show update

I’ve been meaning to write a show update but it seems I just never get a moment to collect my thoughts. But I’m overdue for a post and so I’m going to just quickly toss out a few words and thoughts. Today I had a phone interview with the Dawson reporter for What’s Up Yukon. I guess that’s the kick in the butt to sit down with my laptop this afternooon. It’ll be great to have the publicity in the final days before curtain, so I am thrilled to have had the interview. I always wonder, though, how it will turn out in print. I am always amazed at how what I said gets interpreted – what the reporter pickes out as important, and how I am always surprised. Well, I enjoyed our conversation and so I will hope for a great article! I am a terrible interviewee – I can never organize my thoughts and I always feel like my words & thoughts are disconnected. I admire people who can pick through that and come up with a coherent paragraph.

One thing she asked me was how I’m making Middle Eastern dance and swing music go together. And that’s something I’m still not sure I can answer! Because (in Egyptian dance) the movement is an interpretation of the music, I have tried very hard to respect this aspect of Egptian dance. In Middle Eastern music, the movement interpretes the music, so this is a rule I have followed very closely in choreographing these fusion pieces. It’s probably the reason I’ve been able to make it work. You can’t just wing it. You have to have a method.  You have to have a plan and a reason.

I want to say right up front that this is a fusion show. Some of the dances are traditional straight-ahead Egyptian bellydance that will satisfy the purists. But others are fusion numbers. Call it what it is – I’m a stickler for that! You’re gonna see bellydance by itself. You’re gonna see Big Band by itself. You’re gonna see bellydance and big band together. You’re gonna see fusion and folklore both. Together and seperately.

 In one of the dances I used elements of jazz dance vocabulary mixed with basic bellydance vocabulary and put it to a standard swing tune that a swing-savvy audience will recognize. A bellydancer in the audience will recognize the bellydance movements, but with a jazzy twist and a jazzy non-bellydance attitude. There is even a rockette inspired section! The costume in this piece reflects the fusion of east meets west by combining modern Western bellydance pieces with fun jazzy accessories. In another piece, a latin number, I adapted traditional folkloric assaya steps along with the assaya itself. I combined the bellydancer’s standard figure 8 hip movement with a latin step pattern, but other than that all of the movements are standard assaya movements that you will see in any Egyptian assaya dance. To bring East & West even closer together, I put the dancers in Western jazz dress together with the Egyptian dance prop and a decidedly Western attitude. Personally, I think it it’s going to be a knock-out! In both these numbers I feel confident that I have presented the essense of Egyptian dance within the context of Western swing music. The third & fourth Big Band pieces are solo numbers, one by me and one by Coreen. Mine is 100% bellydance movement with a bit of Alexandrian flavour (all it is missing is the melaya luff) and if you don’t laugh out loud when you hear the music, well, there’s something wrong with you. The costume was chosen to suit the song – and that’s all I’m going to say about it – you’ll have to come out and see for yourself!

In addition to the 4 dances to live music, there are also 2 dances to karioke vocals by Fawn Fritzen. I asked Kelly how he would catagorize them, and he said “schmaltz”. Well, I don’t know about that.  They’re beautiful old pieces with orchestral backgrounds. They’re old torch songs that remind me of first love and hot summer evenings and old black & white movies.

Two pieces are stand-alone band numbers that feature two of our musicians. Another piece captures a party of women from the Arabian Gulf region. Others have interesting elements – traditional folk dances with modern twists on costuming, for example. The rest of the show is standard straight-ahead bellydance. Well – maybe not quite. But that’s all I’m going to say. You’ll have to come out and see for yourself. 

All of the choreographies are coming along with good speed and I am really pleased with the progress we make in each rehearsal. I looked at the calendar today and realize that we only have 3 in-studio rehearsals left, and 2 on-stage reheasals before tech, dress & show.  This is it!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!