San Francisco Performance
Reviewed by Surreyya
Ansuya and Belly dancer enthusiast and event
producer Gina Grandi provide warm environment
to feature up and coming local talent.
began studying with Belly dance Superstar Ansuya in early 2001.
After Ansuya’s relocation to Florida, Gina migrated to San Francisco
to study with Suhaila Salimpour and Jill
Parker of Ultra Gypsy. It was there she also
nurtured her love of event planning through her brother’s company
Opel Productions. Gina expressed to me that it was thrilling
for her to be able to work with her brother and discover a world
where her love of dance could intersect. Gina and Opel invited
Gilded Serpent to their recent December 10th
event, featuring Ansuya and a diverse mix of bay area dancers…I
and my student report for duty at 7pm and can actually pull right
up and park in San Francisco…the night already started on a good
foot...shall we begin?
must have cloned herself several times over. I swear she greeted
everyone at the front door with a smile and calm unheard of in
most event hosts. The event space at the new Workspace Limited
was a bit cold in an all-white live-work-artspace kind of way,
but the art installations, peddlers and overall warm vibe went
a long way. Among the sellers of stuff was Rose
of Ultra Gypsy, whom I immediately purchased two hip
skirts, which she makes by hand. All were glitzy and unique!
Wonderful. Gina sauntered to and fro with that pre-Christmas
anticipation of surprises to come, making sure her guests were
welcomed and performers were cared for. I was quite surprised
at the diversity of the crowd and there was ample time to browse,
booze and mingle to world-flavored tunes spun by DJs Amar
and Richie Rich. Gina took the stage and gracefully
enticed the crowd to the delights awaiting them.
began with Bast and Tallula Sullis
performing a tantric inspired ritual to awaken “shakti” energy
and open the hearts and minds of all in attendance. Not having
witnessed many “public” tantric acts, tantric inspired events
or tantranistas I am not really qualified to evaluate this performance
and will reserve judgment.
I did witness were two provocatively dressed voluptuous beauties
in white lace under things covered in fairy dust greeting a
curious group and proceeding to the stage with white roses and
carnations, milky liquid and wonderment. Bast and Tallula appeared
to pray and/or meditate, bless their ingredients and each other
in some very sensual movements.
bestowed their goddessy form, mystery and blessings upon the audience
in a playful nymph-like way, offering flowers, whispering blessings
and sharing smiles and eye contact with all. While one may dwell
in the overtones of this performance and attach their own sexual
baggage to it, I do think it was intended to be innocent, playful,
and respectful to the wonderment and beauty of the feminine form.
It’s very comical the sexual stigmas we attach to acts of beauty
in this country, while in many countries girls hold hands and
kiss each other with the utmost innocence and it’s perfectly accepted
and understood. Had these girls worn a different color (black
or red), I wonder how the energy and mood would have shifted and
what assumptions would be present. Definitely a good lesson in
how a color can affect perception, and people were definitely
warmed up for the night.
was Sarah White, a long time member of Ultra
Gypsy. I learned from Gina that Sarah lived, studied and cohabitated
with the Kalbelia Tribe of gypsies, also known as the
snake charmers of India.
costume was loud, folkloric and exotic all in one word that
I can’t find. Her dance was proud, fast and spirited and
evoked a timeless quality and somehow looked as though she
jumped off the cover of a National Geographic magazine.
was ill-equipped to capture the beauty of Sarah’s costume and
performance, unless you dare call the images artistic blur (damn
low-light-shutter-speed-bad-camera karma), but that should only
encourage you to see her in person. Sarah performed a fun trick,
placing money and rings on the stage then launching into a backbend
to pick up the bill in her mouth and rings with her eyelids.
Now that’s something you don’t see every day. I imagined if I
were on a mystical journey in some far away exciting land, this
would be the real deal of the dances performed in the streets.
Proud, shameless, beautiful and raw.
of the Nekiya in tasteful tribal performed a charming
solo with clever music and the accompaniment of a live drummer.
Summer exposed a warm and friendly persona in her performance,
which I often find missing from the tribal style. It is nice
to see a dancer who connects with an audience, is playful, and
isn’t afraid to smile, giggle and interact. I miss this energy
when watching many tribal style dancers. Perhaps that is the
poker face, the cold, solemn serious presence that many tribal
or goth inspired dancers evoke as a perception while dancing,
but it often puts a barrier between performer and crowd. Summer
seemed confident, friendly and conversed smoothly with her drummer
companion Scott Sterling (music guru for Nekiya),
playing off the subtleties of rhythms and enhancing the low and
high beats with appropriate body accents. Refreshing to see a
drummer and dancer communicate for a change.
Summer’s dance, Sandra
sauntered on stage in a hot red costume, beautiful as always and
in top form. I won’t deny it - I am a fan of Sandra, her professionalism,
her disposition, and her attitude. After reading her helpful
articles and many visits to her website where she generously
shares advice and tips, I was delighted to see her perform for
the first time.
is a highly skilled dancer, she is comfortable, technically
apt, and makes you feel as if you are the only person she is
dancing for, even in a large crowd. That is a quality to be
respected and savored. I see Sandra as one of those performers
who could have been rained on, dog died, car stolen, insert
your favorite tragedy here, and she would still show up early
to a gig and be “on” from the moment she walked in the door.
That’s a star.
came Ansuya. Her costume was lime green and
lovely, and with her spins and turns her luscious long hair seemed
to float on the air. Ansuya is an emoter. She emotes. Much
in the way a Dina or Amaya
would express their heart using utilizing their face as a canvass
and eyes as voice. She has a presence that wins you over from
introduction, and captures a nostalgic quality of the dancers
of the 1970s. Her veil doesn’t get stale, and her dance isn’t
over crowded with layer upon layer of confused energy and accent.
I found my eyes traveling equal distance between her face and
her body, which is probably a good thing. With a little more time
to perform as the featured dancer, Ansuya took us on a journey
of musical delights and it didn’t get old. She invited her drummer
(and beau!) to perform a tasteful drum solo and the eye contact
between them was sugary sweet.
was exciting to witness her whisk through the crowd and invite
people to dance, Gina among them, which offered a positive sense
of closure on a nicely organized event. She truly had a “star
quality” and presence about her, was friendly and gracious and
didn’t hesitate to stop her busy schedule to talk with people
or take photos.
was an excellent event – Opel Productions knows how to whip up
a fun shindig with good people, quality talent and a welcoming
atmosphere for any level of dancer or enthusiast. At $10, a purveyor
of entertainment got more than 5 minutes to connect with each
performer and the playbill wasn’t overcrowded. I really can’t
think of anything I didn’t like. I am sad having missed Ansuya’s
workshop earlier in the day, but understand that in 2007, she
will be producing a variety of workshops as well as comprehensive
training and certification in her method of dance. Gina and Opel
plan on hosting these events more regularly, providing a frequent
showcase for up and coming dancers, as well as an opportunity
for students to have access to instruction and networking with
their influences and aspirations. Be on the lookout at OPEL’s
site for the January 14th Ansuya workshop and event.
only thing missing from this event was drama; stressed out hostesses
running too and fro, gig anxiety and ulterior motives. Gina’s
ready smile, welcoming attitude, humble disposition and genuine
warm and inviting nature make her the true superstar of this
event, and she should serve as a role model for other producers
with her mother and brother of Opel Productions
Summer, Ansuya and Sandra
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
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