Over the past century, belly dance has developed from a regional Middle Eastern folk dance to a continually evovling and internationally practiced style. The growth of the dance has led to the emergence of numerous distinct styles and sub-genres, lending a diversity and richness to the community. At Saffron we aim to represent as much as possible this range of styles through both our technique and performance class offerings.
Designed by Saphira after teaching over a thousand beginner through professional students for over 15 years, Saffron Oriental presents Egyptian Classical and Folk inspired Raqs Sharqi ("belly dance").
The teaching approach includes how to break down and explain each movement in a clear and accessible way. Each week students will build skill and knowledge to create movement from specific muscles, learn how that movement corresponds to oriental music and rhythms, and experience hands-on corrections to challenge and accelerate their progress.
American Tribal Style Belly Dance (ATS) is a modern belly dance style based on a codified method of group improvisation. Created by Carolena Nericcio, director of the San Fransisco-based FatChanceBellyDance, ATS's roots are an eclectic blend of classic Egyptian Cabaret, Folkloric and other world dance influences. The word “American” emphasizes the style's departure from traditional Middle Eastern belly dance, while “Tribal” acknowledges both the “tribal” aesthetic of the costumes and makeup, as well as the emphasis on working collectively as a group through use of an improvisational follow-the-leader format. In order to facilitate this group improvisation format, all steps all start with the gesture on the right side. The dancers tended to angle to the left so that the hips are displayed to the audience while allowing the “lead dancer” to be clearly seen by the “follow dancers”. In performance and practice, ATS belly dance represents a powerful display of women working together in cooperation - a group of individuals focused on presenting the dance as one cohesive entity.
Saffron's Folkloric program draws on the rich and varied folk dance traditions of Egypt, the Levant, and the Arabian Gulf. Spearheaded by Master Instructor and native Egyptian Faten, Saffron Folkloric technique introduces students to the music, costuming and movement vocabulary of a diverse range of dances that have influenced modern belly dance performance. The Folkloric repertoire includes:
- Saidi/Assaya (stick dance from Southern Egypt)
- Haggalah (social ritual dance from Western Egypt )
- Khaligy (womens' hair dance from the Gulf)
- Dabke (regional line dance popular throughout the Levant)
- Ghawaze (Egyptian "gypsy" style)
- Simsimeyya/Bambuti ("sailor" dance from the Port Said/Suez Canal region)
- Fallahi (Egyptian farm larborer dance from the Delta region)
Both tradition and innovation are encouraged at Saffron. While the Folkloric and Oriental programs ground students in traditional and core bellydance movement, the Fusion program allows students to explore more modern applications of their bellydance technique. Experimentation is encouraged and allows faculty to draw on their diverse dance training backgrounds to create exciting Fusion material for students. Past Fusion choreographies have included elements from jazz, ballet, classical Indian dance, Persian dance, salsa, and Balkan Folk dance. Musical influences range from contemporary Top 40 hits to world music to the Blues.
Co-created by Moria Chappell, Jenna Shear, and Bagoas, Saffron's Tribal program traces its lineage from both the roots and branches of the Tribal Fusion family tree. Primary influences include Suhailia Salimpour and Bal Anat, Carolena Nericcio and Fat Chance Bellydance, as well as Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, and The Indigo.
Saffron's Tribal Fusion program places special importance on an anatomical approach to dance through Moria's Muscular Belly Dance Technique (MBDT). First, students grasp movements through Saffron's signature approachable and and beginner-friendly breakdowns. Then, as students progress, they begin to finess their technique through a fine-tuned understanding of which muscles activate which movements. This intellectual understanding of body mechanics empowers students to safely go deeper into their technique and self correct during personal practice. Students experience hands-on corrections throughout their training to compliment verbal instruction and accelerate their progress.