vs. Barbary Coast:
an east coast west coast showdown….
Gina Grandi puts on
a show of astronomical proportions.
Review and photos by Surreyya
Grandi can put a hell of a show together,
but it’s literally the first time I have ever
said you got your moneys worth by just attending
one half of a show. I was excited to do this
review at first because I had never caught Bellyqueen live,
and had only seen the maiden voyage of Barbary,
so I was hungry for what they had to dish out,
and already stuffed by intermission. There was
way too much to see here and hardly enough time
to catch a breath in between sets. This was
insane – I’m not sure if that’s good or bad,
but it is what it is. That said, if I didn’t
select a particular ensemble to cover here, I
meant no wrong by it. It could take a website
to fulfill that task.
show starts with the Barbary Coast
Allstars, and their fun and frolicky
saloon girl sauciness. Rose Harden, Mira
Betz, Susan Frankovich and Elizabeth
Strong have a keen eye for clever costuming,
and I could swear I spotted some tasty vintage
nouveau bits thrown in for good measure. What
I liked so much about this group of merry misfits
was their ability to entertain as opposed to out
drill everyone on the latest technique du jour.
Comedic timing, clever costuming and an endless
supply of mojo bring about the wonderment of the
early settlers of the California gold rush, with
a taste of burlesque, and a taunt of influences
from around the globe. Throw in equal parts attitude,
confidence, femininity and spice, and they take
you on a ride through bawdy bar room brawls and
thrills of early San Francisco, or really any hip
dive of the late 1800s to early 1900s.
more, as beautiful as these girls are, they
really exude earthiness in a raw and traveled
way. These aren’t your average cheerleaders
or prom queens; these are the girls from down
the way that have your back, ready to light
up a smoke, do a couple of shots **(more on
that later) and exclaim “What!? You gotta problem
with that?!” with a velvet moxie.
Bellyqueen - Popping, locking, hip hopping and
bellyrolling with an enthusiasm that was wonderfully
genuine. I was reminded of a scene from the film
Xanadu where two very different acts were putting
their best talents on display only to intersect
at apexes of wonder, and I rather enjoyed the integrated
mount and dismount of sets between both dance companies.
was tight; their technique was amazing, but
not knowing much about the genre bending they
are up to, their performance left me feeling
a little more sweet than street.
may very well be their intention. Full of energy
and apt, this show was off to a very powerful beginning
with some incredible performers and definitely
kept my interest. With everyone clad in fabulous
costumes, and with such beautiful and interesting
people in the mix, you’d have to be a pontiff to
not be absorbing the eye candy flying about.
interwove, and ensembles began to break down into
a variety of solos, duets, trios and build back
up onto full casts towards the end. Solos of note: Kaeshi performed
a very intense and inspiring solo with a beautiful
cape and a very eerie and emotional interplay with
a white mask, which she donned upon her arrival
on the stage. Drama, depth and a profound message
of identity and introspection are what I retained. Very
powerful, I felt as though Kaeshi was fighting
an internal struggle or reaching a very personal turning
point somehow, and releasing that message to the
Betz donned an amazing gunmetal costume
with strategically placed mesh (…ahem) and exuded
an otherworldly confidence and intrigue – enough
to make me wonder if Alfonse Mucha was sketching
her somewhere in the audience.
lovely and graceful as always and wonderfully costumed
for her routines. It was a little disappointing
to not see Amar in more of the troupe choreographies
– she really rounds out the energy and I wanted
to see her dance more.
A Rose by
any other name than Harden would not be as sweet. I
don’t know many other dancers I can describe as
solid and tough while soft and feminine at the
same time. Rose just has that rock-solid old-school
foundation of craft while still being able to emote
ever changing and emerging styles. I wish I knew
her secret – she is a true pioneer.
don’t have the real estate on this site to go on
and on – some last bits, I really enjoyed Bellyqueen’s
Cane dance – not a fan of the cane in particular,
they made it exciting and more than just a cutesy
show of pet tricks – it was truly fun and engaging. The
carousel number where each dancer was donned in
caricature (mime, clown, etc.) was adorable, and
each member displayed a unique choreography to
their character as they rotated like an old carnival
machine. Eleshiva did
a very energetic and athletic solo finished with
a Turkish drop that literally made me grab my knees
to see if they were still there. Mira Betz and
Liz Strong performed a fun gag that seemed like
to early 1900 guys/sailors in a machismo competition.
Daring each other in a show of muscles and bravado,
they even finished with a drinking contest sporting
2 shot glasses and a bottle of *Maker’s Mark. Awesome. The
only flaw here was I couldn’t understand why oh
why they chose such swill – next time girls, round
up some raki, arak or ouzo, and I’ll come up and
do a shot with you.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
For One, Two very different DVDs on Turkish Dance
reviewed, DVD review by Surreyya
I Love Turkish Dance by Sarah Skinner & Turkish
Style Belly Dance by Elizabeth Artemis Mourat
Dance: Secrets of the Professionals Book reviewed
by Surreyya Hada
Paco Sevilla, one of the foremost flamencologists, writes nearly an encyclopedia
and professional reference book for the ambitious dancer let alone, flamenco
enthusiast, musician or dancer.
Animal Magnetism, Interview with Morgana of Madrid by
seeing Morgana’s Serpent Dance, where she embodies
the personality of the serpent, I was hooked. Any snake
lovers or snake dancers will have a special appreciation
for this piece.
Fusion, Bedouin, What's the Difference? 4 DVDs reviewed
and compared by Rebecca Firestone
When I see a dancer I really like, I want to *be*
her, or him, right at that moment. My heart leaps at the
music and then leaps again when I see what they're doing.
With this one, I was interested, but not that engaged.
Birth of a Dance Scene, The History of Oriental
Dance in Switzerland by Meissoun
allow me to introduce some of these groundbreakers so that
you will appreciate what it was like to be an Oriental
dancer in Switzerland in the early 1980s.
International Belly Dance Congress told by
Salwa of Belgium and the winner of the contest
September 28-30, 2007, in Bogner Regis, England Gala photos provided by Josephine
Wise, others by author.
being able to prepare my planned choreography properly for
the Oum Kalthoum song, which is not easy to interpret to begin
with, I quickly turned to emotions in order to fill up the
Textiles Part 3: Creating Your Unique Statement by
is possible that you may never have performed professionally
while wearing a lampshade on your head…but I have!