Amanda Pittoreska from Switzerland dances and trains Fusion Bellydance passionately for over 13 years – accompanied by other dance styles and forms of movement such as Yoga, Pilates and Fitness.
Her development as a dancer has taken her across Europe and the US to study with the most prestigious representatives of the scene such as Samantha Emanuel, Anasma, Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, the Orchidaceae Dance Company, Zoe Jakes or Mira Betz.
Sandra: You have a very interesting background. Would you tell us how you started with Tribal Fusion?
Amanda Pittoreska: Oh, I don’t think there is anything unusual with my story. I used to practice Belly Dance for a little bit before. And then I saw a video of Rachel Brice, which inspired me to move in the direction of tribal fusion belly dance.
However, back in those days, there weren’t any tribal fusion classes in my area in Switzerland (or at least I couldn’t find any around).
Hence, I trained with the help of videos. I have also tried to find as many workshops as I could. I traveled a lot, participated in various festivals. Little by little, I developed my technique in tribal fusion dance.
And, in all that time, I never planned to actually start teaching. However, people started to approach me, asking me to do a workshop where I would demonstrate to them the graciousness of the tribal style dance.
So I held that workshop, and right after it ended, the students asked me to continue with regular classes. And…as you can see, one thing led to another.
Still, I didn’t really know where to go with my dancing, for my personal training I never had a proper space and at some point I even considered quitting. But before that I traveled to San Francisco for a couple of months to train and feel the home of tribal fusion belly dance. Of course, I just couldn’t keep myself apart from tribal fusion. Soon after that, everything seemed to fall in place and I established my own studio. Now I have all the space and a wonderful community that I wished for!
I realized I love teaching so much, it is such a fulfilling and purposeful profession! I think I only once made a break of teaching, and that was back in 2013 when I was visiting the States. That was the time when I became one of Rachel’s students.
I am also overjoyed about the community that built around my studio and that it is growing little by little. I am not alone anymore in my passion for tribal fusion dance!
S: You studied Datura Style under the mentorship of Rachel Brice. How did you feel during the whole experience?
A: The whole program – the 8 Elements, was life-changing for me. There I wasn’t learning only about the 8 Elements of belly dance. Sure, there was that, but then there was also so much more!
For example, I learned so much about growth-mindset, motivation, consistency, team spirit, community, about the importance of honoring our core – original style (i.e. where we started from).
Datura is one of the styles, but to me, it is so much more. It is the spirit of it all that I believe truly matters in developing and pursuing a fulfilling and consistent dance practice – or any passion even!
S: Tribal Fusion Belly Dance, fusion dance… There are many terms out there - how do you tell the difference?
A: The style I teach – I call it Fusion Bellydance. I don’t have an Oriental nor ATS background. And I feel Tribal Fusion Bellydance is closer to ATS and the start of its whole development.
Datura Style is also close to Tribal Fusion Belly Dance, though, since it is also rooted in the ATS.
Personally, I don’t put that much of ATS in my style and classes apart from Datura Style. So I believe I am much closer to being a Fusion Belly Dance instructor. However, sometimes I would label my classes as “Tribal Fusion” since that is the term better known to beginners.
Frankly, I feel I don’t want to debate about names too much. Everyone may have their own understanding and their own style as in every art field. Of course, naming things helps and asks for appropriate consideration. However, for myself I like to keep the naming quite open and let the content speak for itself.
S: You also teach fitness and pilates. Do you feel these help your belly dance technique?
A: Any training – e.g pilates or fitness, helped me a lot to get to know my own body better. The general understanding of body and anatomy – I feel this is often missing yet needed in Bellydance classes.
Pilates and fitness have influenced my teaching of fusion belly dance as well. I am now looking at the body differently than I did before I was introduced to anatomy. It helps me understand movement better, as well as to describe it more precisely. Moreover, cross-training is highly beneficial for my dance technique as well as a counterbalance for daily life.
S: When did you start your studio Pittoreska? How is it like to manage your own studio?
A: I started it just 6 years ago. Managing a studio takes lots of my time. And even though it is not my only occupation, I feel like most of my passion and energy goes there.
Creating a space – I didn’t want to create a mere training space but I wanted to add spirit and atmosphere. So I put a lot of thought, personality and love into the arrangement of the interior.
And it is certainly not easy. It is hard enough to find a proper space – to have all the right elements (e.g. location, spacing, arrangement), let alone to create classes and build a business around it.
However, once it starts working, to me it became very fulfilling and rewarding in so many ways. It is amazing to see the community grow and to watch people motivate and support each other.
S: You also bring other tribal fusion instructors to teach in your studio?
A: Yes. I personally had many different teachers and was (and still am) visiting many workshops. In my experience, it really helps if you are learning from different people.
Even if you learn very similar styles, techniques, movement concepts and ideas, each teacher has their unique approach to it, their own words, their own specialities. It can really help you shed more light on what you are trying to learn and what will later on define you as a dancer.
I am truly blessed to have learned from so many people. And when I started teaching tribal, I wanted to provide the same opportunity to my students. They mean the world to me.
S: What is next for you? Any new projects, workshops, trips..?
A: I will continue to teach here in my studio, as well as in some workshops abroad. The next stop is Las Vegas in March where I perform in The Massive Spectacular and teach a workshop at The Mega Massive.
I have ongoing projects with my students, I will produce my next evening dance show in June, I will host Kami Liddle for two intensives this year and I have several dance training sessions and programs on my personal list – it’s going to be a full and exciting year.
And Of course – Sofia Tribal Fest is big on my schedule, so I am looking forward to seeing you all there!
Until next time!