Belly Dancing has a special appeal to women looking
for exercise and social time with friends. It’s an art, an
exercise, and a form of communication that makes its
practice fun, and it is a very non-judgmental and accepting
way for women of all sizes, types and ages to come together
with a common goal: To learn the vocabulary of dance and
the unspoken language of cues for its improvisation.
Carolena Nericcio created the popular dance style of
American Tribal Style Belly Dance (ATS) in 1987 in San Fran-
cisco, and formed Fat Chance Belly Dance troupe, the largest
group of the style. The troupe was named for the silly rhym-
ing response given to onlookers who came in thinking that
belly dance was exotic entertainment just for their pleasure.
Today, ATS has a devoted worldwide following.
This past April, Carolena traveled from San Francisco to
the Grand Strand in order to teach a special advanced train-
ing session of ATS with our own Roxanne Roundtree, director
of HipNotic Rhythm dance troupe in Myrtle Beach and spoke
with Natural Awakenings.
NA: How would you define American Tribal Style Belly
Dance, especially the term “tribal”?
CN: The name American Tribal Belly Style Dance was
assigned to us by the traditional belly dancers, because they
wanted to set us apart from them. I know it sounds confus-
ing, suggesting something like American Indian dancing plus
belly dancing, but the word tribal actually means dancers
working together – dancing as a group.
NA: How does Fat Chance Belly Dance stand out as an
American Tribal Belly Dance group?
CN: We are the creators of the American Tribal Style
Belly Dance. I’m the originator, and developed the style over
the years I was teaching with the intent that it be improvisa-
tional. I watched how a lead dancer would angle her body
to send cues; not big cues that could be perceived by the
audience, but set cues. When you’re moving with another
person, your body will make slight gestures before you move
or turn, and the other person