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Interview with Geneva Bybee
by Marcel Bieger
Geneva giving classes
Geneva on tour
Geneva Bybee and "Gabriella"
Photos: With kindly permission of Geneva Bybee,
Isabel de Lorenzo and Gabriele Keiner
Graphics and layout: Konstanze Winkler
Please tell us something about what you did before you started dancing.

I have danced all of my life.  Starting with lessons at a young age, I’ve always been involved in movement: Gymnastics moved to Cheerleading, turning back to dance in Hip Hop and Latin partner work.
How did belly dance get into you’re background?

I recognized Oriental dance through my sister, when I visited her in Los Angeles. She was training, so I attended a workshop with her. After my career in cheerleading, this would  be the next thing for me. It was much easier on my body and gave me a new awareness on body mechanics. I moved Phoenix, Arizona, and started training with a group doing performances and such. I remained part of the group for a couple of years, then began to travel. Everywhere I went, I looked for the local belly dance scene. Most cities or even towns offered some concentration of dancers.
You have been to Europe quite a few times.

I have. I started coming, I guess it was in 2006. I met Gabriella from Dillenburg, Germany, at a festival back in 2005, and she invited me to visit and teach. I was traveling to a festival in England, Tribal Ford.  This was organized by my dear friend, Lindsey MacQueen, whom I danced with in Phoneix. From that time on, I was able to make connections and have many new interested schools to travel and tour again. Europe feels like a second home. Especially at Gabriella’s, it’s my fourth year and I will be coming back again.

What about other continents like Asia or South America.

Well, I’ll be going to South America this coming year (2010) at
late summer. But I haven’t actually been marketing myself for
Asia at this point. I would definitely like to travel to more places
and expand the region beyond Europe, but I also feel like there’s
so much heart here.
This experience has definitely given me a strong career base, but now it’s time to expand my network. I enjoy many of the differences in culture throughout Europe, even getting into the Eastern European countries is great. I hope to buy an Around-the-World ticket one day, and dance with all of the beautiful people of this planet.
Where are you living now?

I am based in Montana, a neighbouring state of Idaho. I’m addicted to traveling and feel fortunate to dance my way around the world. This dance helped feed my addiction (laughs) in a certain way. It’s been really wonderful. I feel that I am a natural teacher, it’s something that comes easy for me. It allows people to learn, mostly about themselves, in fact. The dance reverberates with me on a deeper level. Every time I teach a class, give lessons or workshop, I always feel the difference in situation: the people, the location and cultural interactions. I have never experienced one class to be the same as any other. I’m sure the students can say the same. It’s an amazing opportunity, it’s building my life. I feel very fortunate.

How would you describe your own style?
I take my roots from growing up with Hip Hop, and this for me is more of a rhythm than a learned dance. I pick up really quick on choreographies and memorizing certain combinations. This has helped me become a great observer then create my own style. Often students will change a certain movement I have taught, and I remember (and sometimes utilize) that change and appreciate their own personal style. As I do the same with any movement, it’s important to work with your own body mechanics and create a pleasing, natural expression for you.

When will we see you again in Germany?

I hope to teach again for Gabriella in the near future. Even at the first time I met her, she was always so open and wonderful, so interested and happy. I feel like she has done so much for this country and also for the movement in the Western European nations. I’m very proud to know her and to be a part of her growth and this community of women.

There will be 3 days of group interactions: the forum, 2 evening shows, and 15 workshops with hopes of building a stronger network of Tribal Dance in Europe. Isabel De Lorenzo and Lara Rocchetti of San Lo’ have been so wonderful in creating an amazing base of students with multiple instructors of all forms of movement in the heart of Rome.  Isabel and I met in Milan in 2007, alongside Les Soeurs Tribales, Gypsy Carovan, Darshan, Neas Tribal.  Since this time, we have worked together every year.  San Lo’ feels like my home studio. I hope others can share in this certainty.
Geneva Bybee and Isabel de Lorenzo,
one of the organizers of Roma Tribal
You are also busy in Italy and even organise a Tribal festival with a Roman dance studio.

After traveling and teaching in Italy for over 4 years, I am honored to be a part of the first edition of Roma Tribal Meeting.  This is event was open to a teacher call, and we have selected 7 excellent instructors from Europe and the US whom represent Tribal Dance. We would like to gain a better understanding of Tribal from some of the early followers of the dance, such as Helm, to clarify and give insight into the movement first-hand.  There will be an open forum discussion with all of the instructors to discuss these origins, what’s now happening in their own city, and ideas of the future of Tribal.