Globalization, Bellydance, and Quarantine

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Fotografia: Carrie Meyer, The Dancer’s Eye

Reflections on current global changes

Surprise! We are under a Global Quarantine, and its effects have changed the entire world as we know it. The way we interact, how we travel, not to mention, of course, the ways in which we connect are now evolving.

The impact of a decision made in San Francisco is as far reaching as traveling while feeling sick. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a comparison I make with one purpose only: to study how far the reach of an idea is during virulent times. That decision generated memes, thus creating an informational pandemic, sort of speak.

We all know that the debate about inclusion in the world of the FCBD™ style dance reached its climax during the inclusion panel celebrated at the end of the ATS Reunion 2020. The panel scarcely lasted an hour, but all the panel members explained that there are possibilities to continue attracting new audiences by communicating in a different way.

What started as a post on Amy Sigil’s feed, fueled by the work of Donna Mejia and the reflections of academics like Brenda Fisher, sparked a high fever on the local American dance scene. What happened after was reminiscent of what Crane Brinton addressed in “Anatomy of the Revolution”. He also makes this comparison between the first symptoms of social unrest and dissatisfaction that accumulates until they end up generating a change; a social turn of the wheel that revolutionizes structures and these, in turn, end up going back to their origin.

Proof of this is that the brilliant solution that the creator of the FCBD ™ style, Caroleena Nericcio, took: she decided to return to the starting point… and with impressive skill, she also separated herself and the dance format she created from the debate regarding ITS. The future and the consequences of that decision are still unknown, and we have yet to witness the repercussions in the midst of this changing reality.

Globalization in dance:

“The debate over the word tribal is a North American debate that doesn’t pertain to Latin America at all.”

“For us in Russia, the tribal word has never had negative implications”

With the recent events, our generation is perhaps the one to which it has become clearer how individual decisions can seriously affect a whole country… and the entire world. Flattening the curve by staying home to fight the Covid-19 epidemic is the only rational strategy during the terrifying scenario of political, social and economic uncertainty we find ourselves in.

A “symptom” does not lose its relevance or validity due to its locality. FCBD-related social networks flooded when the “new name” decision was released, including the indications of a progressive and non-mandatory change to go from ATS ™ to FCBD ™ depending on your local audience. Yet, the panic and strong feelings of rejection towards considering the possibility of changing was, for weeks, the most commented topic in our Global dance community.

How has that change affected us? I think it has made us reflect, debate and comment on a reality that very few of us knew. It has made us think about the scope of the words we use and the way we communicate as Dancers.

Weighing the implications of the term “Tribal”:

We already know everything that weighs on the word tribal on a historical level. But have we thought about the content of the word Tribal on a personal, dare I say philosophical level? What does the word Tribe evoke in the collective unconscious and what contents have we poured into it?

I think we gained a lot by leaving that word behind. Allow me to list three reasons that I observe as an analyst of communications and politics:

We were never just ONE TRIBE:

When you subscribe to a complementary and binary vision of us and them, as is the case with Tribe or No Tribe, you give very few options to someone who is different, that is, to someone who occupies an alternative area. That person that thinks differently, that communicates differently, or even has different expectations is rapidly detected as an outsider and “not part of my tribe”.

Following that mindset, everything that is not with you is against you, and nobody better than Karl Schmitt to explain it with his Friend-Enemy theory. In the world of dance, we were invisibly united by the same idea: You could be my Tribe sister… or not. In other words, the timeless dichotomy of “you’re either with me or against me”.

How free I feel now. Growing in a style of dance with an increasingly horizontal participation system. I am sure that everyone who created their own dance group understands me. Maybe you wanted to create something new, maybe you defied your teacher attending classes on another academy, or maybe you did not fit into your original “tribe” and had to look for other options.

As a community, we assign an almost religious meaning to this word that in no way changes or modifies the essence of the art we practice. So, what’s the big deal? For starters, many feel they’d be losing the sense of belonging to that exclusive group. Groups that in many occasions became discriminatory, or at least that’s what happened in my home country of Venezuela.

I think that having FCBD ™ as part of the name of your troupe or academy, gives it a more professional and organized structure to the objectives of your teaching. This change subtly forces the instructors to stay within the limits of the format without modifications during their classes. Furthermore, this does not limit our creative freedom; each of us can still create new dialects with their own names and goals. Actually, it is as an invitation to do so.

We are part of a Global community

At least in the way we communicate, we are no longer an infinite list of small groups. Now we are multiple sources of the same light. Under this feeling, we have just celebrated a 24-hours international Flow organized via social networks by Samantha Jane and Lisi Brumer, dancers that even though I haven’t met in person, gave me the opportunity to lead for 20 minutes from my living room to dance with dancers from every corner of the world. We were all united under the same desire: socialize through dance. And now we are creating a second one! Can’t wait!

I enjoy the flexibility that allows us to detach ourselves from that word. And I invite you to see yourself as an agent of change in the midst of a challenging and globalized reality.  We are together, changing the world one day of quarantine at a time.

Nataly Urbáez

A Plus Size Dancer with a Dream.

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