Shades of Araby are Toronto's first American Tribal Style (ATS) bellydance troupe. Sharing a love of the Tribal esthetic in bellydance, Maral, Sofia and Valizan united to form the troupe in early 2006, and Karina joined the troupe in 2009. They have appeared at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada, Tribally Yours in Montreal, Tribal:Pura in Milwaukee, Dark Fire in London, Shimmy for a Cure in Erie PA, TribalCon in Atlanta and a variety of shows in Toronto and southern Ontario.
ATS is a modern fusion dance style created by FatChanceBellyDance of California. Drawing its movements, costuming, and general inspiration from the Tribal cultures of the Middle East, Northern Africa/Maghreb, India and Spain, ATS is a fascinating combination of many different influences.
One of the main distinguishing features of the style is the group improvisation; there is no choreography. Carefully studied and perfected movements and positions are combined during the dance and are signaled by subtle cues in order to create the illusion of perfect synchronicity. In this way every performance is unique and exciting both for performers and audience.
The moves in American Tribal Style dance are more proud and earthy than classical "Raks Sharqi" style bellydance, conveying the strength and beauty of the dancers and emphasizing the group dynamics. The stance and arm movements are heavily influenced by flamenco dance, and the costumes are very layered and use vintage textiles and heavy jewellery for a lavish effect.
About The Troupe
Valizan began his journey into Middle Eastern dance in 1995 when he joined The Society For Creative Anachronism, an educational group that learns about the Middle Ages by recreating it. Teachers Rayah Bint Youssef and Moria The Black instilled basic technique, while classes with the sublime Roula Said took him to a new plateau. Current influences include Yasmina Ramzy, FatChance Bellydance, Jillina, Rachel Brice and Francisco Carranza.
He has become a sought after solo performer and teacher for his powerful style and energy. Local appearances include Arabesque Dance Company's Asala, and Oum, The International Bellydance Conference Of Canada, Tribally Inspired, Northern Migration, The Dark Side and Face Zenna at the Royal Ontario Museum. He also headlined In The Heat Of The Hafla in Milwaukee, Belly Boo Bash in Dayton, Ohio and appeared at Cabin Fever and The Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY.
He was honoured to have been included in the 2007 Men Of Middle Eastern Dance Calendar put out by Jim Boz.
He began teaching American Tribal Style bellydance at Arabesque Academy in 2004, and became an apprentice in the Arabesque Dance Company in November 2005 when he began training in Egyptian Folklore with master teacher Yasmina Ramzy. He is honoured to be a lead dancer in the Arabesque Dance Company, and in the new project, The Righteous Rogues Of Raks.
Valizan holds a degree from The Ryerson School Of Journalism, took the Arabesque Academy Pro Course, and recently became the first male to graduate from the FatChanceBellyDance Teacher Training program and became a FatChanceBellydance Brother Studio in 2010.
The learning continues...
Maral has always loved to dance; she took ballet classes since childhood but since starting bellydance at Arabesque Academy in 2003 she's never looked back; bellydance has become deeply ingrained in everything she does. While she currently dances ATS and Tribal Fusion, she still has a great love for classical Egyptian bellydance. She is currently studying ATS under Valizan and continuing her Egyptian bellydance studies at at Arabesque. She has taken workshops with Rachel Brice and Zoe of The Indigo as well as FatChanceBellyDance, Freyja, Khafif, Bellyqueen, Asharah, Ariellah, Kassar, Donna Mejia and Les Trib'elles.
Karina started learning Egyptian style bellydance at Arabesque Academy and now studies under Valizan. She is also a fantasy and science fiction writer with short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She has taken workshops with Asharah, Ariellah, Devyani and Donna Mejia.
Sofia started dancing in 2001 and learned from Lava in British Columbia; after moving to Ontario she studied with Alexis Yael, Valizan, Audra of Dark Side Studio and Les Trib'elles, and has taken workshops with Zoe of The Indigo as well as FatChanceBellyDance, Freyja and Khafif. She is currently performing with Ethereal Tribal of Montreal.