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Group improvisation is the key characteristic of American Tribal Style® belly dance. Using a vocabulary of movements and cues, ATS® allows dancers to communicate with each other while engaged in the dance, bringing it to life. With movements inspired by folkloric dances of the Middle East, North Africa, Spain and India, ATS®, though a modern dance, feels as if it has been around for many generations. Vibrant costumes, enticing music, exotic movements and interaction between the tribe of dancers combine to develop incredible dance creations.

The focus of American Tribal Style® belly dance is on the group, as opposed to emphasizing solo performance. There are two families of movements: slow movements and fast movements, based on the tempo of the music. When dancing with larger groups, a chorus is usually formed to create a backdrop of movement for the duet, trio,
or quartet that emerge from the chorus and are the focal point of the dance. The cues, formations and transitions used in ATS® are the secret behind group improvisational dance. Dancers are able to magically move together in a group dynamic without the need to choreograph their dance.

American Tribal Style® belly dancers always use finger cymbals or zils.

photo by Karl Ulrich
"I love the strength & beauty of ATS®. The power of the moves and the music is intoxicating. When dancing with a group, there's a sense of sisterhood & community that can't be equaled. The costuming uses both traditional and modern pieces from all over the world, allowing us to feel exotic, transforming us to a different place and time."

~ Dawn

Costuming is another integral part of ATS®. It includes "folkloric" and various traditional tribal costuming resources. They can include pantaloons, 10 yard skirt (often layered), a choli, bra covered with coins and textiles, hip scarves and belts, tassels and lots and lots of jewelry from all over the world. The end result is a look that is both stunning and exotic.

For more, read: A History of American Tribal Style® Bellydance * by Rina Orellana Rall

ATS® is a magical dance form that takes time to perfect, but the journey is astounding!