Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. ~by Havelock Ellis
Welcome to my website, where it is my hope you will be encouraged to study and learn more about the art of belly dance and about my unique style of belly dance. I have a rich background in dance and was classically trained in ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance from London for 12 years. I began studying belly dance in 2001...
Coming from a Moroccan ancestry, my style reflects my personal interpretation of fusion belly dance, which blends traditional Middle Eastern dance with a modern flavour that is uniquely my own. More information on the history of belly dance and its new genres is provided in the history section.
It is my goal to educate the public about the elevated art form that is belly dance and to share my love of this beautiful and rewarding dance. This goal is attained through my signature performances and through helping the belly dance student intimately understand the basic elements of belly dance; aiding the student in mastering their technique and their personal goals and building a solid foundation in belly dance, as well as developing their artistic, creative side. I believe that yogic and pilates practices, as well as cross training in other dance forms, can enhance the dancer's belly dance practice and technique immensely. In addition, both yoga and belly dance disciplines can greatly enhance one's quality of life. The marriage of yoga, pilates and belly dance is transparent and when one begins to practice these disciplines, the benefits become noticeable in improved dance quality. It is my belief that we want to incorporate equal part stretching and flexibility, alongside strengthening exercise and training. Belly dance, pilates and yoga are interconnected in their strengthening exercises, muscle breakdown and posture technique. Yoga and pilates both incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises and postures involving chest, hips, shoulders, upper and lower back, abdominal muscles, legs, and quads, which directly correlate to our dance practice as well as aid in core strengthening abilities. These exercises build and develop strength in our bodies and lay the foundation of our dance movement and dance posture. Pilates strengthens our core, in turn aiding us in balance and posturing, as well as builds muscle strength to master our belly dance muscle isolations. Yoga calms and centers us, enhancing not only our belly dance stage presence, but our lives.
I encourage you to discover this wonderful world of belly dance and the power it has to profoundly effect your life.
~ "Ariellah Aflalo is one of the hardest working Belly Dancers in the business, and it shows in her technique, costuming, emotion, and refined taste in music and movement choice. She adds her own deliciously dark touch to the dance, and is an absolute pleasure to watch." -Rachel Brice, The Indigo
Ariellah studied classical ballet extensively with the Royal Academy of Dance of London for twelve years, beginning at age three. After a break from dance that included graduating from UC Davis and two years in the Peace Corps on Africa's Ivory Coast, she returned to the United States eager to learn the dance of her Moroccan ancestry.
Trying her hand at belly dance had been a lifelong goal, and was a natural extension of Ariellah's dance career and life experience. Her pursuit of belly dance began with the Folkloric style of Janine Ryle, who studied with San Francisco belly dance institution Hahbi'Ru. Ariellah eventually became a part of Janine's troupe, Danse Maghreb in which she performed mostly Algerian Berber dances. With Ariellah's roots grounded firmly in the culture and tradition of North Africa, belly dance was a natural fit for her. Janine encouraged her desire to learn from as many sources as possible, and suggested that she take classes with Rachel Brice, who is currently one of the most sought after belly dancers in the world and is currently touring internationally as a soloist, as well as with The Bellydance Superstars and The Indigo. Ariellah began studying Tribal Fusion belly dance with Rachel Brice in early 2002 and became a founding member of Rachel's Indigo Belly Dance Company in 2003.
Ariellah has become a renown international instructor and performer. She is an icon in the fusion belly dance community and has been featured in several different magazines, books, radio shows, and articles all over the world. In 2004, Ariellah won first place in the Star Fusion category of Sirens In Sanity's belly dance competition, Enchanted Camelot, held in Benecia, CA. Ariellah was also featured in the first of its kind, "Gothic Belly Dance: The Darker Side of Fusion" DVD; released in spring 2006, with the sequel, "Revelations" released in the fall of 2007. Ariellah is also featured on performance DVDs "Bellydance Underworld", "Tribal Revolution" and many others. Currently Ariellah's first instructional DVD, "Contemporary Belly Dance and Yoga Conditioning" is one of the top selling and top rated belly dance DVDs on the market today. Please check out the reviews at: www.amazon.com.
Ariellah's style reflects and infuses her personal interpretation of Middle Eastern belly dance, with a modern, dark flavour, that is uniquely her own. She is widely known for her strong stage presence and unrivaled technique. Her performances are designed to mesmerize and invoke emotion and the darker, more passionate side of dance. Ariellah believes her style emanates from the passion and contentment that belly dance has brought to her life, as well as the infusion of her lifelong involvement in the gothic subculture, allowing her to fully express herself in a unique and beautifully dark way.
