Tandy, Tito, and Thriller

I’ve hardly been able to keep up with all the events I’ve been attending, so here are a few comments and reviews:

TANDY TAKES ON DEATH

Way back on September 12, I attended Tandy Beal’s and Jon Scoville’s latest contribution to the Santa Cruz theater scene. HereAfterHere: A Self-guided Tour of Eternity was the theatrical finale to a series of related events. The subject—death and dying—was addressed in a multi-cultural symposium on the afterlife, a discussion of Sukie Miller’s book, Afterdeath, at Bookshop Santa Cruz, and a panel of multi-media artists discussing the production. The first night of the concert was a benefit for Hospice of Santa Cruz County. The Beal/Scoville team are inspired by life’s metaphysical mysteries. In HereAfterHere, they use multiple media to explore the range of cultural beliefs about life after death and asks us to consider our own beliefs.

I love that Tandy Beal & Company employs dancers of all ages, body morphology, and training histories. Her dancers are technically skilled and beautifully managed by Tandy’s choreography. Watching Beal—now in her sixties—perform was a special treat. Dressed in white, she floated along the surface like an apparition. Indeed, there were several ghosts floating alongside the audience as we entered as if to say that spirits are all around us, interacting, not interacting, just beside us always. It was a simple device—dancers as haunts—but it left the most lasting impression on me.

While I intellectually appreciate this variety of modern dance, it has never been my forte. (I was a Graham girl, remember, all gutsy and grounded.) I cannot, therefore, say anything profound about this drama of profound content. Please don’t misunderstand me: its just a matter of fit, of kinesthetic empathy. I loved the pure dance sequences, but when dancers talk I get cranky—don’t know why.  Tandy’s work is like poetry…which I can’t relate to either. But if you love poetry, then do go see Tandy Beal!

And by the by, look for Tandy’s upcoming holiday favorite, Mixed Nutz! coming in November. I hear it is fantasmagoric. May go myself.

TITO SEIF: THE LIBERACE OF EGYPT

Egyptian performer, Tito Seif, is simply one of the most famous and most skillful male bellydancer in the world…and he’d be the first one to tell you so. He visited our area in early October teaching a series of classes at Halanda Studio in San Jose. I regretfully missed his classes but I did attend the concert on Saturday night. There were many lovely dancers performing—including the event producer, Hala—but lets talk about Tito.

Known for his acrobatic skills as well as his shimmies, Tito opened with a traditional stick dance—like a cane dance but with a long stick. These weren’t ordinary sticks though, and this was no traditional dance. He manipulated up to four sticks at a time, juggling them while executing bellydance moves. I’ve never seen anything like it…it was thrilling. He also danced on top of a drum, shimmied the drum around the floor while on top, and even came out to the audience and did shimmies from atop the arms of the seats.

In addition to enormous talent, Tito is a consummate performer: handsome and charming, funny and flirtatious. He changed costumes about five times, often appearing, like Liberace, in dazzling spangles and beads. But I like him best when in a simple shift with a belt at the hips, no props, no awesome feats, just dancing. Simply awesome. Tito Seif is deserving of his fame.

THRILL THE WORLD AGAIN!

“Before you believed you couldn’t (dance), you did.”

Thrill the World has become more than a single event performed around the world: it has become a whole season of classes and flash mobs. Local Thrill seekers began learning the choreography in late September. We learned through classes at Motion Pacific and Louden Nelson, through Ines Markeljevic’s videos, and in livingrooms with friends. To make this experience accessible to everyone, a “dance script” is available online in print, audio, and video formats.

Markeljevic created a dance script based on the principle that “if you say it, you can do it.” The choreography is broken down in keywords and sequences. Zombie March, booty bounce, shake-it-and-a-uppa describe specific steps and make a clever link between the word and the step. This technique is surprisingly effective. When my friends and I were waiting for the big event to begin, we rehearsed by reciting the script to each other. When I overheard someone say, “Hey, wuz up?” my brain went right into the wobbly step. Its a powerful method in which our linguistic abilities are bound with our kinesthetic ones.

Saturday, October 23—Thrill Day. It was cold, wet, even rainy. A group of us met at the Red Room (a nearby bar) where we completed make-up, hair, and costume, stayed temporarily dry and warm, and imbibed in our choice of courage. We marched down to the Rittenhouse Building to meet up with the zombie hordes. Okay, there weren’t any hordes because rain will melt some zombies (I just saw that in a movie), but we tried to make up for it in enthusiasm. Though we were reluctant, we reclined dead-like on the wet pavement of Pacific Avenue waiting for our cue. Seemed like forever. And then, as always, the dance was over and it seemed too short. Lucky for us, Quelddy, our Santa Cruz Zombie Director, has lots of other opportunities for us (including a special class with Ines Markeljevic herself!).

Markeljevic’s purpose in organizing this simultaneous, worldwide, public dance event is to bring together the community, support local charities, and encourage us to dream big. Most especially, “We want to remind everyone that before you believed you couldn’t (dance) you did.” Thank you for that.

And thank you to Tandy Beal & Company, Hala, and Quelddy for bringing such a diversity of dance to us.

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