West 2002 Looms Ahead
Originally published in Caravan Magazine
revised for Gilded Serpent August 29,2001 and again
November 29, 2001
U.S.--January 5 After 9 a.m. pst Call: 510-724-0214 for live
or taped music
U.S. Dancers --January
6 After 9 a.m. pst Solo, Duo, Trio 7 minutes Troupes of 4 or more
Your Live Band or tape (510) 724-0214
Our Live Bands (510) 724-436
started out over two decades ago as a simple opportunity
for local dancers and dance troupes to try their new wings
with live music has matured and as with all things which
mature, Rakkasah has somewhat changed its nature.
still is an attempt to give all dance performers an equal opportunity,
results of the phone-in to book a dance time is often very chancy
because of high demand. Shukriya, the producer of Rakkasah, as
well as one of its originators, still believes that the phone-in
procedure is a necessity, and is the most expedience procedure. It
is my own observation that it is also what keeps the show a constant
surprise in regard to the levels of competence and presentation. Many
lovely dancers are shut out by the sheer volume of dancers who
wish to participate. The age groups represented are as widespread
as the levels of technique shown. The whole process, as Shukriya
says, "each year has reflected the one before it. The general
level of competence has vastly improved over the years."
noticed that the troupes, which sometimes have been a pathetic
conglomeration of dancers with extreme fear of solo work,
have finally begun to treat troupe work as the tough, demanding
choreographic discipline it really must be in order to be
are incompetent beginners banded together as "doo-op" girls
while the teacher or leader solos in the forefront anymore. Oh,
well, I do have to admit that it does still happen occasionally!
I am in favor of the attempt to include everyone when possible,
I do not think it is satisfying to any audience to have a bunch
of warm bodies to dress up as background fluff or to hold each
other's hands when stage work seems fearful to them.
the many troupes that have grown in concept of dance, costuming,
and choreography over the years.
Rakkasah soloists are, on the whole, more sophisticated in both
technique and costuming than they were even a decade ago.
are the torn curtains, "raggle-taggle", gypsy-esque
costumes of the seventies and early eighties. They are not
is not to say that all soloists are now great dancers, but at least
all were worth looking at for a couple of minutes. (Seven minutes
of a dull performer can seem an eternity, while seven minutes of
someone with charisma or drama or stage-craft can seem over in
a flash.) Above all, what seems to be emerging is that spirit
of individualism and glamour, of not wanting to be just like everyone
else, but to stand out from the crowd, even if only by force of
glitter alone. Many of these soloists do tend to over-dance,
mistaking quantity of movement for meaningful movement, but we
can hope that the calming influence of an increasing Arabic contingency
in the audience will eventually take hold.
this much money and effort invested in Middle Eastern dance
will go a long way toward creative excellence and maturation
of our dance form.
rightfully boasts having participants from international sources,
such as Germany, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Canada, Switzerland,
North Africa, France, and Central America, as well as all of the
parts of the United States. It will be fun to watch and participate
in this ever maturing festival, "Rakkasah", as she spins
into her next few years and also to watch her expansion now into
Rakkasah East as well as West.
of the Spirit by Sierra Suraci
what are you contributing - either to their dilution as a people
or the strengthening of their true image.
Star Remembered, The Maturation of a Career in Performing"
... last thing in the world that I wanted for myself and my own dance career
was to be a "forty year old belly dancer".
CARAVAN 2001 Lumbers Through the Bay Area with Heavy Feet by
Born and raised
in Lebanon, Lilly puzzles over an American bellydance festival in Oakland,