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The Loss of An Era

"The opinions expressed within this article reflect the author's thoughts and expressions only and do not reflect those of Fanoos Magazine, it's owner/editor or staff.  The author has been made aware of this disclaimer and the article is published with permission."



Colonizers … Bigots … Cultural Appropriators … these are the accusations that changed Tribal Belly Dance for good. As a 24-year-old, I enjoyed what we called American Tribal Style® (ATS®) with passion. Carolena Nericcio, who founded Fat Chance Belly Dance® (FCBD®), took what Masha Archer gave her and revolutionized it to create another artform. Masha had no name really, for her style.

The San Francisco Classic Dance Troupe took the dance Jamila Salimpour was promoting and made it an art piece. Archer was married to a photographer at the time of her belly dance journey and was into ethnic artifacts. She would stack bangles from Rajasthan that were found in India and Miao tribes of China. The intention was to be a moving art piece and nothing more.

With all good things coming to an end, Masha decided to end her time and dive into jewelry at the San Francisco Opera House in San Francisco, California. She has not given up her love for dance, though. She likes watching new dancers and her students evolve from her style to create something of their own. Masha is still alive, and her daughter Larissa still dances today.

I call Masha the actual founder of ATS®. She developed the style that made this dance possible. Jamila gave her the tools to create this unique art form. Carolena was the vessel which revolutionized this art and used the Modern Primitives Era to help society make sense of what was being presented on stage. She has stated in many interviews her only desire was to dance in an original manner. Everything else just developed with destiny. A beautiful destiny she has, indeed.

FCBD® grew from Carolena’s love of this dance which Masha taught her. The rest we know as Belly Dance history. I fell in love with it when I sought more folkloric content in my Fusion. I do old school formations only. Honestly, the new school of technique is foreign to be to me. I like the formations and costumes that were not censored as some are these days. I am familiar with a lot of the cultures which were borrowed from, and I believe this complaint to be an American ideology. Many in India and the Middle East have no concern with what is worn by Westerners. Many tribal castes are thankful they have people buying things they make. This is survival for the castes involved. Sadly, many Westerners see this as a tempest in a teacup.

The era is almost over where the old school stuff is concerned. With recent changes in the dance scene, ATS® is not the grand display it once was. There was a day where I looked forward to seeing the costumes, but now all dancers are starting to look the same.

The pieces missing are the ethnicities which made up the Dance Dowry. The Dance Dowry was a dancer’s collection of items in his/her collection of ethnic jewelry. Dancers opt for mass-produced items instead of the nomadic artifacts they once sought high and low. I believe this is due to lack of knowledge or fear of “Cultural Appropriation.” This “woke” mafia has many in fear of persecution. Now even if a bindi is worn people complain. Many items are worn incorrectly in the Belly Dance modern culture in general by non-MENAHT (Middle Eastern, North African, Hellenic, and Turkish) dancers.

Transnational Fusion is a newer thing in which people are getting involved. As many of the

Fusion dancers are seeking more MENAHT teachers, I do not foresee the long-term survival of this art form. Sadly, ‘wokeism’ is taking over this art by storm. We are losing the fun, more importantly, the unlimited skills of the classic dances due to the multitudes of complaints. I do not believe the censorship of any art form is appropriate. Art is subjective and if it offends you, please excuse yourself from watching the performance. I think many will regret the censorship when they become aware of the decline of interest. Call me old fashioned; I will take that as a badge of honor, thank you.


I believe it comes down to belly dance values at the end of this era. We are seeing a lot of

changes, some for the better and some for the worse. Looking back at videos like “Tattooed One” by FCBD®, we see what we will be missing. I plan to keep using my style for my dancing. I refuse to stop doing what I love to do based on people’s opinions which are not factually-oriented in any form. I keep in close touch with MENAHT people to understand their cultures well. Art will never harm anybody if the intentions are pure, and censorship of any art must be carefully considered. I will miss the days when we could just dance without the fear of being blacklisted for doing what we love to do. Belly dance is supposed to be about community, not about who is the most “woke” or socially acceptable. This dance

Masha created was never meant to be anything folkloric but beautiful moving art.

All things end and I hope censorship is one that definitely ends in our community. Soon.

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