Tuesday, 26 July 2011

An afternoon of Egyptian Dance

Last week, Juliana Brustik together with dance troupe Chic Shake Shock presented a Sunday afternoon of Egyptian Dance and fundraiser for the Raqs Sharqi Society

I regularly attended Juliana's workshops for a number of years and was previously a member of her Edinburgh performance group.  Chic Shake Shock I know as a London based dance group that has entertained audiences for 10 years in a variety of arts and community settings.  I have seen this lovely group dance and worked with several of their members at previous Society events and courses, so knew to expect a wonderful afternoon.  Fortunately I had the chance to join them as I was also already down in London, for the Raqs Sharqi Society CPD event for Associate teacher members, which ran the day before. 
Al Malikat
The result was a wonderful informal community showcase, bringing together dancers of all ages to showcase the different types of Egyptian Dance that form the Raqs Sharqi Society style.  Set within the naturally lit space of the back room of the Earl of Chatham pub in South East London, we had cosy respite from the rain beating down outside and a warm crowd of dancers, friends and family across the generations, providing a supportive atmosphere to dance, watch, and be entertained. 

The showcase opened with Juliana's performance group Al Malikat, performing a skillful Baladi choreography with veil to the tune Gozy.  The three young dancers dressed in eye catching block colours moved around the stage with beautiful patterns and shapes and proved a lovely opening to the show. 

Next up, Maggie and Rebecca from Chic Shake Shock in a break from the Society's form, performed a fun Reda style duet.  This was followed by Sara with her first ever solo, performing a gentle classical piece to Raqs El Gamal by Farid El Atrash.
 Continuing the classical theme were duet Maggie and Sue performing a floaty veil duet to Mohammed Abdel Wahab's Nebtedi Menin el Hekaya (When did the Story Start).  Then it was my turn to take to the stage with my crowd pleasing Baladi solo to Alla Warag El Foull (the Petals of Jasmine), which I have performed on a number of previous occasions.  Then dancer Caterina followed this with her performance of a cheeky stick dance. 
Maggie and Sue
Closing the first half were Pauline and Doreen with a mesmerizing Baladi accordion duet followed by drum solo.  This was easily my favourite performance of the day, with two amazing women enjoying dancing together with their own unique blend of musicality, chemistry and comic timing. 
Doreen and Pauline
The second half opened with a soulful solo from Pauline to a qanun piece by Imane Homsy, fusing together classical technique with her training in Hilal Dance.  Then Doreen returned, this time for a veil duet with dance partner Brenda.  By this point in the evening Doreen had also built up the biggest and loudest entourage of family, including her children and grandchildren to cheer her on.  Al Malikat then returned to the stage and performed a Baladi piece and drum solo.  After this was an incredibly poised and delicate classical performance by Carmen to Farid El Atrash's Zeina. 
The penultimate act was a solo from Juliana Brustik.  Dressed in red with Baladi head veil, Juliana's dance was a sensitive and beautiful choreo-improvisation, using all parts of the dance floor, with soft shapes, different levels and poised arms.  This was then fittingly followed by fellow organisers Chic Shake Shock closing the show with a lively Shaabi group piece to Music of the Ghawazee. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this colourful community showcase of Egyptian Dance and especially to see a whole afternoon dedicated to the Raqs Sharqi Society style.  Key choreographic themes for the afternoon were connections between duets and groups, fluidity, and use of floor space, shapes and body direction.  All the performers were also connected through their training, every one having at some point taken lessons with Juliana.  But still, every individual found their own style within this and each stamped their own personalities onto their performances.


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