An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance
EEMED Audition

A Review of "An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance"
By Victoria Shulem

Jareeda Dec 2003: 17-18.

For four evenings, "An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance" entertained at the Secret Rose Theater in North Hollywood, California. Its wonderfully wide variety of dance themes, costumes, and fusion of music gave the audience much to think about and enjoy. The evening began with "Visitors Between Worlds." The dance started with tourists spending time in a museum viewing statues of Gods and Goddesses from around the world. Unknown to the tourists, with the exception of a young girl, each statue came to life and danced around them. They each left a small gift for the young girl and a subliminal message for the tourists. The theme was: "We are all visitors here. We pass through cultures, ages, genders, and… realties. How do we connect?" Performers were: Anaheed "Tara, Aja "Laka", Dawna "Demeter", Kamaal "Xochipilli." The tourists were: Daveed, Jenza, Kate Rosloff, Arielle Singer and Janet Wade.

"Tucson" awarded us with visions of dark forms with silver masks moving and undulating in mind-boggling movements. In the center a form under a dark veil moved pulsating to the music working to the point where suddenly there were four dancers doing a beautiful, strong, and stylish Flamenco dance. Their movements were beautiful and I enjoyed their dance and costume style. The theme was: "When we weight ourselves with doubt and find no beauty in the world we deviate form harmony, and it is those we love most that provide us with the strength to bring ourselves back to a truthful, beautiful, and blameless life. Performers were Desert Sin (Alsana, Cassandra, Djahari, and Tatianna)

Tandemonium with Amanda performed "When the Gods Came Down From Off the Mountain." A dance that tore at the heart. It mourned for women wanting to be unburdened and freed, and then lose their lives for it. A reality that happens almost daily for women in many parts of the world. The theme was a tribute to the women of Central Asia who removed their veils and danced in public, only to be killed by their own family members for "dishonoring" them.

In the dance, "The Story of Laurel" Amara's performance gave you the feeling of great fear. The fear of being pursued and the fear of what she was becoming. You could feel the emotions of fear and confusion as she was changing into something else. This told the story of Daphne, a wood nymph, who is turned into a Laurel tree by her father in order to avoid the pursuing Apollo. She awakens only to re-live over and over the events that have lead her to an inescapable prison.

"Ceremony of the Elements" gave the audience an exciting view of the four elements; earth, air fire and water. The costumes were outstanding and each dancer brought their element to life. As each element came forward, they gave a part of themselves to the fifth. Air, water, fire, and earth celebrate the energizing of a fifth element into the circle of life. Performed by Subee Djinn (Katrina Gourley "Humanity," Lorraine Hanson "Water," Nikii Henry "Fire," Tonda Kubena "Air," and Katherine Storen "Earth" "

A Logical Trek Tribute…" was a fun dance performed by Anaheed. She was dressed as a beautiful green Vulcan, ears and all. This was a playful presentation on honor of the first airdate of "Star Trek" on September 8, 1966.

"The Silent Era" performed by Sa' Elayssa was a very impressive tribute to the old black and white silent movies. She made you feel that she was caught in a time warp that forced her to dance over, and over again. I loved her costume and all of her facial expressions through out the dance were exquisite.

"Shiva and Parvati Revisited - A fiery and Exotic Love Story," was a duet by Meryem Vani and Ken Morris. A very interesting interplay between man and woman fusing Middle Eastern dance with hip hop. Parvati longs for the union of her distal half as the moon longs for the sun, but the joining is fortuitous.

"Between the Shadows, There's Steam" was a delightful and funny dance. Two girls working hard, decide to take some time off to dance a little and have some fun. The music started out as a very traditional piece, until they decide to "smoke" a little. Out came the sunglasses and some rock and roll music. They danced while keeping time to the music with bells on their feet and wrists. Tandemonium (Jean Duranti and Claudia Immerzeel) walked off the stage giving the audience laughter and an infectious happy feeling. Remember - Even in Central Asia, girls just want to have fun.

"The Challenge" was a duet of two personalities performed by one person -Tatianna. A difficult performance that was performed very well. She danced showing the two sides of a personality, the sweet lovely, and the dark angry, that is hidden deep inside all of us. The last dance of the evening was "Plan Nine." This dance started with a colorful UFO that landed, and out came "Vampira" who had a spell for everyone she met. Among those under her charms were two gravediggers, a police officer, and a bevy of witches. Of course, she killed them all, and they became zombies that roamed the audience looking for more victims. A dark comedy inspired by Ed Wood's sci-fi movie, it combined the macabre with twisted elements of Middle Eastern dance. Performers: Ya Helewa! (Amara "Vampira," Amanda, Kalila "Grave Diggers," Cassandra, Djahari, Lorraine Hanson "Witches," and Daveed a great "Policeman"

Each one of the dances told a different story that provided a variety of responses: laughter, sadness, shock, and rumination. Each dance was performed with creativity in both costume and choreography. These were inspirational to those who want to take traditional Middle Eastern dance to a different level by pushing it, pulling it, and fusing it into an expression of new thoughts, ideas, and feelings that want to be brought out in dance. Thank you to each and every performer and to Amara for a wonderful evening.

I look forward to seeing "An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance" again next year with great anticipation.