As a classically trained professional dancer, Ariellah understands the importance of each event to which she is invited, and she strives, with each performance, to create just the right mood.
What is Tribal Fusion Belly Dance?
Belly dance is one of the oldest forms of dance. The style of this ancient dance has evolved over the years, but at its core it remains the same. It is my understanding that all belly dance styles have a basis in Middle Eastern dance that come originally from the villages of North Africa and the Middle East. This dance spread all over the world, taking on a slightly different form in Egypt and other places in the Middle East in later years, now called "Cabaret" or "Oriental" style. It then came to America in the 1890s for the first time appearing at the Chicago World's Fair. From there the dance spread across the United States. Over the last century belly dance has taken on many new forms, all based in the original, classic Middle Eastern movements. In California in the 1960's there was a belly dancer by the name of Jamila Salimpour who took these classic movements and gave them a name and a format; taking this dance to another level and changing it into a skilled art form, like any other such as ballet or piano. Jamila Salimpour taught most of the belly dancers active in the bay area today. Those dancers, in turn taught more dancers. One of them being Masha Archer, who then went on to teach Carolena Nericcio, who went on to create an entire new genre of belly dance called American Tribal Style(ATS). She named her belly dance company Fat Chance Belly Dance. This style of belly dance fused many different ethnicities in its dance form and also brought in a unique aspect of belly dancing, where one dancer leads the set of other dancers in improvisational style dancing. The dance has many cues and movements all created by Carolena Nericcio. Cues were developed for each step or combination, usually an arm or head movement that could be easily viewed by the other dancers on stage.
I believe that ATS became the gateway to creating Tribal Fusion Belly Dance and all sorts of other new and creative styles of belly dance. ATS used different costuming than traditional cabaret or folkloric styles, as well as different hair costuming and allowed dancers to express themselves with tattoos, piercings and all sorts of jewelry and adornments. In fact, an abundance of adornment became the norm. And it also led to a fusing of different styles of music that were not necessarily Middle Eastern. From this evolved Tribal Fusion, with dancers like Rachel Brice, Heather Stants, Jill Parker, Mira Betz, Mardi Love and many others, all pushing the envelope, and fusing the elements from different cultures as well as stylizing the dance in their own unique way. They moved away from the improv style of dance and moved toward choreography. Bringing a modern, new, creative element to an old ancient dance. But at its core there remains the basic movements of Middle Eastern belly dance, with a few other ethnic influences, modern fusion music and personal stylizations layered on top.
It is my belief that tribal fusion belly dance, as well as dark fusion belly dance, captures the beauty from all dance but allows for new and creative interpretations. It represents a highly skilled art form that commands respect, and emmanates beauty.
What is Dark Fusion Belly Dance?
From my point of view, dark fusion belly dance is one of the many offshoots of tribal fusion belly dance. Dark fusion belly dance taps into the more theatrical, dramatic, passionate and emotional side of belly dance. It utilizes the basic elemental movements of belly dance and mixes them with the dancer's darker stylizations, music and costuming. In my case as a dancer, I infused my belly dance movements with my own personal character and personality which contains much of the gothic subculture lifestyle, attitude, stylings and tastes.
Dark fusion belly dance is a mental and physical aesthetic that a dancer has inside their being, which manifests through their dance. There is a continuim of the dancer's gothic aesthetic, so to speak, that is brought to the table. I have noted that in dark fusion belly dance performances, a deep emotion is invoked in the audience and there is a sense of the audience being brought into the performance. The energy that flows from the dancer is strong and piercing and draws the audience in with its expressiveness.
How is this accomplished? Well, for one, the hands are most expressive and the energy conveyed and released in the hands and fingertips can be powerful and far reaching. Facial expressions and stage presence play a great role in dark fusion belly dance...it can be done with the eyes, gazing right into the eyes of the audience, imploring them to feel your feelings, as well as a tilt of the head this way or that way to express a thought or emotion or storyline or simply to command attention or engage or capture the surprise of the audience. I also find that in dark fusion belly dance storylines can range from fantasy type stories invoking dark shadows or snakes or myths, or invoking deities or ritual based, or simply the dancers own story, emotion and expression...
In your practice and training and performance, I encourage you to elevate your dance and find that balance between technique and artistry and emotion and dance...I encourage you to bring a higher energy to all of your movements and an awareness of your posture and an awareness of your emotions and of your own style of belly dance and how that comes through; bring drama to your dance...bring YOURSELF to your dance...elevate it...and shine ever so brightly...