Introducing Tribal Twerk

When many people hear the word Twerk or Twerking they automatically think about something sexual and definitely over 18.  7 years ago, when I started to teach Twerk classes in a small Dublin Community centre I didn’t have an easy start breaking people’s perception about this dance type. No wonder, since we tend to remember the Twerk origins only 70 years back when they appeared in the strip clubs in America. Also, the modern music trends don’t help much either. As much as I like some songs from Nicky Minaj and Cardy B, the oversexualised message of the bum shaking is all over MTV viewers’ faces.

If we rewind for a sec even just maybe to the 1960 in New Orleans, all the people were dancing on the streets regardless if they were 10 year olds or grandmas, they were rocking the move. Even then, it was just the way of dancing and not a so-called “mating” dance.

If we go even further back to the true origins in West Africa, it came from a tribe, and they call it Mapouka. It is currently an existing dance class you can take and YES there is twerking in there, although the music would be very tribal and heavy on drumbeats.

Over the years of teaching various fitness classes and dance fitness mixes like Zumba I have always been drawn to booty shaking simply because it just makes me feel so FREE.
So I took on the battle with the perception of the masses and week after week I was filling up my classes with 30 ladies in various ages who wanted to feel the same, “FREEDOM” like I do.

The simplicity of this has carried on for years in my life and every time I went for ecstatic dancing I just felt the need to twerk. But even then, I thought maybe it’s not the right place or people are just not ready yet. Until 2022 when I decided that I will throw my first Twerk and Cacao Tribal Dance workshop for women only. I have been a cacao facilitator for some time and I always loved the mix of dance and cacao together for its wonderful effect on emotional release. The idea was to create a safe space to experience the cacao and its heart opening effect with the rooting tribal dance. the very first class of its kind was somewhat of a test-drive but I fell in love with the mix instantaneously.  The feedback was overwhelmingly deep in emotional release. There is something in letting go of the dogma and the judgement and just let your body loose, stomp your feet, and connect to mother earth. And all of this with the combo of the cacao gave a real magic spark to a somatic trauma release.

Since the feedback was better than I expected, I was determined to add more into this dance to enhance the essence and the effect of it. I have also been teaching Kundalini yoga for a while and from there the somatic movements, breathings and Yin Yoga stretches were just waiting to be paired up. 

Then the final version of the Tribal Twerk was born.

Mixed with Africa’s Tribal Music and Middle Eastern snake charmer dance.
In this dance we honour each chakra with their yin or yang characteristics. We also match them with a planet from our solar system for more personality. For example, the Root Chakra is a Yang powered energy and the planet attached to it is Mars, which is very much of a strong warrior personality. Therefore, the dance is high in energy, the song is heavy on drums like a motivational dance for a fight. I have also added on trigger points or Nadi system activations from the kundalini yoga practices. Again taking the example for this in the root chakra: whee we stomp with the heel as it is connected to our sexual glandular system and to the root chakra energy. For each chakra there are 2-3 songs, so you get some guidance on all the characteristics of the dance and examples of movements. Then it’s an ecstatic dance where you can allow your own body and energy to see what moves feel good or needed for you to smoothly release and let go. Each energy system of the body has its own theme. This ensures that travelling up your chakras is a guided but self-experimental way you get to move and tap into your inner intuition to align with your body. The whole sequence is created to unleash chakras and release blockages. We implement breathing techniques at the heart chakra, sound, mantras and singing for the throat chakra, yin yoga in the 3rd eye and deep meditation on the crown chakra. The whole dance usually lasts about 90 min, but as mentioned already, as we enter the upper chakras the intensity of the moves slows down so anyone with any fitness level can join the dancing session.

I often teach a 45 min teaser at festivals to open people’s eyes to the fun and freedom they can experience from this dance style.
There are also Twerk Instructor and Tribal Twerk instructor certifications available throughout the year if someone feels like they want to bring something like this to their local community.

The message or the vision is quite simple: Let it go and be free. 

If I can make as many women as possible feel like that around Ireland my job is done here.

by Nikki Solyom

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Nikki Solyom
Nikki Solyom
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