Friday, October 16, 2009

Bellydance Superstars at the Hult in Eugene, OR

The main reason I quibble with this show is its place on the Hult's self-underwritten series of cultural offerings. Choosing this as a culture piece was a shot well to the side of the target.

The show is what it is: a rock promoter's attempt to make money off of the belly-dance craze. The costumes are a joy to look at. The music is an interesting mix. The video projection backgrounds are distracting. But, often, the dance was just... flat.

This isn't belly dancing so much as it is dancers performing routines with flavors of bellydance.

This is a group of talented and trained women, no doubt. But the passion of belly dance that I've seen from true professionals (regardless of age) smaller troupes, or even novice dancers, is where the beauty and joy is, and it is not to be found in this show for the most part. These dancers are motivated by choreography; their moves lack the sensual energy of a dancer doing it for the joy of it, and not just to tick off another date on the tour. (Seriously; one women did not smile at all until the final number, and she was all smiles.) Often movements were muddy; I've seen more distinct isolation and crispness from novice dancers. In some way it's no wonder: some of these women have no hips, and have no shape. Thus, it's rather difficult to really move your hips if you're built like a 2x4.

I realized how much of my joy of the dance is in the energy of a variety of woman expressing themselves: young, old, slim, athletic, large.

My favorite were four dancers specializing in tribal fusion. While the slow arm movements and the pop locking did get to be a little much, Zoe Jakes stole the show with her energy and personality. Kami Liddle was my next favorite, in part because she did a fair amount of drumming to boot.

If I had to do it again, however, I would find another troupe. If you're just wanting to entertain the masses, sure, go for it. Or stay home and check out Sadie Marquardt on YouTube.

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