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Interview with Dunja,
co-promoter of the
Tribal Fest
in Split

by Marcel Bieger

The Tribal Festival Split immediately catched our eye. Not only because of its unique concept but also because here one more country has discovered belly dance. And wants to celebrate it with others from everywhere. The frontiers are vanishing and from all places artists come in flocks. Like the example Split shows. What a wonderful and reassuring thought. Dunja and Sun, the two promoters, have been very willing to answer all our questions, and Dunja was so kind to give us the following interview.
Graphics and layout: Konstanze Winkler
The Split festival seems to be based on a unique concept, three evenings of Open stage with students and teachers sharing the open stage.

That is correct – we created not only one night of festival performances, but three nights in a row. This way, all of the featured artists (Kami Liddle and Sharon Kihara from the USA, The Uzumé from The Netherlands and Paola Blanton from Brazil) will highlight the festival stage with their innovative and stunning performances. Along with them an international crew of amateurs, semi-professionals, and professionals applied for the open stage performance, so we are proud to announce that during the three of the festival evenings (August 24th – 26th ) an international tribe of 50 dancers will present their art of tribal fusion dancing in the most beautiful open-air stage in the city of Split, surrounded by ancient stone-walls of the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, which creates a great atmosphere and brings a good energy both to the performers as to the audience. Let’s not forget to mention that these evening shows are free and open to the public and the many tourists who stroll around this historic spot. We will also present a world music concert with Mantra Fusion Band from Croatia which will, most definitely, bring some new flavor to every ones’ ears.

You have an admirable mixture of national/Balkan and international artists, of musicians and dancers. What is the idea behind this?

The main idea was to create an international event and to invite everyone interested in fusion belly dance to come to Croatia and visit the city of Split, and hopefully the rest of the Croatia, coastline or inland, sort of fusing a dance-education trip with the chance to have a personalized holiday. Croatia has so much to offer to its visitors:  the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea, more than 1000 islands, many national parks, historic sights and a moderate climate... Proof of that is the increasing number of tourists who visit Croatia every summer, and most of them come from Central-Eastern Europe, Italy, Germany, the UK, Russia and the USA The city of Split offers a unique combination of fun and leisure possibilities - some really nice beaches are settled within a short distance from the city centre. Festival workshops and show venues are also in the wider city center.

Being festival organizers and - on top of that - dance enthusiasts,our goal was also to create an event that will bring the tribal fusion art form closer to the general population.

We strongly believe that if more people know about tribal fusion – the more people would be interested in dancing it and discover a whole new joy.

What do you have to do to perform at the open stage? Is there a form you have to fill out?

The Open Stage Performances at Split Tribal Fest are open to every tribal fusion enthusiast. There is an application form (for a copy please contact in which every performer can choose the preferred night of performance and submit their performance details with some basic info about the music they use and a type of fusion dance they perform.

What other artists are interested in coming, other than those mentioned on your site?

Besides well known European and American tribal dancers, we received a couple of applications from fire artists and world music bands. We are happy and proud that world tribal fusion artists have recognized our event and we are already making plans with some of them for the next festival in 2011.
Is this the first Split festival and how did everything come about?

The first “baby” is almost here. We’re counting a few weeks only … We are very excited to host such a big event featuring amazing dance artists, and we are thankful to everyone who made this event possible: Sharon, Kami, Paola, Tjarda and Renate, all of the open-stage applicants, partners, volunteers who are helping us with logistics and promoting, and the amazing and wonderful dancers from Croatia who support the festival with their great spirit!

It seems that everyone has high expectations and we are eager to match those! We created four days of workshops, evening shows (open stage and the main show), a tribal souk, fair-priced vegetarian catering for the festival participants, a welcome hafla party and an after show party. All details and a time-table will be online soon at the festival web site

Can you tell us something about the belly dance situation in Croatia?

The dance scene is fairly young in Croatia but there is an increasing number of students and of professional belly dancers. The Croatian capital Zagreb is the heart of the scene and it hosts several oriental dance events every year, featuring many international dance professionals. Split Tribal Fest in the coastal town Split is the first and only belly dance festival in Croatia that has about 80 confirmed INTERNATIONAL guests for now, which makes it the largest such event in the region!

( Dunja Cuk Podolski is festival promoter and Open-Stage coordinator,

We also believe that this art form should be recognized and appreciated as much as any other dance or art form. Split Tribal Fest is a good chance to show to the general public that belly dance/tribal fusion can compete with other art forms and that it deserves the large, open-air stage in the most recognizable city square (so called Perystile).
The Perystile, the open-air-stage, below with the Mantra Fusion Band
Co-promoter of the Tribal Fest in Split, Sunčica Dropulić
Photos © Mladen Culic, portrait Dunja © Marijana Bittner