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Dawn Ruckert is guest at the
7. Black Forest Tribal Fest
in Wolfach (near Offenburg)
20. - 22. Oktober 2017

to the Workshops ...
Dawn Ruckert is one of the leading personalities in the international ATS® community. This year she will be around at the Black Forest Tribal Festival for the second time. In the interview below she enlightens us how she found to American Triba Style® and what is it with her, baskets, and ATS®

Interview with Dawn Ruckert

by Marcel Bieger

On your site we learn that you first saw tribal style dance in 1993 and were amazed; did you have any dance experience or training (probably other styles) before that or was this like a trip into another world for you?

Growing up, dance was not something I aspired to or even really considered. It was really that event that opened up the door. Everything about it - the music, the movements, the costuming & make-up - were all so exhilarating and inspiring! That event really changed the course of my life. I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved with something that brought this much beauty into the world and I started taking classes as soon as I found my instructors.

Shortly after that you "introduced to the amazing work of Carolena Nericcio-Bohlman, founder of American Tribal Style® (ATS) dance". Tell us a little bit more about this encounter and why you have been stuck to ATS® ever since.

My instructors at the time, members of Zafira Dance Studios in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the U.S., had just come back from San Francisco and shared some of the knowledge that they had learned from Carolena. They also brought back VHS tapes of performances and instruction. Once I saw it, I knew right away that ATS® was the style of dance I wanted to perform and work to master! The strength and beauty in the powerful moves, the intoxicating music, the costuming that uses both traditional and modern pieces from all over the world… ATS® allows us to feel exotic as performers and transports us, and the audience, to a different place and time.

Please put in your own words why ATS® is such an unbelievable movement/community that it has spread all over the world (and you being part of this).

There are so many reasons why this style is so unique:
I think the success and appeal of ATS® is due to its unique nature. Every single performance is unique. You can take the vocabulary and create a different experience every time you dance. Not only is it stunning to watch and great fun to perform, but it allows you to dance with anyone across the globe as long as they know the language of ATS®. This style is for all ages, all sizes, and all shapes! All are welcome! ATS® has allowed me to connect with people from many parts of the world and different walks of life. We can all come together to enjoy our dance. It’s very inviting. I think that excites people. I know it does me.

Would it be okay to say, you put the baskets into ATS®? If so, what made you introduce this prop to the style?

I wish I could take credit, but baskets as props have been around ATS® much longer than I have.  I‘ve always loved basket dances. There is an organic elegance to them, as if we were working in a field and picked up our baskets and started to dance. What I’ve tried to create is a dialect that adds baskets in a natural way… fitting smoothly within the ATS® vocabulary and keeping to the ATS® aesthetic.

It's not only baskets, you also love to incorporate skirts, pots, swords, veils, and fans into improvisation. What drives you to experiment with all these things?

I have always loved using props when performing. It’s not only fun, but I feel it gives some diversity to our performances and challenges us to try new things.

Different props make you view and feel the dance space in different ways. In my troupe, „Dayanisma“, we view precision as important to the overall presentation, so using different props creates challenges, but can also be very rewarding.

You have been at the Black Forest Festival in Germany before.

This is actually my second time teaching at the Black Forest Tribal Fest. I was fortunate enough to teach “Fast Basket” and “Creating an ATS® Set” last year and to perform with my troupe and also with members of the workshop. It was such an amazing experience! This year I will be sharing my “Badass Baskets for Slow Improvisation”- slow ATS® with basket vocabulary. I hope everyone will enjoy what I’m offering and take these techniques home to their own troupes.

What will we see from you on stage in Black Forest?

This year I look forward to performing slow basket with two of my Dayanisma troupe mates, Lisa Allred and Ming Jing Wu. We will then be joined by members of the “Taking It Up a Notch” slow basket workshop. With the colorful baskets and the slow, mesmerizing ATS® movements, the slow basket is beautifully dramatic on stage.

Would you care to tell us a little bit more about your Workshops at the festival?

My first workshop on Friday is “Badass Baskets for Slow Improvisation.” During this workshop, I will lead dancers through a series of slow movements from the ATS® vocabulary, demonstrating how to incorporate the basket with each. We will work on fundamental movements as well as more advanced options.

My second workshop on Saturday is “Badass Baskets for Slow- Taking It Up a Notch.” This workshop is for those looking to add advanced options to their basket improvisation. We will work on more advanced movements and combinations as well as creative ways to incorporate your baskets into fades and rotations. 

Those taking the “Taking It Up A Notch” workshop are welcome to dance with myself and my troupe mates at the Saturday night show!

Dawn Ruckert, Director, Dayanisma