clapping and singing and often times even dancing at my home amongst my father, myself and my many Moroccan aunts and uncles and I think this instilled in me a deep love of music, rhythm and movement…so, though the movements may not be influenced, the understanding and adoration behind music and dance, I feel, was greatly influenced by my Moroccan upbringing.


  1. When you perform, you have a gift of holding the audience with your energy. How do you create this and are there any tips you have for dancers to practise to enhance this technique?

Rather unfortunately, or fortunately, I am not sure, but I believe myself to be a very intense human being and I am also very passionate, and so I believe that this enables me to project and engage on stage…implore my audience to see or feel or try to understand what it is I am trying to convey.  It was not always like this, however…it has taken YEARS and years of practice and pushing myself to get over horrible stage fright, and in my personal and social life, trying to not be so shy and scared…this has taken a lot of effort on my part, both on and off stage…If I had any tips for dancers to better engage their audience, it is to try to find exercises and techniques on making eye contact with your audience, understanding projection, being mindful and being fully in the present moment on stage(and off!) and having the capacity to fully understand what it means bring intention and depth into one’s movements and performance pieces.  A dancer may also want to try taking a local acting class to better understand how to convey a message to an audience and the amount of energy and characterization necessary to make that authentic and to make it hit home with their audience.

I also believe that if there is something behind your piece, an emotion, a storyline, a character and you truly believe in that and the music reinforces that…that you will be more easily able to capture the audience’s attention.  Also, if you truly love your music, your movements and what you are doing in your piece, that will also come across and will help to keep the attention of the audience because they will feel all of that connection coming from you.

I am sure everyone would be interested to know what inspires you? What is your muse?

My one and only muse is music.  It is my life.  I adore it.  I am in utterly in love with it

  1. Please share with us one of your favourite quotes and how you apply that to your dance and performance?

My favourite quote is by Charles Baudelaire:

“Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals.”

When I dance, I am purely moved by my music and am in love with it, as so beyond this, I am so in love with my music and I know it so well, that I want to go inside and in between the notes and bring each one to life, with my movements, with a gesture, with an expression, an emotion, so that I make a three dimensional experience of the sound coming through the speakers…I want to bring the music to life!  And I want to show my great passion and love affair with it!


  1. UMBRA Theatrical Gothic bellydance had the pleasure of hosting you in 2011. Was this your first time in Australia and what were your impressions of the ‘Land Down Under’?

My first impressions of Australia were so welcoming.  Both the belly dance and gothic communities seemed to be so inviting and authentic.

My interaction with other dancers on and off stage and in and out of worshops was outstanding.  Everyone seemed to be support of each other and of me and I felt a strong connection there.  I also thoroughly appreciated the drama, the love, the emotion and the theatre I saw in the dance performances at the Umbra show…I was blown away by the depth and emotion of each piece…and in that respect I also felt at home and in good company.


  1. While in Australia you were the guest performer at Evernight 3 2011, dancing with UMBRA and as a soloist, how was your experience of Evernight?

I will say much of the same as the previous question…it seemed a very community driven place and event and the event ran very smoothly.I felt like the show ran well and I was treated so kindly by all of the staff and fellow dancers. I even had the opportunity to join in a piece with Dani and her dance company and I had such a smooth and easy time working with her and all of the other dancers…it was such a pleasure.



  1. Also we know you got to meet some of the Aussie animals here, did you have a favourite critter?

HAHAHA!  I did indeed get to meet many animals whilst there which was absolutely beautiful and inspiring…I have to say that I am still in awe of the kangaroo and also all of the different species of birds…they are so lovely, but my very favourite encounter was up close and personal with 2 of the most beautiful peacocks my eyes have beheld. I will never forget their loveliness…2 of them even kissed in front of me AND ate from my hand…it was amazing!  And their colours are simply mind blowing! WOW!  So lovely!


  1. Travelling around the world teaching, performing and sharing your passion of dance keeps you very busy, what has unfolded for you over the past 12 months.

I think that over the past 12 months I have been lucky enough to work on another new project, alongside an older project and both of these projects have given me extreme satisfaction both artistically and technically and have given me new found inspiration…


  1. Ariellah you have given so much of yourself to the community of belly dance around the world, what is something that you have received in learning that you carry with you throughout your journey?

Wow, this is a very deep question.  I think I have learned that with hard work, focus, appreciation, consistence, and dedication, I have learned that one can improve by leaps and bounds…hard work makes it all worth it in the end with its great rewards.  The quest to learn and understand ever more has been valuable to me…