**AWAKENING** 2002. A different and slightly darker look in to the tribal dance world from this eclectic band of gypsies. With special guests Jeremiah Soto and Wayne Gilbertson.
The Gypsy Caravan is an eclectic troupe of tribal bellydancers and musicians, founded in 1991 by artistic director Paulette Rees-Denis. They are a contemporary family, urban berbers, dedicated to performing Middle Eastern and North African inspired rhythms and dances.
Today they perform a fusion style of tribal bellydance that reflects the ancient longing to celebrate community spirit. The name pays tribute to the nomadic Gypsies and tribal folk who carried their song and dance with them as they traveled. Beginning on the Gypsy Trail in India, the Gypsies performed traditional dances for the various communities they encountered, in Egypt through Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, to Spain. Rhythms, costumes, and dance styles shaped Gypsy's lives as they migrated from country to country. This migration into modern times is what continuously inspires the the Gypsy Caravan.
The Caravan musicians play a combination of traditional and modern instruments. Percussive acoustic instruments, such as the dumbek, davul, tar, and djembe, match the dancers' vigorous hip movements. Melodies played on various wind instruments including zurna, mizmar, arghul, and ney, inspire the dancers' sinuous stylings. They sometimes fuse other instruments into the music -- the harmonium from India, the didgeridoo from Australia, and others. Together they contribute to an exhilarating and often mesmerizing sound.
The dancers occasionally use props such as fans, veils, swords, baskets, zils (finger cymbals), and percussive tambourines, to demonstrate their skill as well as to enrich the performance. Although some of the dances are choreographed, the dancers use their improvisational instincts with the spontaneity of the moment. A balance of precision and grace showcase this dance as both intoxicating and powerful.
With the resurging interest in this dance style, the Gypsy Caravan have toured throughout the Pacific Northwest, around North America, Europe, and Australia from their home base in Portland, Oregon. Gypsy Caravan, and Jeff's side band, Mizna, have released nine CDs, the latest being Remarkably Remixed,of their original eclectic, middle-eastern influenced music. Instruments such as the zurna, djembe, dumbek, mijwiz, and various percussion now are remixed to kick it up.Inspired by the improvisational dance style of the tribal bellydancers, the music can be mesmerizing and hipnotic, or energetic and rockin'.
This tribal troupe produced an award-winning documentary film, Tribal Travels, and eight Tribal bellydance instructional DVDs. The director, Paulette Rees-Denis, has had her first book, Tribal Vision, published in June 2008, by Cultivator Press.