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A Total Body Experience

by: bree

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The Art of Tribal Belly Dance is a unique form of belly dance that started in the West Coast, California specifically. It incorporates various types of dances such as Flamenco and North African dances, and Middle Eastern dances.

Yael Ortiz is a tribal belly dance instructor at the Moving Arts Institute.  She has always had a passion for dancing since she was just a child and began her first modern dance and ballet class at the age of 25.   Her teacher noticed her natural gift for dancing and within a few weeks dubbed her a natural! She continued dancing but then stopped for a few years and put dancing on, “the back burners of her life” due to various reasons.  It wasn’t until she moved to Philadelphia where she would pick up dance again at a local high school, where she learned how to belly dance.   She later found Tribal Belly Dance and grew to love it more than any other dance.  She describes it as a form of sister hood and a community where women can find tranquility, friendship, and exercise.

Reporting on this particular art has been especially intriguing for me because I’ve been taking tribal belly dance for two years now,  and it is a life changing experience that I will carry on for the rest of my life. Yael is a fantastic teacher and  I appreciate the sisterhood, sense of culture, and dance skills that I gain from dancing with the women in my class.

 My favorite move so far is called Turkish.  It entails a back and forth motion of one foot while the other remains in place.  This movement allows a natural flowing of the hips and arms, creating graceful lines that are beautiful to watch.  Another aspect of this dance is what Yael calls the “Turkey Butt,” a motion which requires the dancer to deliberately accentuate her rear end when she steps back.  Turkish also has a specific rhythm when a dancer is using zills—the hand held mini symbols that add music (another artistic dimension) to belly dancing.  I’m just learning to use zills, and it’s not as easy as it might seem, but it’s fun!  Perhaps you will visit the Moving Artz center and join the sisterhood.

The Moving Arts Institute is located at 1750 Ashbourne Rd. Elkins Park, PA 19027

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The project, is funded as part of PNC Arts Alive, a five-year, $5 million investment from The PNC Foundation that supports visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement.

29 Responses to “A Total Body Experience”

  1. Heather says:

    Abington Art Center is adding Belly Dancing to our classes for winter session. Tuesday mornings with Hayla. Check it out at

  2. Yael says:

    Such a lovely post and I am so proud of the lovely and strong dancer you are becoming!

  3. Donna~Q~ says:

    What a lovely post. Yael is a beautiful dancer and she totally embodies the spirit of Tribal-style, which (as you mentioned) embraces the concept of “sisterhood” and features dancing as a community. One of the other things I like about bellydance is that it also helps promote positive body image, specifically in relation to women.

  4. BJ says:

    Nice post. I love tribal style, there’s an energy available when people dance together that’s just not there when dancing by yourself. Watching Yael dance and dancing with her is a wonderful experience.

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  7. ernestine settles says:

    11/26/10 Ern Says,
    luv. the info. on TRIBAL BELLY DANCING. giving
    serious thought to trying it. luv. the sister hood
    thing. we need plenty of that! What a wonderful way
    of experiencing sisterhood and a sense of belonging
    through the art of “TRIBAL BELLY DANCE” By the way,


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