Report of the
2004 Ya Halla Y'all
August 21, 2004
by Craig Campbell
Saturday evening show at Isis' annual
Ya Halla, A Gathering of Stars was one of
the best dance shows we have had the pleasure of attending
this year. There were three shows, beginning at 8:00
p.m. in the Grapevine Convention Center in Grapevine,
Texas and none of the three shows were without superstar
performances. There was also a great new look to
the stage this year with custom arches, rich burgundy
curtains, Egyptian themed statues, and a wooden floor.
Wings of Isis opened the first show,
entering on stage with huge Isis Wings. They performed
an original choreography that was a joint effort between
the members and Sa'diyya, the Assistant
Artistic Director for Wings. These ladies did not
just carry their props around- they really danced!
We could not take our eyes off them- they were excellent!
peek at the sword work of Isis
caught at another event.
performing was Bahaia of Austin,
wearing the cutest pink pants with ruffles and matching
bra. As always, Bahaia was the essence of Egyptian
style, performing big hip circles and little hip locks
with subtle shimmies and slow mayas looking up to
of Midnight Mirage dance troupe,
next took the stage wearing royal blue. This was
my first time to see Tirza perform. Among other movements,
she performed a big hip circle with a drop from her
waist swinging her blonde hair around dramatically.
She also performed a forceful hip lock and chest lock
and Aisha from Bedouin Dancers
in San Antonio, dressed in many layered skirts, performed
a gypsy dance with tambourines. Part of the music
was a Karsilimar, to which they performed three count
turns with little finger snaps and lifting their foot
to the back in a little point.
one of the Wings of Isis, and wearing
one of her original designs in black and green, performed
to a musical selection from Wash Ya Wash.
In one of the slow dramatic heavy drum parts of the
music, she performed a drop to floor kneeling.
of San Antonio (and Karavan) is always
one of our favorite dancers to watch. Her muscle control
is just amazing. For a moment, she posed with her
hip far out and down and her body in a diagonal line,
but her arms reaching out to audience. She also did
some dramatic layering of hip, abs and torso.
Isis Performing Companies closed
the first show with an exciting candle and sword routine.
Half the dancers carried two candles and the other
half balanced swords on their heads. These ladies
are lovely dancers and showed remarkable precision
as they weaved candles between swords.
from the Wings of Isis opened the
second show wearing a silver and black beaded costume.
She performed a deep backbend combo to saidi beat,
with chest pops on the second "doum doum." She has
a real talent connecting with the audience and it
is always so much fun to watch her face while she
dances- a dancer who has it all, great technique and
tons of personality.
Mirage, a troupe from Utah, next took the stage
wearing white bedlahs, and sheer layers of white harem
pants and skirts, carrying and playing doumbeks. They
made great use of the stage and there was a good bit
of going to the back of the stage to make a dramatic
walk diagonally across to the front; it was very effective.
They performed arabesque/undulation combinations, and
some pretty intense shimmies.
(2003 Belly Dancer of the Year and winner of 2004
West Coast BDSS Star Search) danced next wearing
a fabulous yellow costume and yellow veil. She
is always so much fun to watch that we could hardly
take our eyes off of her to write notes. We did
notice a long diagonal lean, with hips drops down,
chest drops down, and ended in a spectacular Turkish
next in-group choreography was Karen
Barbee's troupe Karavan
from San Antonio. They performed synchronized
undulation/pelvic drop combinations and backward
walks with downward hip figure eights and
chest rolls. They had, as always, great isolations
and moved in almost perfect unison.
(winner of the 2004 Belly
Dancer of the Universe) danced next in a black and
green costume with veil. To a portion of her music
that was very slow and sexy sounding, she performed
a big slow hip circle, torso circle to the ground, tossing
Boz from San Diego, CA came out in one-piece
black jumpsuit with silver trim and got the crowd
going with his enthusiastic and entertaining dance.
With a mischievous smile, he performed belly rolls,
shimmies, and turned his back to the audience to
show off alternating butt isolations to the music
Wings of Isis danced again to close the
second show in a piece choreographed by Sa'diyya
and Jewel. All dressed in white and silver two-
piece costumes they again executed another fun choreography
with lots of shimmies and smiles. Then the hostess
for the entire evening, Isis, came
out in black and copper to ignite the audience.
The consummate entertainer she performed her signature
multi-sword routine balancing 4 swords while spinning,
shimmying, and even doing the splits. It is wonderful
to see her performing again after a two- year hiatus.
third show opened with Harry Saroyan
singing with drum accompaniment by Issam. Mr.
Saroyan was also emceeing the show so not only
were we treated to his beautiful singing voice
but we also were entertained by his good- natured
jokes throughout the evening
danced next in a blue and purple gypsy silk
skirt and top with matching veil. Her fire
and grace were breathtaking to watch. Her
flamenco arms were fluid and her kick and
cross over turn a joy to watch. She discarded
the blue/purple veil and undulated across
the stage on her knees to a veil the color
of a sunrise and a matching hot pink feather
fan. She rose to perform one of her signature
Darwish came on the stage with his ever-present
smile carrying a doumbek and a set of bongos. He
began his set playing the doumbek and stirred the
crowd with his finger rolls and doums then he switch
to the bongos. The speed of his hands and the wonderful
music they produced brought the audience to their
Jamal, the renown choreographer from
Miami came out in gold illusion lace dress.
Her dance was beautiful, subtle and so very
Egyptian. Her lovely smile and graceful movements
enchanted the audience as she performed classic
cabaret with touches of folkloric.
- entered in two- piece green costume. The bra and
belt were covered with gold coins and large green
stones. She began her performance with a slow mesmerizing
veil routine that had a variety of swirling movements
then performed to an up tempo piece to which she amazed
the crowd her skilled use of shimmies and locks while
she floated across the stage.
Thaleb of Argentina
was suffering from a stomach virus but performed like
the professional he is despite being ill. He came
out wearing a burnt orange overcoat with gold sequined
trim with black sheer shirt underneath, black pants
and boots. He performed a variety of folkloric steps
including a rousing debke and then grabbed a cane
and twirled it with blazing speed.
the crowd going crazy, he then came off the stage
and pulled ladies up from their seats to dance with
him. When he went back up on stage, he removed the
overcoat and continued with his high-energy dance
to a rousing ovation.
of Miami, FL came out in a shimmering white and silver
beaded two- piece costume with white iridescent wings.
As always she provided wonderful entertainment with
great variety movements and skill. She then shed
her wings and performed a dynamic drum solo.
and Issam closed this exciting evening
of dance. Issam came out first and "warmed" the audience
up by playing rhythms and having each side of the
audience clap back the response. Issam began to play
a steady rhythm and Jillena appeared on stage a beautiful
blue and yellow costume. What followed was an amazing
display of dancer and drum rhythm becoming one. Jillena
performed a dazzling array of flutters, rolls, locks,
and shimmies to Issam's fabulous and varying rhythms.
Slow or fast, she personified the music and the obvious
camaraderie between the two was a delight to watch.
annual August shows are always great and professionally
presented but the show on Saturday truly lived up to its
billing as 'A Gathering of Stars'. We can't wait for
Next year's shows will be held August 18-
and Tamara a.k.a. Rhykiah
and Badriyya can be seen often dancing
with their husbands Radu and Borislav
who along with Ja'Nena are the Middle
Eastern percussion group DoumSmack.
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