N.E.A.T.S. or North East American Tribal Style Camp is an dance camp run by Carmine Guida, a professional drummer, and Mimi Fontana, Director of Manhattan Tribal. They also run SuperFunDanceCamp, a NEW tribal fusion camp. Both camps are a great weekend retreat for dancers to have fun outdoors camping, while making new dance friends and learning from world class professionals in Cold Spring, NY. You will also read about Mimi and Carmine about themselves and how they got started in the community. SuperFunDanceCamp is taking place Fri May 13th – Sun 15th 2016, and N.E.A.T.S. is Fri Sep 23rd – Sun 25th 2016. Click to register or learn more about SuperFunDanceCamp or N.E.A.T.S.
Learn about the Founders – Carmine Guida
Tell me about yourself and your projects. What type of music do you specialize in?
I live in New York City, and have been a musician and a computer programmer/geek for a long time. I play mostly Middle Eastern music these days (on Oud and Doumbek), but I also play bass guitar and a bunch of other instruments. I perform several times a month and I love teaching people music. I feel everyone should know how to make music.
How did you get involved with the Bellydance community?
I had a couple of friends who were bellydancers at the Renaissance fair. About 15 years ago, they asked me if I could learn Middle Eastern music so I could play for them. By random chance I stumbled upon Raquy. I took my first doumbek lessons and saw some of my first live music shows and I was hooked immediately!
Any new music projects in the works you can share? Any updates regarding Djinn?
My belly-world projects right now are focused on these 2 camps that Mimi Fontana and I are running. “SuperFunDanceCamp” – our NEW Tribal Fusion Camp and “NEATSCamp” our North East American Tribal Style Camp. (it’ll be our 4th year this year.) Djinn does some shows here and there and I perform with the members in all types of different bands. We’re mostly doing our own projects now.
Going to any upcoming shows, festivals, or concerts that people could hear you play at?
Absolutely! I’ll be at Elevation and Tribal Revolution as well as in Italy this summer. I also perform a couple times a month here in NYC.
Can you think of any shows or projects from the past that stand out as important or interesting to you and your career?
The Rakkasah festival was really great to me. It was a huge stepping-stone for me in getting out into the belly-world and got me great exposure.
I saw on your website that you are also a developer of apps and video games. How did you get into doing that? Ever think about creating something relating to your music career?
I’ve been using computers since before it was cool, even before I played music. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. It’s pretty funny when my tech and belly world collide, and sometimes people have no idea I do the other thing. I’ve made one of my DVDs into an APP for iPad. I also have a Cowbell app out there and a couple others (look up “Awesome Cowbell”)
Where can people find information about what your doing in terms of workshops and where you’ll be playing in the future?
Best thing to do is to check out my website: www.carmine.com
Anything else you would like to add?
I have tons of free sheet music on my website for Middle Eastern music. You can literally download and print out a book for free. Dust off that old instrument in your attic and try some out. Check out www.carmine.com/haflasongs
Learn about the Founders – Mimi Fontana
How’d you get your start as a dancer and what drew you towards tribal?
I started dancing Western Cabaret/Oriental style belly dance with Serena Wilson of Serena Studios in
1997. I danced cabaret styles for quite a long time, doing the wedding and birthday party circuit as
well as nightclubs to full bands and hookah bars. I was always drawn to the more folkloric aspects of
the dance, and never quite felt I fit in with the sequins and glitter. I first saw tribal at Rakkasah East
via Kassar which is a duo from the New Jersey area (Karin Hein & Melanie Wood) and I eventually
found Sarah Locke who had just begun teaching her Alchemy style with was heavily influenced by
Gypsy Caravan. Sarah brought Carolena Nericcio of FCBD®for a one day workshop and that was it.
I was like, SOLD! WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
Tell me about Manhattan Tribal. When did you start it? What are you looking to accomplish
as a group?
Manhattan Tribal began about 9 years ago. Our very first show was in February of 2007 at the CUNY
Graduate Center as part of a lecture on different belly dance styles. As a group I feel we’ve always
strived to present our dance in a way that upholds Classic ATS® style, still allows us our own
creativity and dialect, and ultimately draws awareness to the beauty of our dance form.
What makes you different from other ATS® studios?
I think the main thing is the diversity of our students. Also being “centrally” located in Manhattan, we
draw folks from the entire tri-state area to our weekly classes and workshops. We often have whole
troupes from neighboring cities join in a class so that they can collectively take what they learn home
and work on it as a troupe. NYC being a destination spot, dancers from around the world will drop in
to class as they’re passing through town. We also have quite a bit of crossover with fusion dancers
who are ATS-curious and want to deepen their understanding of how ATS works.
What types of shows are the most fun for you and your group?
I love outdoor shows, parades, festivals, street fars, if there is live music even better!
Have any upcoming shows?
We just finished hosting Kristine Adams of Fat Chance Belly Dance® this weekend and we had a
showcase at Je’Bon in NYC. For upcoming events, I’ll be teaching two workshops and performing at
Cues & Tattoos Festival in Seattle in April. Locally we’ll be appearing at Rakkasah’s Spring Caravan
in New Jersey on April 30th, at SuperFunDanceCamp on May 14th, the NYC Dance Parade on May
21st, and at FIGMENT Festival in NYC on June 11th.
Where can people find information about you and your studio if they are interested?
The New York City dance community is so active, is there anything exciting going on in the
Dance Parade is a big one. Usually over 5,000. styles of dances are represented. In Belly Dance
The Theatrical Belly Dance Conference will be taking place on June 24th. We are lucky that there is
always something going on – sometimes too much!
Learn about N.E.A.T.S. and SuperFunDanceCamp
Tell me about NEATS Camp
NEATS stands for “North East American Tribal Style”. It’s a great weekend retreat for ATS dancers and musicians too. We offer lots of great classes as well as haflas for open dance and jam time, a show, vending, a swap meet and of course s’mores. The camp offers heated lodges with appliances, bathrooms etc. (we call it “glamping” instead of camping).
Is this for dancers of any skill level of should they be familiar with ATS?
Any skill level! We offer some beginner classes for newbies as well as more advanced classes.
Do you plan on providing any instruction for dancers interested in learning to play instruments, and if so is there a prerequisite skill level required?
Every year we have a couple of “baby beginner” music classes in various instruments (such as doumbek, riq and frame drum). We also make sure these baby beginner music classes aren’t at the same time as dance classes, so that EVERYONE can get a chance to try out something new or that they are curious about.
Any advice for those going to their first N.E.A.T.S. camp?
Dancing and drumming and s’moring is good, but don’t forget to take some nice walks and enjoy the lake and some downtime. It’s really pretty there.
What is your favorite part about the camp and putting it together?
N.E.A.T.S. has become a sort of weekend getaway for troupes. Lots of the time 3 to 6 people (or more) all come together. We can put them in the same sleeping space together and we think it’s just a great experience for your group. Also, there is just something about the vibe of a camp event vs. a hotel event.
About how many people go to camp each year?
We have about 100 people each year.
Besides dance and music what other aspects of camp are there?
We also have a pretty awesome swap meet, great vendors, and we think the overall camaraderie of the event is awesome.
Anything else you would like to add?
Don’t forget your towel!