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Tell me A little Q&A

The organizers of the Northern Migration Tribal/Alternative Bellydance Festival want you to know: What you'll see at their event is not your grandmother's bellydance.

Tribal fusion and gothic tribal fusion are bellydance variations that have been innovated in the United States over the past few decades. They will be featured at the festival, which begins today in Asbury Hall at the Church, 341 Delaware Ave. The event will include daytime workshops, vendors, a student performance tonight and a gala instructor and special guest performance on Saturday. For nonparticipants, Saturday night's festivities may be your best bet -- tickets are $20, and all are welcome. For more info, visit northernmigration.net or call 839-2456.

Sashi of Ascend Tribal Dance, 36, is in from California to teach and perform. She spoke recently by phone from her home in Orange County.

>How do these forms of bellydance differ from what most of us think of as "bellydancing"?

The concept of "tribal" is communal, versus the traditional "cabaret" bellydancing -- this is a group improvisational dance. There is a vibe. We commune with each other while we are dancing, and let the audience have an experience with us.

>You will teach a workshop this weekend titled "Decapitation, Dismemberment & Entrails: Evil Little Drill Combinations for Gothic Tribal Fusion Belly Dance." Please explain.

I am known for my sense of humor. The gothic tribal fusion style has a distinct look and requires a lot of physically isolating movements; one part of the body is still, and other parts move. To help students gain the background they need, I came up with these strengthening drills for the three parts of the body: arm, head and shoulder; chest and torso; and hip and leg.

>How did you get into dancing?

At San Francisco State University, I got to experience everybody's culture through the amazingly diverse dance department. I wanted to pursue bellydance because of my own Semitic culture.

>Are you a trained choreographer?

No, but from experience performing in choreographed troupes, I've had wisdom imparted to me of how to incorporate your vision of movement in relation to the music.

>Who can do this dancing?

I believe that any kind of dance should be open to anybody, and anyone should be free to walk into any class. Tribal bellydance tries to be as welcoming as possible, and I go out of my way to help people feel welcome in my classes.

-- Jana Eisenberg, Special to The News

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