Rockin’ the Casbah is going to be an interesting show. I’m probably breaking all kinds of rules, but I think its okay if you know what they are and have respect for their purpose, if you are a master in your craft, with the proficiency to do a fusion well and if you accurately name what you’re doing…call it what it is. Well, maybe “rules” isn’t the right word…but anyone who knows me knows how much love and resect I have for this beautiful art form with its roots deep in the sand and soil of Egypt and the Middle East. So maybe the rules are my own. But besides being a dance teacher, troupe leader, choreographer, student & solo artist, I also like to think of myself as a bit of a preservationist. Past shows have always had an instructional element to them by including folkloric dance and different styles of Egyptian dance. It is important to keep dances alive and gift them to the public. Dances like the hagallah and the khaleegi. But this show is different. This time the medium is the message.
I wanted to showcase The Big Band and their versatility – our lovely vocalist Rebekah, our talented players; from the beauty of the ballad to standard swing pieces. I want to showcase my friend Fawn who has the most amazing rich voice I ever heard. I want to dance with her singing beside me – a duet of voice and movement. I want my dancers to perform to live music again – and right now the only live music I have access to is the big band.
I wanted to showcase my dancers in both troupe and solo situations. I gave everyone an equal invitation to express interest in doing a solo and actually managed to find a place for everyone who responded. I wanted to give them the same opportunity I was giving myself – the opportunity to stretch their wings and explore whatever element of the dance they are led to. Some are going outside their own boxes to look at fusions of their own. Others are intensifying their study of Sharqi because that is where their hearts lead them. I wanted to stretch my own wings as a choreographer and venture into dance fusion.
How wonderful it would be if I could marry my two loves together – big band and bellydance! Saba will be dancing two fusion dance numbers to live big band music. I won’t tell you what they are – you’ll have to come to the show and see! In addition, there will be fusion involving other non-traditional music, interesting and unusual props, a theatre element, on and on. And oh, yes – there will be bellydance, too! Good old fashioned Raqs Sharqi will definitely be there along with a good dose of traditional music – no worries on that account!
Besides showcasing The Big Band and Saba Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble, I will admit to a vanity – I want to showcase myself as the creator and artistic director. I wanted to create something very special. I really wanted to stretch my wings and move outside my box – do something creative and unique that will bring all the threads of my creative life together. Every single troupe number as well as my own solo pieces are original works created by me. I chose the pieces the band will be playing. I really struggled over the shape the show would take. How in the world does one put two completely different art forms together on the same stage? God, I hope it works!