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Persephone Dance Company
Frequenty Asked Questions
The Troupe


What are ATS® and ITS?
What type of music do you use?
Where do your costumes come from?
Where can I get my own?

American Tribal Style® or ATS® is an art form in which dancers share a common and specific vocabulary of movements, formations and cues thus allowing the lead dancer to guide her dance-sisters in a powerful and synchronized performance that is 100% improvised. The lead may change hands many times during a performance and the leader chooses movements in the moment, as she is inspired by the music. This is the magic of the improvisational nature of ATS®. What makes ITS and Persephone different is that we do not adhere strictly to the movements and rules defined by FatChanceBellyDance® and add to our ATS® foundation by adding our own twists and drawing on other sources for inspiration.

We have great respect and love for the ATS® form, however, and feel it is of vital importance that we remain well grounded and versed in the guidelines of ATS®. Doing so allows the members of Persephone Dance Co. to perform and dance in seamless flow of synchronized & improvisational movement with FatChanceBellyDance® and anyone else who is familiar with the ATS® format.

Through many hours of dedicated practice and study dancers learn the critical rules and complexities of movement and music, the keys to the ATS® and ITS forms, however, the true wonder happens when dancers have internalized these rules and can release the need to think about them, allowing them the connect with each other and the music on another level and create the seamless and heartfelt magic of being fully present in the dance. It is art in the making.

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One of the keys of achieving this synchronicity is the time signature of the music that accompanies us. Our fast music is always in counts that can be broken down into 4, slow music can be of any count as the slow movement vocabulary is arrhythmic. Persephone members almost always wear zills (also known as "finger cymbals") while dancing (with the exception of some sword work). Zills are used almost exclusively with fast movements. The Langa is our "standard" zill pattern, although we use other patterns to accent specific movements and many zill patterns exist. Occasionally, chorus members may accompany dancers during slow movements, but the feature dancers do not play the zills, themselves, during these times. The wonderfully talented drummer, Ray Dowler, occasionally accompanies us.

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People are often drawn to the look of ATS® dancers and Persephone Dance Co.'s costuming, which differs greatly from the Oriental style belly dancing costuming most are usually familiar with. This frequently adds to the confusion about the origins of our dance style and is often interpreted as an indication that this style is an ancient rather than modern form. Persephone's look is modified "Tribal", drawn from ethnic adornment from around the world. You will usually find us in long and voluminous skirts and pantaloons, layers of scarves, belts made of mirrors, tassels, beads and embroidery, vintage or ethnic open-backed tops called cholis or heavily coin covered bras. Our hair is most often pulled up and back with flowers and other adornments, enabling the audience and troupe members to clearly see the full beauty of each dancer's back and facilitate reading movement cues. We wear beautiful ethnic inspired and vintage jewelry and often incorporate sword work into our performances.

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Some of it we make ourselves, some of it we find in the oddest of places but much of it is purchased from individuals within the dance community, importers and the internet. Flying Skirts™ and FatChanceBellyDance® carry foundation pieces like our favorite quality cotton cholis. Naka Rali Jewelry carries exquisite authentic vintage tribal jewelry. We encourage dancers and students to get creative and to speak with dancers whose costuming they admire.

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