of Santa Cruz
past July 31st, 2004, Suhaila Salimpour unveiled
her one-night-only extravaganza, "Sheherezade," at
the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in San Francisco. After
a satisfying pan-Arabic dinner at Amira restaurant,
highlighted by a performance by Mary Ellen Donald,
I was ready to cap off my San Francisco bellydance excursion
with a sensational finale.
first thing I noticed was that the cast was wearing their "Britney" inspired
green cabaret outfits. They
were quite flattering, and I thought it was cool that they
were getting some more use out of them. After
a few more pieces, the undeniable entertainment value of the
dances was not enough to distract me from the fact that I'd
seen some of them before. Though I've only seen Suhaila before at two Rakkasah
festivals, I recognized a good portion of the show. Overall, I decided the premise of "1001
stories" was a facade for recycling their standard repertoire
of choreographies. However, while I can't comment on what percentage
of the show was new material, it kept me very well entertained
the dances were ensemble pieces with Suhaila and the young
women of her company. There were also intervals of balletic
veil solos, often with a backdrop of harem-girl Suhaila projected
on a screen, as well as some feats by male dancers.
A sequined spinning
dervish made an appearance, and Rashid did a virtuoso
solo followed by a tray dance. A "crone" who wandered
on stage, when hooked to a dangling line, sprung from "her" garment
to reveal an acrobatic man (Angelo Rodriguez).
The fabric streamers hanging from the line were his means of support,
and trailed behind him like wings. He repeatedly landed, wrapped
his arms in the fabric, then ran and took off in circling flights
out over the audience.
show-stealing piece was the fire-eating bellydancer (Alison Johnson). The ensemble
danced with little fire pots in each hand, while she did tricks
with flaming bowls and wands of fire. Sometimes she would wipe
the wands across her body, leaving flames briefly rippling
on her skin. Her most interesting feat was probably the part
where she would bend back and dip the wand in her mouth, leaving
a residual flame hovering above her mouth for a second. Quite
daughter, Isabel, also made an appearance.
From my seat I could see her waiting with Grandma Jamila in
the wings, following the music with
taksim at Rakkasah Festival '03
isolations and hand movements. When she came out for her solo,
dressed like a mini-Suhaila, she had the audience wrapped around
her finger. I think we're all impressed with her rhythm, torso
control, and graceful arms, as well as her budding-star stage
presence. I used to wonder if she was just doing it because
mommy did, but now I see that she's a true performer.
thought Suhaila was at her best in this performance when she
let loose after an extended taxim solo accompanied by a violinist. As the rhythms became more upbeat, she engaged
the audience by getting them to clap to the music, while she
improvised with signature moves and an apparent joy in performing. Which brings me to my other slight problem
with this show.
and friends were certainly technically impressive, yet their
manner was often
a touch undramatic. For the most part, a certain diffidence
rather than passionate projection was the norm. There was no
real sense of storytelling to support the program's Sheherezade-ish descriptions
for each dance, e.g. "the passion between Sheherezade
and the Prince grows stronger." Which guy is the prince,
and when does he interact with Sheherezade?
I definitely was entertained and glad I saw this show, the
recycled content and weak storytelling didn't fulfill the promise
of the Sheherezade premise.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
Review - "Instant Bellydancer, Curves, A Crash Course in Belly
Dance" by Neon, Review by Mara al-Nil
with a somewhat more open mind, I popped the DVD into my computer
and from the opening shot found myself captivated!
Hassan presents Ahlan Wa Sahlan Oriental Dance Festival
Opening Cairo 2003." A video review by Mara
my personal preference is to focus on the dancers, some people may
enjoy celebrity spotting, or looking for friends and fellow dancers
fortunate enough to have attended the gala.
Whole Latte' Shaking Going On, Belly Dance Comics
I think we can stop now!"
Dance Superstars at DNA Lounge page 2, photos by
eye candy! Performing in one of the most trendy clubs in San
An American Dancer in Cairo by Catherine Barros,
would walk into these huge ballrooms filled with thousands of
people with a huge stage in the middle of the room while television
cameras on cranes are taking note of everything.
in North Beach by Sausan
the occasions when the door was still locked, I was often invited
to drink coffee next door, where young girls made their money
West Festival Photo Teaser March 2004, Richmond, California
by GS Volunteers including: Biram, Clare, Cynthia, Krista, Lynette,
Sandra, Valentino, Yasmine and probably more! Let us know if you recognize