Tribal Music and Belly Dance Band Gypsy Caravan is an eclectic troupe of tribal belly dancers, founded in 1991 by artistic director Paulette Rees-Denis. They are urban berbers, a contemporary family, performing a fusion style of tribal belly dance that reflects the ancient longing to celebrate community spirit.

Their name pays tribute to the nomadic tribal folk who carried their song and dance with them as they traveled from country to country. The migration into modern times is what continuously inspires the Gypsy Caravan. The band, Mizna, plays a combination of traditional and modern instruments. Percussive acoustic instruments--the dumbek, davul, tar, and djembe--match the dancers; vigorous hip movements. Melodies played on various strings--oud, cumbush, saz--and wind instruments--zurna, mizmar, arghul, ney, and didgeridoo--inspire the belly dancer's sinuous stylings.

Spectacular and inviting, the belly dancers of Gypsy Caravan transverse time and defy the borders of tribal belly dance by blending the essence of Indian, Turkish, North African, and European dances, while rooted in modern American dance. Intoxicating and powerful, belly dancers use improvisational instincts with the spontaneity of the moment. They sometimes incorporatie props--fans, veils, swords, baskets, zils--to demonstrate their skill and enrich the performance. With the resurging interest in belly dance, the Gypsy Caravan have toured throughout the Pacific Northwest, around North America, Europe, and Australia from their home base in Portland, Oregon. Their latest documentary, Tribal Travels, released in 2005, won an award for Best Historical Documentary.
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TWO STEPS FROM HEAVENTwo Steps From Heaven. The Best of Classical Crossover
The Best Of Classical Crossover

Press Release:

Cultivator Press is proud to announce the release of the new CD Mizna. Mizna performs a stylized blend of the music of North Africa, Spain, India, the Middle and Near East, with a contemporary American sensibility. Both lively and thoughtful, this group evokes the lonely campfire of the hejira as well as the silken wealth of the caravanserai. With a large assortment of horns and strings providing the melodic components, backed by an equally impressive array of drums and percussion instruments, the songs range from pensive and moody to bouyant uptempo tunes. Mizna plays all original compositions on a variety of traditional instruments, such as the Egyptian mijwiz, Turkish zurna and saz, African djembe and the Indian naal. From Portland, Oregon, Mizna features two members from Gypsy Caravan, Jeff Rees and Bruce Beaton, who have released seven CD';s under the Gypsy Caravan Productions label and introduces two musicians new to the belly dance and world music community, Doug Shafer and JD Devros. Mizna also joins with the Gypsy Caravan band of eight musicians for a high energy performance. The CD releases for Gypsy Caravan include, Migration, Live, Caravan Rhythms, Awakening, and Quest.

Belly dance is a Western name for an Arabic style of dance developed in the Middle East. The belly dance is based on one of the oldest social dances in world history, native to North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Much of the support for this theory stems from the similarities between poses in ancient Egyptian artwork and the modern dance.

In its native lands, boys and girls learn the dance from an early age. As with many social dances, it is learned informally through observation and imitation of their elders during family and community celebrations, as well as during informal gatherings with friends. Today, ancient belly dances are taught in classes offered throughout the world, and skilled belly dancers are able to share their knowledge that has been passed down from the indigenous peoples who created them.

Most of the basic steps and techniques used in belly dance are circular motions isolated in one part of the body; for example, a circle parallel to the floor isolated in the hips or shoulders. Accents using "pop and lock" where a belly dancer either shimmies or makes a striking motion in her shoulders or hips are common, as are feats of flexibility, rolling one's belly muscles, balancing various props like baskets, swords or canes, and dancing with chiffon or silk veils

A recent movement in the U.S. called American Tribal Style Belly Dance, or ATS, represents everything from folklore-inspired dances to the fusion of ancient dance techniques from North India, the Middle East, and Africa. Created in the early 1990s by Carolena Nericcio, founder of Fat Chance Belly Dance in San Francisco, ATS has a format consisting of a vocabulary of steps that are designed to be performed improvisationally in a lead-follow manner. Pure ATS is performed in a group, typically with a chorus of dancers using zills, or finger cymbals, as accompaniment. The music can be folkloric or modern, and the costume is heavily layered, evoking traditions of any or all of its fusion of cultural influences.