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The Gilded Serpent presents...
"Fire at the IAO"
Performance Video produced by Delilah

Video Review by Lilly

"On"On the night of February 26, 2000
at the Iao Theater in Wailuku, Maui, …
Let us embody the passion
and the soul
of the music and the dance!
Let us be put to the fire!
Let us be cooked!
Let us be food!"

This was the opening quote of the "Fire at the Iao" a show that took place at the Iao Theater in Wailuku, Maui on February 26, 2000. "Fire at the Iao" features two dancers, Delilah with belly dancing, and Nikki Conte with flamenco. Joining them is Armando El Mafuffo (on drums) and Suleyman El Coyote as the Bulerias or guitar/singer.

The show began with a Spanish melody by Suleyman on guitar accompanying Nikki. What impressed and mesmerized me about Flamenco is not the dancing itself but the passionate and pained attitude that accompanied it. The face was as expressive as, if not more than, the dancer's feet.

However this performance lacked the intense emotions that are usually expressed in flamenco. That is not to say that Nikki's dancing is not expressive. It is beautiful and elegant but I would love to see more of the attitude that goes with flamenco expressed in her dancing. Nikki's set was followed by a performance of Suleyman, who was singing and dancing unaccompanied by the guitar. The dancing did not last long. He soon returned to his guitar where he is much more comfortable.

Nikki then returned for another set. This dance was not very different from the previous one. I had a feeling that the dancer and the singer were telling a story. Unfortunately, if it weren't for the many gestures, I really wouldn't have been able to tell what the song was about.

The second part of the show belonged to Delilah. Her set opened with the sound of the Mizmar and drums playing a haunting melody in a darkened arena. The sound of zills in the background announced her arrival. The setting had a mystical air to it, signaling that something special was about to take place. Delilah entered, dancing in front of the musicians in a beautiful white costume with an elegant, flowing, silky veil. After Delilah's dramatic entrance she continued dancing with the zills to the sound of the Mizmar. She executed gorgeous shoulder shimmies with some snaky body shimmies. In the midst of her veil dance, Delilah framed her body to highlight her belly rolls, teasing us with her exact movements.

The violin and the drum accompanied the transition from the veil to a taksim. Delilah picks up her zills and proceeded to do a very sultry taksim. I was completely mesmerized by her belly rolls! These are the kinds of rolls that I've rarely seen, and they look like they would take a lifetime of dedication to achieve. To me, this was the best part of her performance.

Some of the movements in the next transition seemed like a combination of traditional belly dance and folk dance, like what is seen in Romany or Egyptian folk dancing and Khaleeji dancing.

Delilah ended this part of her set with a drop that led into floor work. This is where her belly rolls really shone. The high-pitched sound of the Mizmar was replaced with the Nay, a very deep and haunting flute. Delilah's expression was trancelike. The sound of the nay reminds me of mourning and Delilah's expressive face illustrated exactly that.

In the third part of her set Delilah experimented with African rhythms. To me, this section seemed a little misplaced. However, it was not drawn out, and merely added a touch of African flavor. While erratic, it kept true to the spirit of the drums and the African sounds. Delilah concluded her performance with a salute to the musicians and exited the stage.

Throughout her performance, Delilah was graceful, elegant, and sultry. I truly enjoyed watching this show. Her connection to the audience and to the musicians was at once respectful and playful. I could tell that her dance repertoire is quite varied and that she drew from many genres.This high quality of dance is rarely seen. Delilah is technically adept, expressive, beautiful and playful in her dance.

"Fire at the Iao" is a performance tape well worth viewing. It is especially good for those who enjoy flamenco dance and Spanish music as well as high quality belly dance. It's a tape you'll enjoy watching more than once.

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