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Gilded Serpent presents...
Dance in a Rhode Island Summer
June 22, 2007, Performance in Tiverton
by Anajim

Rhode Island unrolled a small portion of its sidewalk this June in order to allow a group of performance artists to entertain a willing (if un-accustomed to ethnic style dancing) audience. Hosted by Barbara of The Dancing Spirit, this event was fun because of its lawn-party atmosphere; the picturesque small harbor view was the perfect venue for this family event! The performers comprised an eclectic group that presented varied types of dance. With only one of each of the different styles, the show moved along swiftly.

Our hostess began by dancing to a drum played by Eddie Thacker and Bella Donna, accompanying them on her finger cymbals. The bantering back and forth made for a delightful opening piece.

Next came "Off the Curb", a Hip Hop dance group. Under the direction of Jackie Henderson, these girls did an interesting routine using many of the company's original moves.

The hostess' students, ranging in age from 12 to 68, performing their teacher's original choreography to the drumming of Eddie and Bella Donna. It ended with a surprise. The group ran to the end of the boat dock and back with "flying veils". This was a stunning visual of silk veils and snug harbor scenes with the wind blowing both sail and veil.

Off the Curb" returned to dance a set of moves to a Reggae beat.


Author dancing as part of the event


Off The Curb

Flying veils on the dock

The next dancer was astonishing! She was Rosie Speck, dancer, and daughter or Providence's own Kristie Speck. At only 12 years of age, she is one of the most self-possessed and focused young Belly dancers that I have had the pleasure of watching. "So You Want to Move" was the name of her music, and young Rosie danced it with all the breaks in all the right places.

A trio of African dancers, along with two talented drummers, Sedu Coulibaly and Sidi of Mali, performed next. Michelle Bach Coulibaly is the teacher, and one of the dancers was her own twelve-year-old daughter, Asitan. The three young women performed for over ten minutes, expertly rendering a high-energy dance that I heard had Maori origins. The costumes seemed to denote that connection.


African Trio

Rosie and Barbara

Samara, a young Belly dancer from Portsmouth, Rhode Island danced next. She is a living statue down at our Waterfire, in Providence, and showed us how Belly dance looks when performed to the music of the band, “Nine Inch Nails.”

Following that modern work was an ancient-style one. Bella Donna bestowed a veil dance upon her audience in “old style.”  The wind, a constant part of the harbor scene, enhanced her beautiful antique-looking veil.  The sun had begun to set, and though gorgeous, the area became significantly chilly. (Welcome to our Rhode Island Coastal Region!) Consequently, we all moved into the studio's indoor space, and everyone who remained a part of the audience cuddled on pillows.

I received some emails after my dance!  One of them said: "Graceful and passionate." Another said, "You performed an intricate and theatrical Gypsy skirt dance; I have not seen one in a long time!" "I thoroughly enjoyed that Balkan tale of love gone wrong."

Finishing the performance part of the festivities, our hostess climbed upon her doumbeck and danced a lively drum solo that Bella Donna played expertly. Barb briefly duplicated the Tito trick of turning the drum around in a circle with her feet. As her grand finale, Barb shared "Obsession" (one of her first Flamenco fusion choreographies).

We partied to Balkan Music to complete our evening.


Barbara's Flamenco Fusion

dancers enter, including Samara in black

One of my few complaints was that there was no clear break during which to enjoy the food—non-stop mezza.  Another complaint was that there were no curtains on the dressing room windows, and the ones to the studio were extremely flimsy. Since this is a new venue for Barb, I imagine she will attend to these details in the future, and hopefully, she will have a right side safety railing built for the steep stairs from the studio deck down onto performance lawn. The existing stairs were treacherous!

A great family event, fun for old and young alike, I would highly recommend this type of event for summer fun.

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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

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