Nina Martinez in the USA 2010

Tribal Corner
Tribal happenings plus Devi talks to Nina Martinez of GypsyRain about her recent trip to the USA

Bellydance Oasis Issue 39. Aug 2010

By Devi Mamak & Nina Martinez

Well as always it’s been busy. Winter is upon us which for us here in The Blue Mountains is a busy time. We have just had the Annual Winter Magic festival where Ghawazi Caravan has been one of the highlights for the past 10 years. It’s a huge weekend with the whole of Katoomba street closing to incorporate the Grand Parade, stalls and performances of all kinds. Into the night becomes a host for various show, the grand ball and fireworks. As per usual leading up to the festival it was chaos and mayhem but as always it all comes off and a good time is had by all.

So, to back track over the past few months. April saw me off to Adelaide once again hosted by the lovely Acushla. I love visiting the Adelaide girls. They are all so lovely and welcoming, and they ask the best questions!

Later this year both Acushla and I will be presenting workshops at UNEARTHED 2010 {A tribal belly dance weekend} in Mooroolbark, Victoria. Other workshop presenters there will be Melusina, Nina and Miasma just to name a few. Acushla and I will also perform a duet together for the first time which I am very excited about. It sounds like a fab weekend. To find out more please go to

Towards the end of April my good friend Javier Rodriguez from Local drumming group King Parrot Samba and I hosted the AMAZING Gianne Abbott, Samba dancer extraordinaire from So You Think You Can Dance 2009 for 1 day, 3 full on workshops. If you didn’t get to see her in last years series of SYTYCD let me tell you she is an amazing dancer, workshops presenter and performer. She taught 3 workshops. The first was afro/samba, the 2nd traditional Samba {my personal favourite} and the 3rd workshop was choreography from her time on SYTYCD and was afro contemporary. This last choreography was full on and at one point she had participants leap into the air with a full barrel turn and land on the floor on your right ear with left leg pointed beautifully to the sky {well perhaps not so beautifully for some!}.

We had a full house for most of the workshops with most dancers hailing from the Blue Mountains. There were of course dancers of all genres from Belly Dance to African dancers, Ballet Dancers and contemporary dancer to ball room dancers. The day was a huge success and Javier and I have plans to host her again. So what does this have to do with Tribal or Oriental Dance I here you say? Hell nothing! But I just had to share!

May of course was the Sydney Middle eastern dance Festival which I have to say was one of the best Sydney Festivals yet. I didn’t get to go the Friday night dinner and show but I heard that everyone had a great time. I did of course go to the Saturday night concert. We performed a few snippets of our show Intertwine complete with our Intertwine musicians, Zenrasa. There were so many good acts that night that I really couldn’t decide which one was my favourite. There was a wide variety and something for everyone to enjoy.

Tarek Sawires and I presented a live tribal drum solo choreography as a workshop. It went well and was well received. Tarek and I had so much fun that we plan to host the workshop again at a later date.

I have also worked out the best way to enjoy the Sunday, festival follies and market day. Get there early, shop and have a chat with old friends and THEN sit down and relax and enjoy the all day shows. Nice way to finish off a big weekend.

The end of May we FINALLY after many years of trying had the amazing Jill Parker grace our Sydney shores for a weekend of performances and workshops. Kellie Harkin {aka Kurvy} sponsored her and she did an amazing job with getting us all together not to mention organising Al Kekseer, the show, which I have to say was one of the best shows I have seen in awhile. There was something there for everyone. A variety of different styles, from ATS to tribal fusion, gothic, classical Indian & contemporary bellydance. The show was also the perfect length as I think sometimes belly dance shows can be a little long. After seeing the show I realised how much talent we have in Australia. Jill was amazing of course but there were many great artists that performed that night that were equally as good. I didn’t get to see a lot of the show as I was backstage & performing myself but some of the standouts for me were Fee from Canberra doing her “angry dance” and Jrisi with her HUGE prop were just mesmerizing.

Being in Jills workshops again I had forgotten what an amazing teacher she is [silly me!]. I noticed that her style has shifted more towards oriental but of course coming at it from a Tribal background. It felt somehow different to an Oriental workshop being presented by a teacher with an oriental background. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops. She was very thorough and precise and it was just the right amount of info. Kellie has plans to bring her out again and we will talk to Jill in coming issues so keep a look out.

In early June, April {fellow Ghawazi member} and I travelled to Akoroa N.Z which happens to be one of my most favourite places in the world {so far!}. Once again we were hosted by the Lovely Margy Morris and Tracey Miller who as always do an amazing job at hosting this kind of thing.

