Buy the Belly Dance Reader

The Gilded Serpent presents...
Dalia's Passion is Visable in

From the Ancient to the Avant Garde
Dalia Carella Dance Collective
Here Arts Center, New York City
November 7 - 9, 2002

Review by Susie Poulelis

While I have seen a few outstanding belly dance shows in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have been more often disappointed than not. There is plenty of talent in this hotbed of culture and diversity, but I rarely discover that it has found its collective way to one stage, at one time.

Some events are intended to showcase beginning and intermediate level dancers. Those arenas – such as student nights at a studio or restaurant – are invaluable experiences to the dancers, and I agree that our community could not exist without them. At these student events, the audience consists of fellow dancers, supportive friends and families. Other events, held over the course of a weekend, showcase multitudes of dancers of all levels. Here, a discerning audience member can select the show of his choice – provided he is familiar with the dancers’ names and hope that his favorites will be on stage during the times he can make it, or when he is not shopping at one of the many vendors of glorious belly dance wares. Both these styles of events are fine for those already immersed in the belly dance culture.

In my opinion, however, something is missing.

Where do I take my non-belly dancing friends? I am not talking about the pals who have supported me during my own student nights (God bless them), but those a bit more removed from my own idiosyncrasies and into, perhaps, something more along the lines of classical music, tennis or shopping at Barney’s.

Thanks to my garment industry job, I often travel to New York City. While there this summer, I took classes from Dalia Carella, a very talented dancer whom I look forward to watching every year at Rakkasah West. Shortly thereafter, I found myself on her mailing list and learned that her show, Transparency, was running the same weekend I was to return to the Big Apple! Immediately, I bought 2 tickets without thinking then sifted through my mind’s Rolodex to decide who would join me.

I decided to ask a co-worker, Helen, if she would like to come along. As a designer of intimate apparel, she is worldly and of discerning taste. Helen also has an adventurous spirit. Indeed, she accompanied me to St. John the Divine at 4:30 am in June for the Summer Solstice festival. If it was to be our fate, surely she could withstand watching what I feared could possibly be some bad belly dancing. She agreed.

Thankfully, it was not our fate. Transparency artfully fused a multitude of ethnic styles with Middle Eastern dance for a delightful show. The experimental pieces, “The Offering”, “Tray Dance” and “Guardians of the Styx”, were creative and worked quite well.
While I usually cringe at the hint of “New Age”, I enjoyed these numbers showcasing some promising talent. Of special note was Kaeshi Chai’s use of a vibrant red veil brought to life and exceptional floor work in “Tray Dance”. I was also struck by the beauty of the stylized skeletal figures undulating in the Dance of Death during “Dance Drama”.

Dalia’s solos, interspersed throughout the program, were well placed and helped keep the whole show grounded. Her “Dunyavi Gypsy Dance” and “A La Dance Orientale” were classic Dalia Carella. I had seen her dance before in similar styles and costumes, and I welcomed seeing it again. In this forum, a smallish stage with the audience set on risers approximately 10 feet away,

her trademark expressive face was intense.

I sat in the second row and wondered if I was a bit too close, finding myself occasionally uncomfortable, yet captivated, viewing the emotion pouring from Ms. Carella. In “El Baile Del Manton”and “El Abanico de Fuego”, Dalia’s passion was best expressed en Espanol through the use of shawl and fan.

Both “Samarabesque” and “Viento del Arena” displayed well thought out choreography and intensive rehearsal. The skill level of the dancers was not entirely well matched – some did outshine others, but all were on queue and hit their marks completely. I was enamored with one dancer who winked several times to the audience. I could tell she truly enjoyed herself and at least appeared to be quite comfortable on stage.

Two performances, however, were not up to par with the rest of the show. “I Put a Spell On You” missed its campy intentions and ended up looking somewhat vulgar. To pull off this number, the dancer would have needed to be more experienced. Also “Flames of the Serengetti”, while danced well, was overshadowed by an elementary leotard and chiffon costume and very poorly done body makeup.

Despite these exceptions, Transparency was not only a success as a belly dance production, but as an artistic dance event of its own right. I left the theatre feeling hopeful for the belly dance community, yet always in search for more events of this caliber.

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for More?
More by Susie

11-17-02 Tease-O-Rama, A Weekend of Burlesque in Old North Beach by Susie, Lynette, Sierra
Curious to learn if women were drawn to stripping for some of the same reasons they are drawn to bellydance...

10-20-02 Visions of Delight, A History of Belly Dance in the United States Reviewed by Bobbie Giarratana & Susie Poulelis
Photos of MECDA performers & layout by Susie, Third Annual Bay Area MECDA Showcase

5-19-02 Rakkasah West Festival 2002 Sunday Photos by Susie
Dalia Carella, Eva Cernik, Suhaila Dance Company, Ma'Shuqa, Parri and more....

3-9-02 Images of Morocco by Susie Poulelis
pictures from a trip in January '02...