So I know this was ages ago, but I just found the beginnings of this post in my Drafts and decided to finish it. Mainly because it features Caroleena Nerricio. Read on!
If you missed Manhattan Tribal’s Tribal Pura showcase (July 15th, 2011) featuring Caroleena Nericcio and Megha Gavin, I hate to say it, but you missed out. Big time. Produced at the intimate Helen Mills Theater, audience members were able to sit just a few feet away from living legends in the history of bellydance. The performance included pieces by:
- Tribe Hamsa (directed by Maria Naja Richardson with Kara and Stephanie)
- Uyum Dans (Elisheva and Kittarina)
- Lunar Collective (directed by Trisha McBride with Kelly Brown)
- Dolls of Eden (directed by Nikki Baksh, performed by Hannah Kanstroom, Lauren Molina, and Micaela Piccolo)
- Anahid Sofian (!)
- Dalia Carella
- Caroleena Nerricio and Megha Gavin
- and of course, Manhattan Tribal (directed by Mimi Fontana with Heather Bondra, Kate Reid, Debbie Lakis, Maria Naja Richardson, Stephanie Rubino-Ginsburg, and Rachel Ehrlich)
Having seen Rachel Brice, Zoe Jakes, and Mardi Love perform in the Big Apple this year, the opportunity to see Caroleena, the creator of American Tribal Style, up close and personal was icing on the cake. In some ways, I think of her as my savior in dance. Without visionaries like Caroleena, I never would have found the dance style that turned my dance life around. Before discovering Tribal Fusion bellydance, I had resigned myself to adulthood without a professional or semi-professional dance career. I had thought that my four years of undergrad would be the last of my glory days, and so I jumped wholeheartedly (and somewhat misguidedly) into dance teams and classes. But I’ve found a lifelong friend in Tribal Fusion, and I’ll be damned if I don’t dedicate my whole life to exploring this art form.
Caroleena was truly a vision. I’d always found ATS beautiful but not exactly expressive. It plays off the music well, and I enjoy the group dynamic, but I never really got a sense of each dancer’s individuality–something I find indispensable to an honest performance. Watching Caroleena opened up a whole new world of potential for me. Her musicality was so utterly precise that every movement felt fuller and more complete. Just when you thought the beat was going to pass her by, she’d move giving you time to appreciate both the step and the woman performing it. Also, her smile is beautiful. She has this natural twinkle in her eye that just doesn’t come across on video. Watching her on YouTube, I always thought her rather severe, but in person, she’s positively radiant. Talk about changing the atmosphere in the room.
Furthermore, the similarity between her performance persona and Rachel Brice’s is unprecedented. Yes, I understand that Caroleena has been both a teacher and mentor to Rachel Brice, but they have the same meditative quality, the same deep musicality, the same soft smile, and even the same crinkles at the eye! It’s uncanny, and I can’t believe I’ve never heard anyone mention it before.
Out of the shows, I’ve seen in NYC, Tribal Pura was really one of the best. It gave a nod to the greats in our area (Anahid Sofian and Dalia Carella) while featuring some great, progressive dancers (Uyum Dans and Lunar Collective). Although I could have done without Dolls of Eden (a horrifically cliche attempt at angst/sexiness and a terrifying costume malfunction involving see-thru leggings and no underwear), I really look forward to seeing future shows produced by Mimi Fontana and Manhattan Tribal. I am forever indebted to this troupe for brining Caroleena to the East Coast.