23 April, 2021
Please note that many of the things I mention are specific to my own experiences, through the lens of a white dancer in the United States. Some things I mention may not apply to other countries and cultures or may not make sense within their cultural context. That said, global white supremacy is a massive problem, and every [predominantly white, non-MENAHT] culture should be examining their role in fusion dance styles.
What drew me to FatChanceBellyDance® Style (formerly American Tribal Style)?
I’ve spent a lot
of time over the last year, trying to put to words what, exactly, it was about this format that drew me in.
Was it the costuming – bright and colorful, full of texture, full of [perceived] cultural history?
Was it the music – dripping with emotions, also transporting me to countries I’ve never visited – and likely will never get the chance to visit?
Was it the distinct movement vocabulary – the comfort of knowing what comes next, without actually knowing what was next, and the ability to dance with anyone, anywhere?
Was it the people – dancers who were shaped like me, with tattoos and piercings, and bright hair in all colors of the rainbow?
It was all of these things.
But now I find myself asking …. At what cost?
and jewelry pieces hold significant value to MENAHT groups.
As a white, American dancer I have, over the years, seen and made questionable “fashion” choices regarding my dance costuming. Facial markings, turbans, certain ethnic jewelry pieces – these are all things that have very specific meanings in MENAHT cultures. My wearing of these, benefiting from them as mere costuming – is, frankly, an affront to the people of those cultures, especially as they are often ridiculed (or attacked) in the US for wearing these same things. Wearing them simply because it is pretty, and does not hold a cultural meaning for me, is problematic (at best!). This is appropriative, and the practice needs to stop.
Several bands used regularly by troupes, while sounding “ethnic”, are fronted by white musicians, who profit off the music of other cultures. We can find and dance to amazing music from source musicians. This isn’t to say that white Americans cannot play ethnic music, but we do need to be conscious of how they learned and how they give back.
is not unlike the movements I have learned in ethnic dances or raqs sharqi. Some naming conventions are blatant misnomers (whether it was purposeful or not, this can still be incredibly
The codification of dance is not exclusive to “belly dance”, which is, itself, a Western umbrella term coined in the 20th century.
Teachers of all styles will name movements based on how they look or feel, which is why some movements have the same name, but are different, or have different names, but are the same.
William Shakespeare wrote: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” - we are not required to follow someone else’s vocabulary.
So that brings
me to the people.
My fellow dancers - humans with whom I have shared a connection while dancing.
I’ve been disappointed by many of them, and thoroughly impressed by many more.
If we want to keep dancing together, we must do better for the sake of our global community. We do not own these dances from which this style is derived; we are guests and should act as such.
I am striving to be a more conscious and ethical dancer. No matter how much I love this dance, though, and so many of its members, intent does not equal impact, and no amount of changing movement names or offloading costume pieces can make me, personally, feel like I’m doing enough to honor the many cultures from which these fusion styles originate.
I would like to thank the people who have supported me as a dancer and teacher, as well as those who have offered education and guidance. Technology has given us many opportunities to explore the world and its vibrant cultures, and the ability to meet and learn from so many brilliant and talented artists. I feel that I have grown so much over the last year alone, simply because I have taken the time to listen to source dancers.
We can appreciate things and still be appropriating it, which is why I have made the decision to step away from my FCBD® affiliation and, at least for the foreseeable future, cease operation of KCDC Studio.
I have a few teaching obligations left for the year, and I will be completing those through the summer.
If my current students or followers are interested in continuing with this format, I can recommend teachers that I trust to provide not only quality instruction, but also cultural context of the movements, music, and costuming.
LaDonna von Stoetzel
(from our Facebook page)
Hey all! Tasha-Rose here...
You have probably noted for quite some time that I have been absent of class work and performing. I have had a few life changes and a bit of issue with my RA as a result of a medication I was on when pregnant with my youngest, Henri. This has all made me have need to step back from dance for the past couple of years. In that time there were a lot of changes with FCBD that caused me to make the decision to break with the dance form formally (though I do still love it entirely in its art form) and to no longer be recognized as a Sister Studio.
