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Andrea Makris, Melusina, and Trisnasari of Underbelly in Seattle
Gilded Serpent presents...
From the Land Down-under, Part 3:
More of Our West Coast Dance Adventure

by Trisnasari
of Melbourne, Australia

part 1 here
part 2 here
Our third adventure of our recent tour was a reunion with Paulette Rees-Denis in her hometown, Portland, Oregon. We had hosted her at Underbelly a month prior, and it was a pleasure to see her again so soon! By this stage of our tour, we felt finished with both train and road travel; so, we opted to fly back up north from Oakland.

We performed at the Tribal Lounge and enjoyed a captivating show by Paulette and the rest of Gypsy Caravan, including live music by her husband, Jeff, and crew.

Because of the organic nature of the Gypsy Caravan performance, a trance dance performed by Paulette and supported by her beautiful dancers stirred and impressed me.

The next day, Paulette and Jeff, who were exceptional hosts and guides, took us on a nature tour of Oregon. That night, we delivered a workshop in the inspiring space that is The Gypsy Caravan studio. The workshop presented our inspirations and a few key combinations from "Kali", as we had performed it the previous night at Tribal Lounge.

Andrea began the session with a Yoga warm-up, balancing poses, and strengthening exercises for abdominal, back, and glutei muscles. There are a few deep backbends and balancing on one leg in Kali that are held for a while, to put it gently. Mel followed with some of her Melusina homegrown, new Tribal combinations, including the fiery, Flamenco inspired, Leo Combination. Kali features also Flamenco arms and Floreos. I finished with a session on layering and an exploration of movement that built to improvising in partners, based around the ideas of "The Shadow", "The Delay" and "Siamese Twins". The movements in Kali inspired by the Matrix film, require close, but not always entirely synchronized, work. In the Whip Movement, we try to look like we have moved from being one body to a digitally enhanced body dodging bullets from one side to the next. (Perhaps you might picture movements similar to those portrayed in the movie "The Matrix"). After the workshop, we were guests at a vegetarian banquet at Paulette and Jeff's, and the following day, we made our second sad farewell of the trip.

In last week of our tour, we experienced another adventure, laying roots in Oakland and San Francisco and soaking up the life there. My brother lives in San Francisco and Andrea's best friend lives in Oakland, so we were fortunate to have homes there to give us the feeling that we were really living it.

What is there to see and do in San Francisco and Oakland? The answer is Belly dance (especially Tribal)!

We had a private lesson with Jill Parker in Berkeley and went to one of her general classes accompanied by live music, which proved to be a fantastic experience for us, We love Jill's style. We had seen her and Ultra Gypsy at the Undulation Night on our first weekend, in amongst our Rakkasah festival madness. We loved that performance and the lessons even more. She exudes the pride and grace of the American Tribal Style, with fluidity, accent and posture reminiscent of Egyptian style dance. What a great combination!

We also went to a couple of classes taught by Tiffany. Both Tiffany and Jill demonstrated an interest in properly using Polyrhythmic movement in which the hips reflect one rhythm, while simultaneously the ribs reflect another. Other times, their technique demonstrated rhythm in the hips and fluidity in the upper body, for example: smooth rib circles on top of loose hip shimmies.

At Suhaila’s studio, Mel and Andrea were fortunate to have had an exchange with matriarch Jamila Salimpour: Star struck, they stared at her, and she approached saying, "Hi, I'm Suhaila's mum; I hear you Underbelly girls are good zillers!"

We don't know how that got around, but that's the sort of viral marketing we like!

Andrea and Mel were dubious about living up to their reputation but rose to the occasion, chink-chinking the tricky combination Jamila presented for them. Where was I? I was sitting in saddle position and practicing splits in the second hard-core conditioning warm-up at the studio that night. We had opted for taking two classes back-to-back, not having heard that all of her daughter's classes were extremely physical in nature. The next day, I got a massage and sulked at having missed such a brush with fame!

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Ready for more?
7-31-06 From the Land Down-under, Part I: The Festival by Trisnasari of Melbourne, Australia
In the wings, before we hit the festival stage, Andrea whispered to Mel and I, “Well, this is our first international performance!”

9-12-06 From the Land Down-under, Part 2: Northeast and Canada by Trisnasari. What is happening in Australia, is also happening in America.

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