Belly dancing at Fringe World

Satima Flavell

This year, fringe world have included belly dance across the festival as both professional performances and workshops.
Belly dancing at Fringe World

Image: www.fringeworld.com.au.

Perth’s Fringe Festival is noted for its support of emerging artists and art forms, but this is the first time, I think, that it has made a feature of bellydance. It is a timely move, since the ranks of practitioners within the community have burgeoned in recent years. It is a popular form of ‘keep fit’ for many women, and there are also children’s classes, so fresh young talent is constantly popping up. There are, however, few professional performances outside pubs and clubs, and this has, perhaps, prevented wider appreciation of the genre within the general community.

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There were several belly dance events in the Fringe. First, a weekend of workshops, supported by the Fringe, gave Perth dancers an opportunity to take tuition from some of the best in the business. Here I will lay claim to being one of the oldest practitioners of the art in Perth, and one of the first to enrol in the Bellyqueen workshops. I did five workshops with the Bellyqueen quintet and was more than a little impressed by their knowledge, professionalism and teaching skill. They proved themselves even more by rehearsing a troupe of local dancers for just one week, and in that time hammered them into a company as cohesive and talented as one could wish for. Add the very gifted Peemai from Bangkok to the mix and you have a recipe for a truly great show.

Journey along the Silk Road told a simple story: a Chinese princess needs to gather magical ingredients from Turkey, Egypt and India to save the life of her ailing mother. The references to the ethnic dance styles of all four countries were convincingly conveyed, with the help of beautiful costumes and clever lighting and animation. What amazed me was the way the local dancers slotted seamlessly into the visiting ensemble, resulted in a production that could hold its own in any city of the world – but then, the six visiting dancers are used to performing magic. They do it every time they go to a new city. Sydney and Brisbane, watch out!

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Journey along the Silk Road

Bellyqueen

Journey along the Silk Road will be showing at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta on the 6 February 2016.
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Satima Flavell has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop, and has also published poetry and fantasy fiction. Her first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, will be out shortly from Satalyte Publishing.

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