Dance, // January 12, 2015
Little Goddess Trybe – DANCERS
Interview with Little Goddess Trybe directors Heather Emory and Shonkista Stephens
Little Goddess Trybe is located in Sherman, TX USA (An hour away from Dallas and 15 minutes south of the Oklahoma border- area known as Texoma)
1. Who are you and what do you do?
We are Little Goddess Trybe! We teach and perform American Tribal Style® as created by Fat Chance Belly Dance and its founder Carolena Nericcio. The dancers use a vocabulary of movements, steps, and cues that allows them to create a spontaneous improvisational performance that appears choreographed.
2. Why dance?
Dancing is my place of joy. When dancing there is nothing like letting your body be within the music. Each beat and tempo has its step and letting my body find that and express it through movement makes me deliriously happy.
Dancing for me is a voice that speaks to everyone, at every age. It conveys many feelings that one may not be able to voice openly, creating an outlet for those pint up emotions inside through a positive outlet that may speak to others in a positive way. I love how the dance appears as if it is creating the music we rhythmically flow to.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be a dancer?
I have always danced. However, it was hidden away; I never danced in public. I used to be painfully shy. As a child I would hide behind my father’s legs when someone I did not know was close. Even in my adult years I had a high degree of social anxiety. Becoming an American Tribal Style® dancer changed that for me. One of the wonderful things about the style of dance we do is that you are never alone. We dance in a troupe and know that no matter what happens that our sisters and brothers will have our backs. This helped me become more confident and get over that shyness.
I’ve always been athletic, tomboyish. Dance wasn’t even a thought on my mind until I switched to the Parks & Recreation department at work. I was to find new instructors and activities to add to our roster. I came across a bellydance class and dragged my friend with me to try it out. I thought I’d feel awkward because I’d only seen ladies in the gauzy, sheer outfits and I wasn’t comfortable enough with my body to attempt to wear such an outfit. To my surprise these ladies didn’t dress like that and the instructor and her students were very warm and welcoming. I secured her for my program and throughout the years although we’ve experienced setbacks and issues, I’ve been hooked ever sense.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and style(s)?
American Tribal Style® bellydance will always be my favorite and lifelong passion. I love everything dance; from ballet to hip-hop. I also am a serious scholar and have a Master’s Degree in Sociology and hope to soon begin my work on a P.H.D.
I enjoy all forms of art. From the great art works, such as Frida Kahlo and Pierre-Auguste Renoir to the scarily imaginative realistic looking 3D sidewalk artist Edgar Mueller. The perplexity of one’s mind to manipulate different mediums and create outstanding masterpieces has always amazed and astounded me. I associate that with the ATS® dance form created by Carolena Nericcio which she nurtured into a new dance form and then into a worldwide phenomenon is an amazing feat.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
Heather & Shonkista:
ATS® is different because having a troupe requires management skills and passion. We try to approach every performance from the audience’s point of view and then we focus on our dancer’s strengths to create a performance that will leave both the audience and the dancers feeling happy and fulfilled.
6. What are your favorite performance(s), artist(s)?
Heather & Shonkista:
We both agree that Carolena Nericcio, the founder of American Tribal Style®, and Fat Chance Belly Dance® is the epitome of grace and confidence. Megha Gavin, Carolena’s dance partner and friend, is equally amazing. We hope to someday be able to dance the music as perfectly as she does.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
The best response I have had to my work is to look out at the audience and see the reflection of my joy and happiness mirrored in their faces.
I love the look of little girls’ faces after I’ve finished a performance. They come up and ask to take pictures with you, ask you how to do a move and when you show them they always give a radiant smile in return. I feel that I’ve made a happy memory for them.
8. What do you like about your work?
The most rewarding part of what I do is the actual teaching of ATS®. The little spark that lights up someone’s face when they finally get a step and are enjoying moving through it is the best reward. It is so gratifying to watch a student go from clumsy while learning a step to confident. I also like to watch my student’s perform and know that while a large percentage of their success is personal hard work: I was there facilitating that journey.
The sisterhood is what I enjoy most. I’ve met dancers from all over who can come together anywhere in the world and dance. We share our epiphanies of teaching, encourage each other, share ideas and problems to a sisterhood who understands and is very supportive every step of the way. Also living in Texoma, a lot of people still feel that doing something outside of the social norm for this area is taboo, I feel sharing this dance form will help them take the steps necessary to go after their dream that may not be considered normal by society.
9. What advice would you give to other dancers?
Keep Dancing. It will probably never make you rich, sometimes make you sad, but there is nothing that brings more freedom.
Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. That one look of happiness and awe on the audience’s faces makes it all worthwhile.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Heather & Shonkista:
Dancing and teaching American Tribal Style® Bellydance.
Web Site: www.littlegoddesstribal.com
YouTube: Bad Links
Parks & Recreation website: http://www.ci.sherman.tx.us/index.aspx?nid=510
Photo Credits: Southern Scape Photography (Gail Bogle and Randi Reynolds, Denison, TX)