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Sensual, not sexual: Dayana Ocanto’s tribal fusion.
Sensual, not sexual: Dayana Octana’s tribal fusion. Nicky Sullivan

Teaching belly dancing 2.0

Tribal fusion is a style of belly dance based on Arabic belly dance but with a modern twist, incorporating moves from a diverse range of contemporary and folk styles from around the world.

Now Venezuelan Dayana Ocanto, 34 – a modern-day gypsy who has spent the last 10 years travelling the world with her husband, a jeweller and tattoo artist – has brought tribal fusion to Siem Reap.

The couple paused in Siem Reap in May this year and have since set up a stall at Angkor Night Market, and now Ocanto, under the name Navilus, is offering dance classes and performances at Mezze, as well as at her home. 

“I discovered [tribal fusion] when I first started travelling in Mexico 10 years ago,” she said. ”When I saw it, I loved it, so I started to teach myself.” 

The dance will look familiar to anyone who has seen Arabic belly dances, but the base style can be fused with anything from Hindi, electronic or tribal roots music to hip hop.

Ocanto describes her own preferred style as slow and flowing, and as she moves it’s easy to see the muscular sensuality that underpins her being. She points out that this is not the same as sexuality though. 

“It’s not about making a proposition of anything. It’s about community between women, cooperation, not competition, celebrating and sharing the feminine energy.

“It’s more connected, and there is more to it than the physical experience. The mental and spiritual elements are just as strong”. 

Ocanto’s classes at Mezze, at 6pm on Tuesday evenings, are free, while those at her home, near Taphul Road, on Monday and Wednesdays, will cost $5. Ocanto will also hold regular performances at Mezze, and other venues in Siem Reap. 

For more information, check out Ocanto’s Facebook page: Navilu’s Fusions.

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