Since the name change from ATS® to FCBD®Style last year, the members of FatChanceBellyDance® and I have been carefully reviewing our terminology with the goal of making our language more inclusive and respectful. As part of our Moving Forward initiative, we are excited to share updates to our language that will improve FCBD®Style instruction and move our community toward more culturally respectful practices.
I’ve received feedback that beginner dancers often have difficulty understanding or remembering the movement names because they aren’t related to what the movements do in an obvious way. In addition to a lack of clarity, some of the movement names can be seen as culturally insensitive or even offensive. It was recently shared with me that the indigenous people of North Africa reject the term “Berber” as derogatory and refer to themselves instead as the Amazigh or Imazighen (plural).
It is understandable that dancers have proposed and adopted their own terminology to address these concerns. However, this piecemeal approach threatens to undermine our shared vocabulary and divide our community.
We agree that it is time for our language to change and that we must move forward together.
Out of respect for the Amazigh people and in solidarity with their struggle for self-determination, we are abandoning the movement name “Berber Walk” and replacing it with the more descriptive term “Knee Walk.”
Along with this definite change, we’ve also developed an official list of alternative names for specific movements that people have the option of using if they want. These updated terms are designed to describe what the movements do in some way, making the names easier for students to understand and, therefore, more useful for instructors. We believe this will be a significant improvement in the method of teaching FCBD®Style and is an important step toward more culturally respectful practices.
An abridged list of key movements and the complete list are included below, as well as answers to some common questions.
I want to emphasize that the alternative names are optional for those who want to use them. Going forward, FCBD® will be using the original and alternative movement names concurrently on social media and in our instruction and trainings. Everyone is empowered to use the language that works best for them and their community. Please respect that others may make a choice that is different from yours.
Regardless of whether you adopt the new names or stick with the old, it is essential for FCBD®Style dancers to be familiar with the origins of the step names and inspirations for the movements. Which is why we are also excited to launch a social media project to share the stories behind the steps and help FCBD®Style dancers develop a deeper understanding of our dance and its history. Make sure to follow us on Instagram to follow along!
Carolena & FatChanceBellyDance®
Updates to FCBD®Style Terminology
This information is also available as a downloadable PDF here.
Berber Walk Replaced with Knee Walk
The indigenous people of North Africa reject the term “Berber” as derogatory and refer to themselves instead as the Amazigh or Imazighen (plural). Out of respect for the Amazigh people and in solidarity with their struggle for self-determination, we are abandoning the movement name “Berber Walk” and replacing it with the more descriptive term “Knee Walk.”
Ghawazee-Inspired Shimmy Replaced with Mazin-Inspired Shimmy
During a recent workshop with Khyria Mazin, we learned that she is no longer using the term “Ghawazee” and instead refers to herself as Fannana Al Shibeya meaning folkloric artist. Out of respect and admiration for Khyria and the Mazin family, we will also no longer use the term Ghawazee and are replacing the movement name “Ghawazee-Inspired Shimmy Combo” to “Mazin-Inspired Shimmy Combo” as a dedication to this brilliant and inspiring folkloric artist.
Abridged List of Alternative Movement Names
Original Movement Name
|Alternative Movement Name
|Forward & Back Shimmy
The complete list of alternative movement names, including detailed naming conventions for related variations, can be found below and as a downloadable PDF here.
|Original Movement Name
Alternative Movement Name
|Puja or Moving Meditation
Egyptian Basic/Egyptian Step/Basic Egyptian
Forward & Back Shimmy
|Ghawazee Shimmy Combo
|Ghawazee-Inspired Shimmy Combo
|Chico Four Corners
|Medusa: ATS® Variation
Medusa: Indian Variation
Note: We have not provided alternative names for all FCBD®Style movements. Movements that are not included on the list do not have alternative names. Please see the FAQs below for more information about why and how alternative names were developed.
What’s the problem with the original movement names?
Without additional context, movement names like Egyptian Basic and Arabic Step can be seen as culturally insensitive because they appear to reduce an entire style of dance or group of people down to a single movement. Similarly, references to camels and (in other styles) “snake arms” can be seen as invoking a stereotype of the Middle East as “exotic.”
Other movement names, like Taxeem, Chico Four Corners, and Hand Floreo, have different meanings in other languages that can be confusing to those who don’t speak English as their first language.
How were the alternative names chosen?
The alternative names are designed to describe the movements in some way. For example, the alternative name for the Egyptian Basic is Swivel Step because “swivel” describes the movement in the hips. The alternative name for the Turkish Shimmy is Forward & Back Shimmy, which describes the foot pattern.
Why aren’t there alternatives for all of the non-descriptive movement names?
We have elected not to provide alternatives for movement names that refer directly to identifiable inspirations because it is important to us to credit and honor our sources. For example, the Sahra Turn is named after the Cheb Khaled song that inspired it. Similarly, Sunanda is named after the instructor that Megha studied Rajasthani dance with. Because the origins and meanings of some movement names are not immediately apparent, we are sharing the stories behind the steps so that all dancers know where they came from.
How do I incorporate the alternative movement names into my teaching?
We suggest introducing the alternative names to your students by using them concurrently with the original names. Because the alternative names are descriptive of the movements themselves, they are useful for helping students understand technique and mechanics. Because the original names tie back to the origins and inspirations for the movements, they are a great way to introduce students to the history and cultural context of FCBD®Style.
Will I get into trouble if I don’t use the new names?
Of course not! We hope that all FCBD®Style dancers and instructors will become familiar with the alternative movement names but they are optional for those who wish to use them. We recognize that there are differing opinions on this issue and want to empower people to use the language that works best for them and their community.
Can I use other names for the movements or come up with my own?
The official list of alternative movement names were selected by Carolena and are the only names that are recognized, accepted, and used by FatChanceBellyDance®. While you may choose whether or not to use the alternative names instead of or in conjunction with the original names, we do not support the creation or use of unofficial terminology for FCBD®Style movements.
We may periodically revise and update the information on this page to make corrections or to reflect changes in our understanding as we continue to learn. Significant and substantive revisions will be documented here.