Rakkasah East Festival 2010
Photos by Carl Sermon
Commentary by MaShuqa
posted October 17, 2011
Rakkasah East Festival 2010, the 11th year of this annual festival in Somerset, New Jersey celebrates a blossoming friendship community of East and West coast dancers and musicians. The festival is the East coast version of the 30 year old Rakkasah West Festival tradition in California. This art form of dance is in constantly flux and now includes many different influences in costuming and performance.
It was fascinating to observe the new trends in performance, costumes, and dance styling at this year’s festival: Rainbow colors, Fan veils, Feather fans, Silk veils, Isis Wings, and contemporary costuming designs. A predominant costuming style for dance troupes was similar costume designs with each dancer wearing different colors to personalize their costuming providing a rainbow effect when troupes performed. Flowers and feathers adorned costumes and headpieces. Silk veils dyed to match costumes, or in brilliant contrasting colors were popular and created height and flow in performance. Some troupes performed excellent choreography wearing dancewear usually worn in class – the basic wrap top, dance pants and hip wrap.
Festivals are always fun because of the community support and sharing. Likely attending a Middle Eastern dance festival first, two who met at Rakkasah East festival were married onstage. She, a dancer in a golden beaded dress, and he, a musician wearing his family’s traditional Scottish tartan plaid, were both festival volunteers who met after the passing of their spouses. Their wedding reception started on stage as the audience began celebrating the marriage by throwing money on the stage as they danced their first dance.
Barakat Middle East Dance Company of Maryland
Basema of Maryland
Dancers of the Pharaoh and Mahalat Kinnari
Dena Shazadi Dancers of New York
Fatima al Wahid of California
Fire Blossoms, Rising Sirens, and BellyQueen of New York
Kaechi Chai of New York
Fliegende Zirkus of New Jersey
Ghada Girls of New York
Habiba Dance Ensemble of Pennsylvania
Laura Belly Trance Company of New York
Layla Mary and Scott Wilson of New York
Leilah of Pennsylvania
Metal Goddess Bellydancers of New York
Nubian Moon Daughters of New York
Queens of the Universe of Virginia
Saiedah of New York
Samra of New York
Shadia of California
Shir-El of New York
Tempest of Rhode Island
Troupe Tahya of Pennsylvania
Wild Gypsy Fire of New Jersey
Willow of New York
Yuliya of New Jersey
Zenaide of New York
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