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"Colors of Tribal"
Show of Tribal D.A.CH. Verein
July, 29th 2011 in Elsoff

The Show Interviews


Interview with Wendy Allen

by Marcel Bieger

Would you be so kind to tell us something about your life before FCBD (is there life before?)

I was very shy, and had horrible self-esteem.  I never thought I could really DANCE.

I have always had a desire to perform, and tried my hand at a few things, mostly acting, and sang lead for a band in the early 90's. I was too self conscious to be a good actor, and had too much stage fright to be a decent singer. It wasn't until I started taking classes with FCBD that I found my home.

Wendy Allen
Homepage FatChanceBellyDance:
Photos ©: 1 and 2 Kristina Adams, alle others © Wendy Allen
Did you ever dream of becoming a member of FCBD?

I dreamed of it, but never thought it possible. After the years of rejection in acting, I never dared hope I could actually be in FCBD. I decided to approach dance as something I was doing for myself, with no ambition toward even performing. I did a few student shows, then so many gigs were coming the troupe's direction that an advanced student group was formed to take on some of the overflow. I got really involved in performing with this group, known as Second Skin.  I was completely surprised when I was invited in to the troupe.

Would you please explain your specific role or position inside FCBD?

I book gigs for the troupe, and manage the troupe when Carolena is out of town.

In the light of the worldwide huge success of the FCBD and you being a part of it, has there ever been a moment, when you felt that this weight was to heavy for you – and how did you make this feeling go away, maybe you have some advice for our readers.

I laugh when I think about it. My first trip to Germany to teach, I had a panic attack on the plane. I started thinking, "What am I doing? I'm a fraud! They're gonna find me out!". But, I was already committed, so I had to do it. And once I did it once, I knew I could do it again, and that I DID know what I was doing.  So my advice is, always give it a try. Don't let fear stop you from doing the things you want to do.

And on the other side, what were your most joyous, happy and fulfilling moments at FCBD?

The first time I stepped onto the stage at Amira, looking across the circle to see Carolena smiling at me.Dancing to a sold out house at the Fillmore (a historic music venue in SF). Traveling, and sharing my love of this dance form.

Since music is a vital part of dancing, how do you choose and select the right assortment of music tracks for a performance or any other event (for instance for Germany).

Well, I look at who's dancing, and their experience level, the venue and the event, and go from there. If it is a student performance, I will choose easier songs for them to dance to.

If it's an event in a nightclub, I will most likely lean toward more modern music. On the other hand, if it's a night club belly dance event with a lot of fusion, we will go with a more folkloric set.

For daytime summer festivals, I like more folkloric music. But we also take into consideration what the dancers want to dance to.

Have you ever danced to live music/a live band? What kind of experiences have you made with this and what kind of advice would you give a young dancer or tribe?

Yes, we dance with Helm whenever we can. For the style of dance we do, live music can sometimes be unpredictable-much faster or slower in performance, phrases may be dropped or added. You have to really learn to go with the flow, and be comfortable enough with improvisation to be able to make it through those times with poise. Communicating with the musicians is key-one of the first questions we ask is if they'll play the song like it is on the CD, so we know what to expect.

Fat Chance Belly Dance
And maybe what is more important, how did you find your way to tribal style/ATS.

In the early 90's I told a friend I wanted to learn to belly dance. She said, "you should take classes with FatChance. I think you'd really like their style." I didn't know what that meant, but it stuck in my head that I needed to take classes with FCBD. It took a few years for me to actually do it. After my first class, I didn't go back. It was too hard, and I wasn't in a good place in my life.  I left feeling clumsy and discouraged.
In 1996 I went to this festival in the Nevada desert called Burning Man. At Burning Man I was struck by the fact that anyone could contribute art, and I thought, 'This place needs belly dancers!'. I swore when I came home I was FINALLY going to start classes. My birthday wasn't long after, and a friend gave me a set of zills, and I thought, 'well, that's it! I HAVE to do it now.' So I did, and got hooked.

I still didn't have any idea there were different styles of belly dance until I went to my first Rakkassah. After that day, I was SO happy to have found FatChance. It was so much more suited to my personality and sense of style.
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