The Life of a Ladybug

live with intention. walk to the edge. listen hard. practice wellness. play with abandon. laugh. choose with no regret. continue to learn. appreciate your friends. do what you love. live as if this is all there is. -mary anne radmacher

Friday, March 03, 2006

Finally ... my thoughts on "Bellydance Superstars: Raqs Carnivale"!

Here are my thoughts, YMMV: Bellydance Superstars: Raqs Carnivale – My Thoughts Makeda Maysá (Toya Smith Marshall) I attended the Wednesday night, 3/1, performance of the Bellydance Superstars’ Raqs Carnivale in Alexandria, VA. The performance was held at the Birchmere, which turned out to be some weird conglomeration of blues club, gift shop, dance club and restaurant. When Kim and I drove up (Kim is my best friend and an enjoyer of bellydance), we both wondered where the heck we were. I’d never seen anything that looked like the Birchmere before and my first thought was, “The poor girls – they’re doing the chitlin circuit!” If you don’t know what the “chitlin circuit” is, let me educate you: The Chitlin Circuit was a “loose network of jook joints, nightclubs, dance halls, bars, theatres and restaurants that flourished during the pre-Civil Rights era … it was absolutely critical for the economic survival of Black artists who had not crossed-over to mainstream audiences … the bulk of those spaces were greasy, overheated, badly ventilated, badly protected, and overcrowded spaces that for all intents and purposes kept most … to a second-tier status within the entertainment industry …”.(Source: It was immediately clear that being a Bellydance Superstar isn’t nearly as glamorous as some may think. I was a little disappointed in the venue, to be honest – I think there are plenty of more appropriate places in the Baltimore/Washington area, such as auditoriums and small theaters. However, there’s something to be said for intimacy, I guess. I was further irked by the venue because, once we entered, we were informed that no cameras were allowed. What??? Part of the fun of going to see the Bellydance Superstars was the knowledge that I planned to take a ridiculous amount of pictures with the dancers. Man – that sucked! However, it was nice that the place offered food and that the food was actually yummy, except for the honey mustard sauce that came with my chicken tenders. I immediately noticed that it was quite light for honey mustard and then I tasted it … butter. It was melted butter with a slight hint of mustard flavoring. Gak! After we ordered our food, Kim and I slid over to the gift shop to see the pickins. I found them to be pretty slim – some hip scarves (I don’t need another hip scarf), the BDSS and BDSS-related DVDs (I did pick up the new Solos in Monte Carlo DVD) and CDs (I got Bellydance Superstars, Vol. 3), a nice calendar, some fun posters, and the program. I purchased the program. I thought the products were pretty reasonably priced. Act I Ancient Ruins (Ensemble), Choreography: Jillina I thought the ensemble did an awesome job – the entire cast (13 women, I think) danced on a very small stage. The choreography was nice, but it was weird seeing the tribal girls “doing Jillina.” Bozenka solo The beginning of this piece was done with Isis Wings. I was really impressed and, for a quick second, I thought of learning how to dance with wings myself. Then I remembered … I’m not a good spinner, therefore, that’s not the best idea. I quote Na’lani Dahlal, “Bozenka has a mean shimmy.” Tribal (Sharon Kihara, Zoe Jakes, Moria, Kami Liddle) The tribal girls (headed by Sharon Kihara and including Zoe Jakes, Moria and Kami Liddle) are so freakin’ gorgeous that it’s beyond belief, basically. I was happy that they zilled through the entire dance. Art of the Drum Solo (Sonia and Issam) Let it be known that I think that Sonia is certainly a graceful dancer, however, she bores me to tears. She’s way too “serene” for me or something. And the Art of the Drum Solo presentation they did is exactly the same one they did in the “Bellydance Superstars Live at the Folies Bergere”, so I’ve already seen it. Not to mention, Sonia and Issam don’t have nearly the amount of playful energy and chemistry that he has with Jillina. It’s clear to me that this section of the show is designed simply to advertise the DVD of the same name. Oriental Dreams (Sonia, Jillina, Bozenka, Stevie, Colleen, Jayna, Petite Jamilla, and Georgianne) For some reason, the choreography felt slightly Celtic to me. But that could just be because they were all wearing bright green. Ya Raitone (Jillina, Sonia, Bozenka) Bellydance to reggaeton music? Does that count as bellydancehall or what? The choreography was cute, but Jillina doing a faux hip-hop/bellydance fusion piece? Weird. Na’lani did mention that Jillina supposedly has a background in hip-hop dance, but there’s hip-hop and there’s hip-hop and I’ll just leave it at that. Behind the Veil (Petite Jamilla with Stevie, Colleen, and Jayna) That girl is a spinner like nobody’s business! She danced with 4 veils (!) and the subsequent movement and their blue and green colors made them look like water as they swirled around her. She’s a great talent and should be one of the Superstars and not one of the Desert Roses. The music was the same that Piper uses for her Faux Pharaonics choreography. Jillina She threw a few flamenco moves in there. Dare I say it was “boring”? Tribal Baila/Baila Belly (Ensemble) The tribal girls costumes were so “Moulin Rouge” – loved them! I liked the performance, but didn’t understand it in a bellydance show. The Baila Belly portion was awful, IMO. The salsa was very “cleaned up”, even moreso than ballroom. And there was no passion or fire in any of them. The Desert Roses were not good at all in this number. Kami Liddle Awesome! HOT! I will be jocking her make-up. Party Drum (Ensemble) Petite Jamila stood in for Ansuya on zills. She’s a lovely dancer, but no match for Ansuya’s zilling. I had never seen or heard of Stevie before this show, but I was impressed! Zoe just has to walk out on stage and I’m blown away. Act II Yella Saidii A really cute cane dance and the most beautiful beledi dresses. Adoré Beautiful, fluid dancer, but I’m not a fan of the belly gymnastics. I’d rather she just dance. Creature Comfort (Tribal Contingent) I could instantly tell that Rachel Brice choreographed that piece – there is a snaky quality to everything she does that isn’t as present in Sharon Kihara’s choreographies (though I like Sharon’s equally well – they’re just different). I loved this choreography. Escape to the Pacific (Sonia, Stevie, Colleen, Petite Jamilla, Jayna, and Georgianne) I think the piece was pretty and this style of dance really suits Sonia, but I was bored by it. Dancing Drum (Jillina and Issam, with Petite Jamilla, Jayna, Colleen and Georgianne) I love watching the interaction between Jillina and Issam. Jillina is a fun and engaging dancer – I laughed out loud several times. Sharon Kihara I love to watch her dance. Very hip-hop/breakdance in her movements, which I appreciate. And she wore a metal bra – hotness! Raqs Carnivale (Ensemble) Nice ending – loved that the tribal girls were wearing the white costumes. Anyway, my general reaction is that the show was good, but not awesome. There were several pieces that could have been cut out, in my opinion. But it was wonderful to see so many great dancers and to see such a “production.” I had a really good time and think it was worth the price of admission and, should they come to the area again, I’ll definitely see it again, to see if any improvements have been made.


At March 03, 2006 12:23 PM, Anonymous Mel said...

We can always count on you for complete honesty. And I quote, “The poor girls – they’re doing the chitlin circuit!” Too funny!

You describe things in such vivid detail that I can almost imagine being there! I can't wait for your commentary on the Oscars!!!

At March 03, 2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Amy said...

I know what you mean about the location. I wonder why they didn't perform at the Recher Theater (in Towson) again? It was PACKED when Nora and I saw them there. Of course, BDSS doesn't bother to do any kind of promotional work, so that could be dooming them to 3rd and 4th rate venues.


Post a Comment

<< Home