Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I just returned from San Francisco, where I spent the weekend performing with my dance troupe The Dangerous Beauties, for our debut show at The Darkroom Theater.
Our show was sold out, which in itself was fabulous, but for me, the real highlight was meeting my troupe members! If that sounds odd, it is…. But because The Dangerous Beauties are a brand new “virtual “ belly dance troupe, I had only met some of the other company members on-line!
Calling the Beauties “virtual” makes it seem like kind of like some crazy Internet fantasy community, like “Second Life” but in fact, The Dangerous Beauties are very real. It’s just that all the members of this extraordinary experimental dance company live in different cities…and this is a project that never would be possible if not for the Internet!
The brainchild of Surreyya Hada (Pinole, CA) and Nyla Crystal (Sacramento, CA), Dangerous Beauties is a theatrical belly dance company, combining traditional and contemporary belly dance, fusion, fantasy and wild imagination. Sureyya and Nyla wanted to create a free-floating dance company, with performers who are open to experimentation and all of whom have have strong points in many different areas. Oh, and of course, everyone had to be easy to get along with-a must for any troupe, virtual or not!
Our show has a narrative thread running through the performances, tying the entire thing together (the first theme was Femme Fatale) but other than that, every dancer’s creativity was given free reign, and all ideas and concepts were considered and discussed via the internet. For months, we’ve been coordinating ideas, planning our roles, discussing costumes, and organizing dance numbers in an on-line group. It has been a glorious process and we have just discovered- live onstage, that our forward thinking creative gamble actually works!
The other Beauties are scattered across the West Coast, and include Elizabeth Strong, Rose Harden and Terry Del Giorno (all located in San Francisco, CA) Dusty Paik (Oakland, CA) Farasha (Las Vegas, NV) Sabrina (San Diego, CA) and Katherine Summer O’Neal, from Crockett, California. Everyone in the group has vastly different performance dance backgrounds, in varying combinations of the following ATS, Egyptian raqs sharqi, ballet, modern dance, jazz, circus, stage acting , hip hop, folkloric belly dance, vaudeville/burlesque-you name it- and all of these skills are brought to the table, either in their original forms or fused together. There is a fairly wide range of ages, and everyone is at slightly different points in their careers, which instead of being a cause for concern, is a huge asset.
For our first show, we also had guest stars, which included Bay Area dancers Tatseena and Jodi Waseca, live music from Arabic/ Turkish/ Contemporary fusion band Native Brew, erotic novelist Claudia Long, who read from “Josephina’s Sin” in between dance pieces, and even a dancer who did our lights, the incredibly talented Paige Lawrence.
Aside from some obvious historical figures like Salome, Cleopatra, and Mata Hari, some of the other Femme Fatales portrayed onstage in San Francisco included Slavic witch Baba Yaga, legendary for eating children, Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have bathed in the blood of virgins, and “forgotten” American journalist Emily Hahn, whose bold writing about Shanghai in the 1920’s was informed by her intense love of opium.
I literally stepped off a plane and into a crazy-crowded backstage at The Darkroom Theater, which was humming with activity… Dusty fastening on her Baba Yaga horn headdress while Nyla set her John The Baptist head on a brass tray; Jodi wriggling into a tight vintage Chinese cheongsam while trying not to step on Surreyya’s swords, Rose wrapping vintage Assuit around her hips which Paige tried to set everyone’s lighting cues above the din of everyone’s “nice to finally meet you” chatter.
We are planning cross-country mini-tours with shows and workshops, and the line-up for The Beauties will continuously morph and change according to who is available on any given date. Currently, confirmed Beauties show dates and workshops are set for the Floralia Festival in New Mexico on May 5 & 6, 2012, and at Zulu Lounge in Los Angeles on June 29th… but there will be more!
Get Dangerous here: www.dangerousbeautiesbellydance.com
( or click on the "Dangerous Beatuties" live link on the right side of the page )
PHOTOS: Surreyya Hada by Janus Ananaya, Princess Farhana by Zemira, Dusty as Babe Yaga by Princess Farhana