Monday, December 17, 2007

I wanna be a rockstar....

I've performed at a lot of parties throughout my professional dance career. I've met a lot of people and experienced many different situations. Over the years, I've experience two huge extremes in the types of parties I perform at, and I've labeled them appropriately....the "plague parties" and the "rockstar parties."

A "plague party" is one in which the guests treat me like I have the plague - I spend half of my time trying to pull people up to dance with me, and rather than being willing participants in the show, the guests shriek and recoil in horror and will not budge. That would be bad enough on its own, but another common characteristic of a plague party is the "point at your friend" game that the guests inevitably play. As I make my way around the room, every table will have at least one person pointing at someone else at their table and mouthing "pick him, pick him." So, I will go over to the unsuspecting guest and attempt to dance with them, which will always end with yet another shriek and recoil, at which point I move to the next table and start the process all over.

Plague parties really stink, because I can never get into the groove of the performance. I spend most of the set just traveling around to the guests trying to get them involved, and by the time I realize that absolutely no one wants to get up and dance (despite the fact that half of the guests are still furiously pointing at their friends and trying to get my attention so that I will dance with their friends, and their friends are now hiding under the table to avoid me), it's almost time for me to make my exit. Plague parties can be very trying and boring, and it's so hard to keep your energy up during your performance when the audience gives nothing back.

A "rockstar party", on the other hand, is the complete opposite of a plague party. Rockstar parties are just like they sound - I am a rockstar. Everyone wants to get up and dance with me because, well, who wouldn't want to dance with the rockstar? The audience is so into the show, cheering and clapping and encouraging. No one points at their friend in an attempt to embarrass them because (1) no one thinks it's embarrassing to dance with the bellydancer and (2) everyone wants to dance with me themselves!

Although it may not be noticeable to the guests at either of these parties, I feel like my performance is so much better at a rockstar party, because I feed off the energy of the audience and I am truly enjoying myself while I'm out there. I love rockstar parties - I wish they were all like that!

Monday, December 3, 2007

BDSS - the review!

The Bellydance Superstars returned to NY and performed for a half-empty theater at Westbury Music Fair (now known as Northfork Theater) on Nov. 11. Yes, you heard that right. The place was AT LEAST half empty. And, as the theater is normally a theather in the round, it was already cut in half for this performance, to give the dancers a "backstage." So, technically, they were performing for a theater only 1/4 full....

Why was there such a small crowd there? Surely there are enough bellydancers in the NY area to at least make a decent showing when such a big event comes to town, right? (to their defense, there was a show two days prior in Manhattan, which I did not attend and therefore I don't know how many people were there).

Here's what I think.....

If you've seen the show once, you've seen it enough times to last a lifetime. That is, as long as they keep doing the same old thing. What do I mean by this? I've been to BDSS three times (the only time they came to NY and I didn't go, they were here performing a repeat of Raqs Carnivale) and each time it's the same exact format. Aside from last year's "girls on stilts" fiasco, and other little "tricks" thrown in here and there, the show is always the same. You know when you go to see a BDSS show, you are going to see:

  • Sonia and Isaam performing a drum solo;
  • Isaam doing his "clap to the beat while I spice it up and try to trick you" schtick (it was cute the first time around, but come on now! He even does it in the Folies Bergere dvd, so even if you haven't seen the show live, you know what I mean);
  • Jillina performing a drum solo while Isaam and Rachel Brice drum for her, and the Desert Roses will always come out at the end wearing galabeyas, they will all do some crazy zar movements and Jillina will always end on the floor;
  • Petite Jemila performing a double or quadruple veil routine which consists mainly of a lot of spinning (you know you have seen something too many times when spinning that much with four veils no longer impresses you) and (for the past two years) two of the Desert Roses will come out and do a whirling dervish thing behind her;
  • A not-quite-Polynesian number with Sonia in the lead (at least now they've taken to calling it "bellynesian".....??);
  • A dance that just leaves you going "Huh?" (ie: Adore's gymnastics, Dondi's "Marilyn", a new blonde dancer this year doing ballet, etc);
  • The group drum solo when one dancer attempts to "battle" Isaam with her finger cymbals (sorry, but no one can hold a candle to Ansuya and really shouldn't even try) and then she and three other dancers each take turns performing solo;
  • for the past two years, a reggaeton choreography, obviously choreographed by Jillina, who obviously knows very few "hip hop" steps because it was basically the same dance two years in a row.

It's just, well....boring. It's not that the dancers aren't great dancers - for the most part, they are. And it's not that I don't appreciate the lack of stilts and other in-your-face gimmicks, because I do. I guess I'm just over it?

Everyone I talk to about the show says their first time seeing the BDSS was their favorite. Whether it was last year, two years ago, or this time around. Maybe that's because after the first time, it's all the same?

What do you all think?