Over the weekend April and I covered a variety of topics from Khalbelia Gypsy dance, ATS and Indian/Tribal fusion. The workshops were very well received and I particularly enjoyed presenting the Indian/Tribal fusion choreography that April and I choreographed together using both our knowledge of ATS as well as our experiences with Odissi dance and in particular utilising April’s recent travels to India to put together this exciting piece which we also performed in N.Z

The performance night was a lot of fun and had a lovely relaxed atmosphere as it was held in one of Akaroa’s fine restaurants. A lot of the workshop participants also performed a variety of styles from Khlabelia, ATS, Gypsy Caravan, Tribal fusion, Flamenco Fusion and contemporary styles of belly dance.

It was lovely to see the Tribal scene in N.Z grow and develop. There were plenty of the same faces attending the workshops which was lovely but there were also many new faces which shows a growing interest in the Tribal scene in N.Z. The plan for next years N.Z trip is Flamenco Fusion so if you are in the area and would like to come along please drop Margy or Tracey a line.

So, enough about me. In this edition of Tribal Corner we talk to my doppelganger, Nina from Gypsy Rain. {yes people often confuse us!} Nina is from the top end of Australia and in this edition she tells of her recent travels to the U.S.A including her extensive studies with Paulette Rees Denis.

Don’t forget to drop me a line with anything Tribal you have going on {as Nina did!} as we would love to hear what you have been up to.


A Tribal Bellydance journey from Oregon to California.

  • What did I do with Paulette in Oregon?

In February this year Paulette Rees- Denis invited me to the States to further my dance training and perform at Tribal Fest 10 with the Gypsy Caravan dancers. This was too big an opportunity to miss, so studied intensely for 2 months and went over in early May. In the little town of Clatskanie, in North West Oregon , an hour or so from Portland, Paulette now lives there on her farm and owns a organic café -shop. Together with Amanda from Wisconsin, Hilary from New Mexico and Cinzia from Italy we had 10 days to immerse ourselves in Collective Soul 3 & 4 and Teacher Training 3. We talked about the joys and difficulties of being a teacher, discussed our strengths and weaknesses, we studied many, many new steps, musicality, zills, improvisation …..Paulette challenges you physically and mentally, after a few days training I realised just how much this really means to me. It seems the harder it gets, the better I want to be!

“I now feel confident in teaching and passing on the moves because I have studied with Paulette, it’s just not the same when you learn from the DVDs or youtube, which is what usually happens when your teacher lives on the other side of the world!.” – Nina Martinez


  • What does certification mean to me?

Passing CS 3 & 4 and TT3 in the Gypsy Caravan format was very important to me. I now feel confident in teaching and passing on the moves because I have studied with Paulette, it’s just not the same when you learn from the DVDs or youtube [which is what usually happens when your teacher lives on the other side of the world!]. The certification gives me something very solid to build on, a foundation of tribal technique.

I feel I am helping to keep our dance ongoing for the future.

  • Personal Feedback at Tribal Fest 10?

Getting down to California and TF meant a 12 hr road trip, 12 women and 3 cars. It was an amazing journey and getting to know the GC and CS girls was a real joy. We shared rooms, laughs, food and wine! Paulette had a booth right by the stage, so between manning the booth and watching the performances, I got to see it all! Many people had said that there was now too much fusion on stage, however I felt that’ fusion ‘was about women experimenting with dance. It’s really about who you want to be as a dancer.

  • Highlights at TF?

Performing with Gypsy Caravan at Tribal Fest was the highlight of my trip, and one of the highlights of my life! Sharing the stage with these amazing women, a world renowned troupe was incredible! I felt very honoured to be there. Thankyou to all the wonderful women who have inspired me and made this journey so remarkable.

So many awesome dancers, but I really loved Collena Shatkri, Rachel Brice, Les Soeurs Tribales, Sabine, Clandestine……..and meeting Jeremiah Soto was a blast!

  • Feedback after the performance?

The audience at tribal fest was fantastic. They clapped us off stage, zagareeted and totally loved Paulette. After the show people stopped us for photos, a camera crew interviewed Paulette and back at the booth it was busy all night.

  • What’s next?

I would love to teach more workshops in Australia. So if you are interested in adding some new exciting GC moves and grooves to your dance let me know!! I am really looking forward to teaching workshops at the Unearthed festival in November and at Feast of the Senses in Brisbane next July.

My plan is to continue my training with Paulette, dancing with my tribal sisters and learning as much as I can.

  • At the Temple!

My tribe and troupe is called ‘GYPSYRAIN’ and we are from a small town called Innisfail. A few years ago we experienced a horrendous cyclone that blew our hall away, so I decided to build my own studio on our property……and we named it ‘The Temple’. The Temple is now a special place for all of us, a retreat……we dance, drum and yes there is shopping!

I teach 4 classes a week, and have a dedicated group of dancers. Our troupe has been together for 10 years now and we love to perform at our local festivals and community events. Anytime you are in far north Queensland please drop by for a class, we would love to meet you!


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