Nabila Metwali On Tour!
December 24, 2000
Club El Valenciano
San Francisco, CA

Review by
Bobbie Giarrantana and Susie Poulelis

Photos by Susie Poulelis

  The Christmas Eve performance was exceptional, another fantastic night at El Valenciano! Fadi Hanani and the Arabian Knights accompanied Nabila during her nearly two-hour act, the kick-off for a U.S. tour lasting several months. In Lebanon, she usually performs with a twenty-two-piece band including two backup dancers choreographed by Nabila. Such an ensemble would have been impossible to bring on U.S. tour, however, so our local Arabian Knights filled in with Nabila-requested songs and rocked the house. While her backup dancers are normally choreographed, her performance that night was somewhat improvised and spontaneous, owing to a different band and format than she is accustomed.
  Some say she is the new Nadia Gamal. Dancing since she was four years old, she is very clear that she performs Oriental Dance, not belly dance its American cousin. Although debke is clearly an influence (witnessed in her last set when she treated the audience to a cane dance) her style is unmistakably modern, if not somewhat brazen.
  She explained that the purpose in her dance is to "perform the art of the body" and describes how each dance tells a story. She might suddenly drop to her knees as if praying and then spring up and delight the crowd with her playful pistol gestures, expressing a woman's mock frustration with men. Her performance is very athletic, including high kicks and backbends.
  Nabila's costumes were custom made from her own ideas in Beirut, and the audience got an eyeful. They were dazzled by the heavily decorated, jewel-encrusted material. Baubles, glitter and trinkets swayed with her hips and vibrated with every expert shimmy. There were three costume changes throughout the evening starting with a gorgeous turquoise, changing to fiery orange then a muted chartreuse.
  Her cane dance in the last set was mesmerizing; she moved adeptly and used it as a ploy to work the crowd. She playfully pulled people out of their seats her cane to dance along with her as the rest off the house threw money from all directions. Her show was cut short around 2 am. She was on Las Vegas time and didn't allow for the fact that in California, clubs have to close at this time. It appeared as if she could have lasted hours longer in the spotlight!
  This show was videotaped, intended to air with the Lebanese Broadcast Corporation and Air Radio Television in Australia, Africa, the U.S. and the Middle East.

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