The Suhaila Dance Company performs this weekend (June 29-30) at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Below is an excerpt written in the Festival program by Patti Trimble about our two pieces.
In this set of Middle Eastern classic oriental dance (Egyptian and Lebanese belly dance), choreographer Suhaila Salimpour revisits two beloved classical Arabic songs with her signature modern approach.
The first song, Khayef Marrah, sings of longing. The dance is the dream of a man who yearns to fall in love. Feminine forms move in and out of focus, because,When love calls, we must obey; but I haven’t heard it calling yet. . .Only if I find the one . . .
The second song, Ana Kol Maoul El Toba, tells of tortured love: How many times did you leave me? Never again will I believe your words! . . . but just meet me once again! The choreography shows western line and flamenco stylization, and the floor work is western contemporary, with big bold movements of exhaustion and fury.
The 2012 choreography for this performance is in Suhaila Salimpor’s distinctive modern belly dance style. It’s based on the western-influenced belly dance born in Egyptian Casinos (1915-1930). The dancers wear classical two-piece bedlah costumes. Suhaila pioneered her style in the 1970s, while studying belly dance, tap, jazz, and ballet. Inspired by modern approaches to dance, and by the athletic basis of break-dance, she looked at the physical aspects of middle eastern dance, analyzing the anatomical and muscular basis of every movement. Her pioneering style is known for its “layering” of traditionally separate aspects of the dance: vibrations, figure eights, and isolation movements.
The performance honors two songs of Egyptian musician Abdel Halim Hafez (1928-77). Hafez is a founder of classical Arabic music, the passionate “voice of the people” whose songs are still played daily in the Arab world. Classic Arab music is known for its complex orchestration that merges traditional style and instrumentation with western phrasing and western instruments such as keyboard and clarinet. Suhaila says, “I want to honor this classical music right now because, since the Egyptian revolution, the recording industry has shut down, and no one knows what will happen. I am drawn to that era, an earlier time of great artistic collaboration.”
Our performance at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival is a small sample of the much larger Enta Omri production that debuts August 3 and 4. We hope you can join us for both events.