American Tribal Style (ATS) is modern style of belly dance created by Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellydance in San Francisco, CA.
ATS is a lead-and-follow style of dance that is largely improvisational. Dancers move on cues from the lead dancer. ATS is characterized by beautifully costumed dancers, the lead & follow formations, vibrant music and a "tribal" cooperation.
ATS, as I see it, is a style that is taught with a focus on performing. Enrolling in an ATS class does not require you to perform, just as it does not guarantee that you will. We learn movements and formations that enable us to dance together and for an audience. Learning ATS and especially learning to perform ATS requires that you get to know your fellow dancers. The dance is communication, cooperation and trust.
Yes, the costuming is part of the dance. With ATS you're going for a particular 'look'. The movements, the attitude and the costuming; it's all part of the package deal. ATS costuming is inspired by the ethnic diversity of the dance moves. The open-back choli top is from northern India, the full skirts are flamenco inspired (as are the hand floreos). Pantaloons are very traditional in the middle east, perhaps originally from Turkey or Morocco.
Beginners to the dance need not worry about costuming. Take the time to learn the movements and to get a feel for ATS. Don't spend a ton of money on costuming yet, it's simply not necessary. As you fall in love with ATS, you will want to start to dress the part. Talk to troupe members about what to shop for. They'll be happy to point you in the right direction!
If you're going to learn to bellydance, you're going to need music. The music we will use in class is from Tribal Dance, Tribal Drums, FatChanceBellydance.and - all three by Helm, available through the catalog at
For beginners I HIGHLY recommend you purchase Tribal Dance, Tribal Drums and/or Itneen. Both CDs are an incredible value for your money. Itneen is my personal favorite for beginners because the songs are fantastic and you get a nice mix of slow and fast music.