I am now at a place personally and professionally that I am moving on from dance almost entirely, save for an advisory role in KCDC. My personal and professional goals have shifted to center my family even more and my feminist activism and writing.
Of course KCDC isn't going away! Donna has taken on leadership of the troupe and classes, and has been working hard to keep KCDC Minnesota's leader in ATS. As a result, I am excited to announce that Donna is the new owner and director of Kamala Chaand Dance Company. With that, KCDC remains Minnesota's PREMIER FCBD Sister Studio and American Tribal Style dance company dedicated to the art and style set in place by Carolena Nericcio.
Donna has been dancing with KCDC since 2012 and received her Sister Studio status two years ago.
I am excited to see the direction Donna takes the troupe. She has been training some really solid dancers and is of course rooted in the original KCDC style.
It's been my joy dancing ATS and leading this troupe. We have had so many brilliant dancers flow through our ranks, one who joined us all the way from Poland, and have at one point three certified Sister Studio teachers in troupe. We have gotten to share the stage with dancers from all over the world, host an incredible dance event with world class instructors, and of course lead the ATS charge in the great state of Minnesota. When I started ATS 13.5 years ago, I never thought it would give me so much. I never thought it would enable me in part to become the woman I am today.
I am grateful to all of the students I have had over the years for helping me become a great teacher, and teaching me the art of confidence. I became the teacher I always wanted to be: the one who seeks to see students become better than the teacher. I am grateful to my husband who encouraged me when things were really difficult and I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I am so grateful, for the rest of my life, to my teachers, Cassandra Shore and Carolena Nericcio. Thanks also goes to the myriad of teachers I have gotten to workshop with over the years as well. Lastly I am thankful to my troupe and most especially Donna. Donna has been my right hand for the last number of years and I came to depend on her like no one else because of her ability to give the counter view, or just to take the reins from time to time so I could manage the troupe even better. STTWC never would have happened without her. KCDC wouldn't still BE without her these last two years. You're in good hands, KCDC. I wouldn't trust you to anyone else.
Whenever I started a new series, I always told my students the reason I was teaching: because women hate each other. From the moment we are born we are conditioned to hate one another and guise it with "sisterhood." The reason this dance appealed so much to me was because when we are in the midst of dancing with 2-4 women, we don't have time for that. The only thing we have time for is to be connected to one another in a way that only women can be... and it's magic. Ego is shed. Cultural conditioning is shed. Negative self talk is shed. All we are worried about is the flow, or as Carolena called it, the Divine Subconscious. The flow is feeling the music, catching the cues, taking the lead, dancing the circle, following, magic.
Make art. Make magic. Dance.
I love you KCDC.
KCDC,Inc. is doing some heavy reconstruction.
Tasha-Rose will soon be taking a hiatus in order to work on a lot of really huge administrative tasks that need to be done. We are also working on partnership paperwork and all that jazz.
As such, the roles of the three teachers at KCDC,Inc. are changing.
Tasha-Rose will maintain controlling ownership and take on the title of Artistic Director
LaDonna will be stepping into the role of Managing Director
Breana will be stepping into the role of Assistant Director.
Tasha-Rose will still hang around the studio at least once a week, but is planning at least a six month hiatus to get some heavy lifting done, have a baby, and re-center.
KCDC,Inc. is altogether switching focus. While we are remaining dedicated to being the only troupe in Minnesota to be committed to the standard of ATS® and will not be performing other styles of dance within the company, we are also working on the roots. There is a commitment of all troupe members this coming year on heavy study of all things Masha Archer as well as influences of other dance forms within the context of ATS®. As instructors, we are also honing our workshop offerings to provide a more thorough understanding to our students of the components of movement that take dancers from great to excellent.
Expect a lot of changes in the next year or so of KCDC,Inc. We are moving forward in style and grace and are excited to have all of our students and fan-base with us along the way as we grow and expand in so many ways.
As ever... thank you.