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Grafik und Layout: Konstanze Winkler
First Roma Tribal Meeting

- by Rossella Milone

(translated from the Italian into English by
Sheilagh Falcigno)

We are proud to present a festival report by Rossella Milone, a famous writer in Italy and also a belly dancer. She performed at the 1st Roma Tribal Festival in November 2010, and she wrote down her impressions of this first Tribal gathering in Central Italy, in Rome, to be exact. Please be prepared for a report like you have never read before. Unfortunately Rossella Milone doesn’t write English, so a translator had to be found, one, who was able to transfer her word images into English word images. Fortunately she was found in the person of Sheilagh Falcigno.
"Inspiration is like a city that is preparing a festival.  Excitement is like approaching the starting line at a race, or diving into the ocean and feeling the immensity of the space all around you.  Joy is coming home after a long day’s work, and sinking into the comfort of a favourite couch."
The weekend of November 19th-21st 2010, Rome’s premier ethnic dance studio, San Lo', was transformed into that festive city, that sea of endless possibilities, that favourite comfortable couch. Here, in a world comprised of ethnic music, spacious rehearsal rooms, and a small (albeit well-stocked) souk, eighty students and thirty-five artists gathered for the first ever Rome Tribal Meeting. The event was conceived and organized by Isabel De Lorenzo and Lara Navarra Roccheti, founders and directors of San Lo', and US teacher and performer Geneva Bybee.

This first large gathering of tribal oriental dance was central Italy’s first, in the heart of Rome’s historic San Lorenzo district. Like so many great ideas, it was born of necessity.  A need was felt to provide a venue where different artists, dancers and musicians, could meet and congregate, to compare their different approaches, and to share their individual experiences, personal as well as artistic. At this extraordinary crossroads of dance, life work, and individual purpose singular voices were fused together to create an endless song.
Workshops, seminars, round tables, open stages  and performances were the means by which every dancer – and dance in general - were given the opportunity to nurture their art through joyous, interactive, and genuine contact with one another. Left behind was a panorama that is too often confused and disinterested in true artistic evolution, where ‘professionalism’ is too often marked by little more than glittering sequins.  Here was Spirit – that of sharing and collaboration – that has breathed life into Tribal dance from its inception.
The first Roma Tribal Meeting‘s workshops and performances showcased disciplines ranging from classical Tribal to more daring Tribal Fusion, from  ATS to Gothic Fusion, from the most basic techniques to more dramatic approaches inspired by theatrical works. Among the nationally and internationally known artists and teachers were: Kimberly McKoy, Geneva Bybee, Nakari Dance Company, Saada Tribal Group, Francesca Pedretti & De Nova Luce, Silviah, Carovana Tribale, Alexis Southall, Hydrus Tribal, Clan Mabon, Valentina Bulzi, Martina Filippi and Rosella Milone.
The eccentric Guests of Honour, band Helm, came from San Francisco to share the stage with the dancers, and, along with the breathtaking Takadum Orchestra, delivered an unbelievable performance. Together they channeled the ferocity and energy of ancient traditional musicals, the force of which we can still feel beating under our feet and which still seeks to be seen in the light of our times. Bare feet, crossed hands and tinkling cymbals merged together to transform the stage into the melding the Meeting intended to create from its genesis: a dance ensemble where the parts became the whole and the whole became a celebration that enriched not only the artists, but the entire public, allowing everyone to become a part of and interact with this incredible dance that is both voracious and demanding.
Yet the most exciting, the most emotional, moment came neither on stage nor during the lessons in the classrooms. No, instead it came when all were seated on the ground in the large and welcoming entrance hall of San Lo', enthroned on an imaginary fire in a structure made of wood and beams. Here is where friends and colleagues old and new chatted, discussed and bandied about ideas. Here questions were posed and answered about the origins, the nature, and the significance of the word (and the dance) TRIBAL. A room full of surprised voices, attentive ears and passionate eyes.  Here, in the midst of the human sea that is dance, Ling Shien (member of Helm) put it into words. In English she told how her music begins in her belly and flows to her feet and then to her hands; hands that transform her dance into music with a flute or a darbuka.  Neither English, nor words, nor the music of her voice were necessary to hypnotize the crowd. Her hands alone, dancing in the air, bestowed her meaning like a simple, precious, gift.

Riding on the wave of this blessing will be the second Roma Tribal Meeting. Just as last year, it will be organized by and held at San Lo' from 18-20 November, 2011.

Isabel de Lorenzo und Lucilla
Carovana Tribale
Geneva Bybee
Rosella Milone
Nakari Dance Company
Clan Mabon
Kimberly McCoy
Martina Filippi
Alexis Southall
Ling Chien von "Helm" und Isabel de Lorenzo
Photos © Donatella Francati