and Others Cavort in Marin County"
by Najia Marlyz
true! "The Living Goddess", for the seventh consecutive
year, returned to the Marin Art & Garden Center at the Barn Theatre.
The event was advertised as an annual summer solstice dance/theater event
multi-cultural Feminine Mythology-Dreamspell Portal. Well, that is quite
a tall order!
Many belly dance enthusiasts and belly dancers took part in the stage presentation,
perhaps in an effort to expand on their creative possibilities for dance performance.
A few of the dancers who were not directly connected to belly dance were also
part of the celebration.
As always, it was a delightful experience for me to see a stage presentation
in dance whether I like the theme, the dancers, the form, the technique,
I have wonderfully joyful
times when dancers, amateur or professional, try to stretch
This event was no exception,
and I delighted in
the walk from the parking lot up the hill past the charming round pond
life-sized bronze sculptures of Egrets "feeding" in the shallow
waters of the fountain. The barn is a funny little community theater, old,
seating, a small proscenium, and a full phalanx of lighting.
A long-time friend from the world of Oriental Dance, Dhyanis of Mill
Valley, California, was the Artistic Director of the "Living Goddess".
As usual, she did miracles with the volunteer dancers who are sometimes less
and more Goddess than anyone dare dream. How very Marin it all was! (Remember
Marin, where peacock feathers and hot tubs perpetuate the myth of Yuppie
heaven on earth?)
I made the fortuitous decision before arriving at the show that I would
take photos when possible and not look at the written program at all
until the whole
show had been presented. It was "fortuitous" because the print
was so small that I could only read it when
I hauled out my reading glasses and inspected it in the light instead of
the semi- darkness in which the audience struggled to refer to the written
I had decided that each dance
would either live in my memory or fall by the wayside by
its own lack of impact.
The first of the eighteen (yes, you read correctly, EIGHTEEN) dances
was memorable on several counts. Its dancers wore oversized and somewhat
scary masks that
were artistically rendered. Since I couldn't read the program in the
darkness, and considering my stubborn willingness to experience the
as a freestanding entity, I had no idea that the dance was supposed
to suggest something
about peacemaking among the warring indigenous tribes of the Northeast
American continent. I only knew it seemed to be ultra slow moving
and lasted interminably.
Natica Angilly appeared next in dark regalia against a dark background
on a dimly lit stage dancing her usual drifting and graceful peaceful
which she has become known in her quest as innovator of "dancepoetics".
The poem, written and read by Mary Rudge, was lighter than I have heard her
perform before and made up for the oppressive quality of the stage lights.
The third presentation was a scattered piece that could not be interpreted
satisfyingly without the rather long, involved explanation included
on the program safely tucked away in my handbag. The scene looked
dance freethinkers dancing about with three little non-dancing girls
dressed up for Halloween as fairies. They were cute. Just about this
time I was
longing for some long-winded mistress of ceremonies to give us a
clue, but that didn't
Alexandria, who is always stunning on stage with her ample cleavage
displayed prominently, gracefully wafted about and left me musing
about the story
I had evidently missed.
The next dancers dropped in abruptly and did an energetic fusion
dance resembling something Spanish to the music I recognized as the "Gypsy Kings".
They were fun to watch, but I wondered what this duet had to do with anything
of a goddess nature. Well, it must have been explained in the program.
I cannot recall the goddess who danced next, even when looking at
the program. The lack of lasting impact may mean that the dramatic
or a bit more punch.
The next piece was heavy with death and dying. It was only uplifting
because I easily recognized the content having been danced ably and
sincerity by Latifa (normally a fun loving, if irreverent, member of
the comedy group, "Dancers of DeNile") and Dhyanis with others. This
depressing piece was followed by a family story which I hope that the producer
extremely well received by the audience for its bright and happy content
and was danced
by Le'ema, Eric Bobrow and 9-year-old son Rafael with amazing stage presence.
The first half of the show closed with what appeared to me to be
beautifully costumed belly dance Vikings (err, Amazons it says in
the program but
they all had two breasts). I liked the presentation right up to the
they balanced double handled, swordlike drapery rods atop their pretty
heads. Inexplicable! Perhaps goddesses ought to forget their ingrained
belly dance backgrounds, or not, if that is what starts your juices
ACT II-Are you ready?
The tenth set was peculiar and futuristic in a plastic and discomforting
way that is unlike my vision of the possible future. As I witness
toward naturalism, recycling and such that has become the trend
in recent years, I think these plastic images will not become
had the odd look
of the future we envisioned in the 1960s! Nevertheless, it was
slick, dramatic and attention grabbing.
Next, six or more plaster-masked
goddesses whisked about the stage in a 1960's style blacklight
with white dancing scarves
a black background. My interest in "Blue Moon" waned, however, as
it dragged relentlessly and uncreatively on. Saw that 25 years ago and was
only mildly amused then. I think that "She who is a Goddess" could
be vastly more inventive using blacklight
Just as I thought I would be blacklighted and fog-machined
to death, out came Dhyanis and David Henry as "Lillith in the Garden". Dhyanis looked
svelte and lithe as she wound herself about her partner. It was a grand duet
but I would have preferred to see "Adam" in a more near state of
undress than a full orange-tea colored leotard. Yeah, even if his body was
not Adonis. Never mind, it was good anyway.
One of my favorite parts of the evening
was "The Green Man and the Snake" which was
definitely an audience-pleaser. Humorous, and a tad raunchy,
Le'ema was nonetheless fun to watch. It was also a delight
concept (Snake costume by
Dhyanis). Another, real snake danced shortly after. The second
was captivating and finely done, I think by Vanessa Pool, (unless
I am hopelessly confused after so many goddesses had graced
Not to be easily forgotten, between the
two snakes, was a solo by Walter Thompson III who danced to
his own poetry. He was wearing the Emperor's New Clothes and
dance. Quite buff though, and I am certain he achieved the
effect for which he was
Lorna Zilba and Company presented a "Persian" view of the goddess
scene. It was floating, airy, lovely and softly danced and choreographed.
Though I longed for a little more passion in the scenario, still the images
in my mind.
The highlight of my evening was a little dance by Ellen
Brooks in memory of Janet Jacob, neither of whom was known to me.
dramatic and costumed appropriately. It felt complete and definitely
left an impression.
The last set was choreographed by Dhyanis
and danced by her along with "Troupe Dhyanis". I would love to
say it was wonderful because I like these women but talents were uneven
and the presentation too much like a hundred other Belly Dance based presentations
I have attended over the years. Also, the show was much too much. I would
have preferred to see each half on consecutive evenings.
Congratulations to Dhyanis for a job well done and to all the
dancers who strive to do more than the same old same-old. If
to mention your dance,
it doesn't mean it wasn't any good; it simply means that the
evening was overwhelmingly long and included so many, many
Next time the Goddesses run rampant in Marin, you must attend.
However, we can hope for fewer dances, more dramatic clarity,
perhaps a mistress
to guide us through, and even more distance from the tired typical
belly dance movements.
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