So, just what is Lynchburg Tribal? Is it a belly dance troupe? A club? An event promotion committee? Well, I suppose it's a little of all of that.
How about some history? When I began teaching belly dance at MindBody Studio, performance opportunities came up, namely at Studio open houses. My more advanced students and I danced at the first one billed as The MindBody Dancers. We thought that sounded a bit too Solid Gold to us and asked to be listed in the future simply as Lynchburg Tribal. Around that time I started the Yahoo!Group and so the name was (sort of) official. Since we had a name, I filed some IRS paperwork and then we had some form too. The upper level MindBody students and I continued to perform here and there.
Three years ago Nancy Hayes suggested we host a hafla (an event with many dancers-sometimes like a recital or show, sometimes simply a dance party) as part of Lynchburg's Kaleidoscope Festival. So we invited other belly dancers from throughout Central Virginia, rented a theatre, and put up posters. We were astounded by the 200+ audience members. Event staff had to turn people away at the door because we were in danger of violating the buildings maximum capacity. Folks watched part of the hafla from the lobby on closed caption TV and then swapped seats with audience members in the theatre at intermission. After that, things got interesting...
Groups of dancers taking classes at MindBody danced at all sorts of events--the Garlic Festival, Green Spring Expo, Starlight Cafe shindigs. Somewhere along the line the notion took hold that one had to be one of my students to be considered "Lynchburg Tribal." And that had not been the original intention. In fact, LT never really had a policy on who was or was not considered part of LT.
My vision for Lynchburg Tribal is a coalition of Belly Dancers and musicians and folks who are "into" bellydance and related "stuff." To that end I polled some of the active participants about instituting a Membership fee. Everyone thought it was a good plan for establishing our identity in a way that was not tied to enrollment in any specific teacher's classes (we have at least 3 great Belly Dance teachers here in Lynchburg) and could help generate some funds.
What does LT do with its money? Excellent question! First and foremost funds go to support the now annual Kaleidoscope Hafla. Additionally, LT purchases belly dance related gear in bulk to sell to dancers locally; we can rent space for workshops and pay instructors; and we hope to be able to financially support dance events hosted by other dancers and/or groups.
Lynchburg Tribal is growing, and becoming more vibrant each month. None of us really knew what we were doing all those years ago when we made up a name, and we certainly didn't envision the organization LT is becoming. But isn't that the amazing thing about Belly dance? It opens us up to new experiences and encourages growth in areas we never dreamed.
So, to my sister dancers I say, let's see where we can go! Let's dream big! Let's support, encourage, and inspire one another!!!