SeSe Egan hosted a concert of (mostly) solo works by her students at the Pacific Cultural Center on Saturday night. This annual showcase concludes SeSe’s spring choreography class, though it might better be called a master class. Each student (sixteen this year) brings an idea for a solo which they develop in the class. Each week, half of the students come prepared to dance before the class. Her performance is followed by an evaluation by SeSe who comments on features that are of instructional value to the whole class. Their final class is the performance at PCC.
There were seventeen acts with SeSe’s Bellydance Basics Dancers opening the show. With the exception of Sharif, SeSe’s “only son,” they were all women (a typical gender ratio in the bellydance world). All age groups were represented as were a range of bellydance styles from classical to tribal fusion(was that the usually sweet Zurha Malika glaring at us from below those dreds? I was shocked!).
I can’t comment on all of the acts, so here are some comments on a few that stood out for me (in no particular order).
New Girl On The Block award goes to Jillian, SeSe’s “grand daughter” who performed a truly lovely classical bellydance. From her ballet training she brings grace and line to the Egyptian traditional solo dance. I look forward to seeing her again.
The Pink Isis Wings award goes to Caliana for wearing pink Isis wings and punky pink costume. Caliana’s sensitive musicality extended from her heart to the ends of her wings as she skillfully fluttered them through the space. She brought innovation to her work making this one of the cleverest and most enjoyable wing dances I’ve ever seen.
Best Costume Accessory has to go to Geisha Moth’s fingernails: four inches long, painted front and back. She used them as choreographic devices by fanning them out and in reminding me of those kinetic flowers in Avatar.
“Snake farm / It just sounds nasty / Snake farm / pretty much is.” Basima made me laugh with her “Snake Farm” performance—and not just because of the rubber snakes dangling from her costume. I had just proofread an early draft of a novel that features a snake farm in Santa Cruz. I had sent the author a YouTube link to the song (a KPIG favorite) Saturday afternoon and then, Basima shows up bellydancing to it! What’s with the snakes? LOL!
Shahina performed a “character study” in which she crosses the gender gap and dances as a bullfighter. And she totally sold it with her arrogant strutting and her curled upper lip scorning us. This approach is unusual, as bellydance is traditionally abstract and non-literal, but I’d like to see more bellydance characters.
Aruba always generates kindness and generosity when she dances (or even when she’s just standing there). This night, wearing a delicious turquoise cabaret costume, she treated us to a dazzling feathered-fan dance replete with strobe lighting. Her sense of theatricality always hits the mark.
Siwa al Isis. Crone.
Wearing black and silver assiut with a black and white tassel belt, Siwa was escorted onto the stage and helped to sit on a folding chair. Slowly, she lifted the hem of her dress to reveal a bandaged left knee. With a keening motion she massaged it, caressed it, grieved for it. I know where she is taking us from this one gesture: to experience with her the losses a dancer experiences as she ages. When she beat her heart with her hands, I weep with her as I face my own aging body. Siwa concluded her dance standing with a strong and steady shimmy, arms stretching up with supreme wisdom. Even now, remembering Siwa’s performance, I am filled with the power of it.
With bellydance as their foundation, each of these dancers expressed themselves as individuals. From the youthful grace of Jillian to the mature exuberance of Aruba; from the mundane humor of Basima to the profound emotions of Siwa. It seems that anything is expressible in bellydance. To all the other dancers that I haven’t mentioned—Dawarah, Izaz, Leila, Nakisa, M & M (Marie and Miranda), Desma, Sabeen, and Amara: thank you for performing. You all inspire me to want to do more.
Look for SeSe’s fall performance of group dances in which her three companies—Bellydance Basics Dancers, and Troupes Intisar and Tiyanna—perform traditional and novelty pieces.