Hi, world.

It’s a nice summer evening in Katowice, Poland, I’m sitting on my own on a summer terrace in a bar with the amazing name Absurdalna (‘the Absurd Place’) and besides having my beer and frytki I’m working on the intro to my dance blog – the one I have been planning for 3 months already. I’m Maria from Ukraine, now staying in Poland for a playback theater project – and I’m a dancer, researcher and a bit (nope) of adventure seeker.

First of all, you may ask why I’m talking about the summer if it’s September already? See, I’ve been procrastinating with this blog for a half of year already and finally got the guts to publish it. So let’s me start once again: it’s a nice autumn day in Katowice, I’m sitting at my table near the window, catching already-not-so-warm sunlight and having my cup of tea. A nice day to start a blog, really.

So, now you may ask why the belly dance blog is called like that?

Here you go: in 2018-2020 I’ve been studying Dance Anthropology (yes, this thing exists). I arrived to the programme full of dreams that my studies would help me to become a better dancer. Well, by the end of my programme tired of endless reading, writing, reading, writing, reading, writing (about dance, of course) I felt like I hated anything connected with dance. 

Besides giving me a deeper understanding of a dance style I’ve been practicing, my studies seemed to kill my passion for it. ‘Yes, I love bellydancing but I kinda hate it too already, you know?’. When you dive deep into all the socio-historical implications hiding behind the romanticised image of the style, you really start hating it a bit.

Spoiler: it’s the year 2021 now and I’m giving dance classes again and even starting this blog, so I guess that was just a post-Masters syndrome (haven’t you hated your thesis and your uni and everything whatsoever once you’re done with your studies? That’s it). However, the socio-historical implications of belly dance are quite real and objective – and exist beyond my student experience. And that’s why I’m starting this blog.

As dancers and practitioners, we know that our art form (belly dance, tribal fusion, oriental dance, middle eastern dance, MENAHT inspired dance, or however you call it) is unique and complex. And the key to understanding its complexities lies in understanding and researching the history of this dance and its different socio-cultural interpretations. I see my task in presenting these interpretations to you – presenting from the Eastern European point of view (remember that histories can be constructed differently depending on which part of the world you are looking from). I’m taking you to the anthropological research expedition through scientific papers and field logs, through the interviews and blogs, through magazine articles and my observations – and I hope you will find this journey interesting and exciting. 

 But wait, let me tell you one more reason for my blog title. 

 In summer 2019 I’ve got a task from my master’s programme – travel to any place in the world and do a mini-research on any topic you want (about dance, of course, hehe). Of course, I’ve chosen tribal fusion as my research subject and travelled to two beautiful cities in the Southern Europe to work with local dancers. I hope to introduce to you all of my interviewees as their contribution to my dissertation and to my papers is priceless (and I still owe them a proper result of my work and I promise here that I will deliver it). But now let’s focus on something they all mentioned while talking to me. Probably every person I know from the tribal dance community back home can relate to a phrase that I’ve heard every now and then during the interviews: 

 – But actually… I don’t really like belly dance.

  I loved so much this unconsciousness synchronisation of how they told me that’s why I’ve chosen tribal fusion  that I even used it as a title for my dissertation. Because I think that nothing depicts better the intricated relationship between mainstream belly dance and tribal fusion (or again – however you call it now) than the same phrase repeated again and again in every other interview with fusionistas ‘But you know… I don’t really like belly dance’ – but I actually dance it because tribal fusion IS belly dance. If you are from the same tribal fusion background as me, you probably don’t like the last statement and planning to tell me ‘Noooooo, tribal fusion is a different thing’! Sure, let’s talk about it here – I’m seeing this blog as a platform for discussions about fusion and belly dance: is it same, is it different, is it even tribal still (spoiler: no)?

 See, how much interesting stuff is there to research and to talk about? Should we start our journey? 

 PS. And there is a third reason for a title. It just sounds damn bold for a belly dance blog, doesn’t it? 😀


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