C is for Cues (and Tattoos)

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Retirement is a time for exploring new interests and reconnecting with old passions. My dear friend Virginia was in Seattle this weekend for a belly dance event, and I spent Saturday with her at Seattle Center, surrounded by colorful, exotic dancers. The Cues and Tattoos dance festival focused on Tribal Style and fusion style belly dance, something I didn’t know much about until now. Basically, U.S. belly dancers speak of “cabaret/oriental style” and “ATS.” ATS is performed in groups and is improvisational rather than choreographed, with troupe members taking turns as the leader who cues her fellow dancers which step is coming up next. Their costumes and adornment reflect a different aesthetic than cabaret dancers’, with colorful turbans, ethnic jewelry, voluminous skirts, and plenty of tattoos.

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I’m told this is called a “hair garden.”Cues and Tattoos 043

The founder of ATS, Carolina Nericcio-Bohlman, was on hand this weekend in Seattle. In addition to the performances on stage, there were vendors of costumes and gear, as well as workshops for dancers. Isn’t this vendor gorgeous?

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It was fascinating to watch women, and a few men, enter dressed as typical Seattleites, and emerge looking like this.Cues and Tattoos 013

Virginia and her husband now own Saroyan Mastercrafts, the premier manufacturer of finger cymbals for belly dance. Here she is with her wares at the Seattle event,

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and here’s their website, in case you’re in need of a good set of finger cymbals.


Most ATS dancers play finger cymbals during their performances, and Saroyans really are the very best—I own two sets I bought long before my friend owned the company. Their tone is clear and resonant, and they last forever.

And here’s a troupe doing a fusion number that featured cymbal variations.

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“Fusion” is a popular term among belly dancers these days; dancers combine belly dance moves with ballet, flamenco, gymnastics…you name it. These three dancers combined belly dance moves with hip-hop locks and pops.

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I do love colorful characters, and I got my fill at Cues and Tattoos. More importantly, I’m feeling inspired to start taking belly dance classes again. This dance was a big part of my life for many years, but I’ve eased off lately in favor of more sedentary pursuits, like writing. Dancing is good exercise for body and soul, and dancing makes me happy. Besides, who wouldn’t want to try those fabulous costumes?

How about you? Is there a hobby from your past that you’d like to take up again?


One thought on “C is for Cues (and Tattoos)

  1. Corina

    What a fun event to attend! Thanks for sharing it with us. I would love to attend this kind of every and Seattle would have been disable. I’ll have to keep eyes and ears open for more off these events.


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