ATS® Movement Dialect

I’ve been trying to think up a lengthy and thought-provoking way of presenting this topic, but it’s really short and sweet. We have a new category: FCBD®Style Movement Dialect.

Last year at Tribal Fest I settled down to watch a few FCBD® Sister Studios and I have to admit I was shocked, I had no idea what they were doing! At first I was upset. This is supposed to be a language that we can all understand. How could my own Sister Studios be presenting combinations and formations that I didn’t recognize? But then I thought about it and realized that’s the nature of growth. Even some of the steps that we (collectively: FCBD®, Devyani, Tamarind and Ghawazi Caravan) put on Tribal Basics Vol. 9 Anatomy of a Step are more short choreography or combo than steps. As much as I’d like us to remain in Classic FCBD®Style for the rest of our lives, I have to open things up for the dance to continue to grow. We now have Classic FCBD®Style, Modern FCBD®Style and FCBD®Style Movement Dialect. Sheesh!

Let’s define FCBD®Style Improv vs FCBD®Style Movement Dialect; Improv uses universal FCBD®Style steps that are recognized by all dancers. The steps can be combined in a never ending variety of ways, using cues to move into and out of duets, trios and quartets, which are supported by the chorus. It appears magical to the on-looker but to us it’s a highly sophisticated language that is easy to understand once you learn the alphabet and words (steps and variations), grammar (formations) and parts of speech (cues, musicality, etc.)

Here’s the boundary: if you can create a variation on an FCBD®Style step that I can follow without you having to explain it, it’s still FCBD®Style Improv. If you have to take me aside and teach me the step, combo or choreo, it’s FCBD®Style Movement Dialect. Movement Dialect describes the unique combinations and creations of a particular troupe or group. This Movement Dialect naturally evolves through the creative process of personal and group collaboration.

Although FatChanceBellyDance®Style Belly Dance is largely improvisational, we have always used choreographies when the situation merited. Sometimes you have a show that wants a full spectrum in just a few minutes, or a piece of music that really needs a combo to land in just the right spot. This is a great time to employ a Movement Dialect. It’s also a great way to get comfortable with a challenging piece of music, or introduce new dancers to the possibilities of Improv. We do that with our Tribal Combinations L2 class at the FatChanceBellyDance® Studio in San Francisco.

If you have something that you’ve been developing I invite you to share it with me. Here are some guidelines for submission.

  • Film your FCBD®Style Movement Dialect; this can be as formal as iMovie, or as informal as a YouTube clip. You many include up to five new moves, limit each demonstration to one minute.
  • Include a brief explanation; you can add it as a voiceover, or present it in person when you film it.
  • Demonstrate your FCBD®Style Movement Dialect in the context of a brief performance, using approximately 3/4 FCBD®Style Movement Dialect and 1/4 Classic FCBD®Style, so I can see it in context. Limit the performance to 5 minutes.
  • Compile this into one video; this may include navigation (preferred) or be presented as one long clip.
  • There’s no charge for me to view your FCBD®Style Movement Dialect, as I always enjoy being included in your creative process. However, if you’d like a personalized review and comments, we will set up a 30 minute phone call to provide feedback as we view the video together. The fee for this is $60.

Stay tuned for a tutorial of this process on

23 November 2013

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