Rising Sirens Fire Up The Stage At Rakkasah East

Last weekend, the Rising Sirens returned to the stage at the Ukranian Cultural Center for Rakkasah East 2010!  After rehearsing most of the summer, the Sirens debut a new choreography to Djinn’s “Şaşkin.”   Kaeshi had originally choreographed the dance, and Irina re-worked it for our BAM performance in June.  Kaeshi’s latest version included finger cymbals, and the Sirens clacked their hearts out during the performance.

Costumes

For our “Şaşkin” performance at BAM, the Sirens wore a top from L.Rose Designs, matching copper sash, a gold hip scarf, and pants custom made for us by the talented Diana Susanto.   For the Rakkasah East performance, we opted for the “Caterpillar” costume – an outfit a group of us wore for a dance choreographed by Irina back in June.   A copper-sequined tube top replaced the original L.Rose top, and a medley of gold coins and sequined black material took over for the original copper sash.  A necklace of gold squares, gold earrings and snake arm bands sparkled under the stage’s lightning.  A smokey eye and pale lips finished off the warm and inviting Sirens look.

Showtime!

Bellyqueen was celebrating their 12th Anniversary at this performance and we were excited to share the stage with both Bellyqueen and the new advance beginner student troupe, the Fire Blossoms.  Bellyqueen opened with a new dance about the Taklamakan Desert on the Silk Road.  Dressed in all black, their faces covered, and beige veils cascading across the floor, the Bellyqueen dancers floated on the stage.  The dance was inspired by Elena Lentini and choreographed by Kaeshi.  Our fellow Siren, Ayano, took part in the Bellyqueen performance!

Next up were the Fire Blossoms, performing to Djinn’s “Locked.”  Decked out in cabaret costumes in hues of pink, lavender, and blue, the Fire Blossoms took the stage for the very first time!  Sandralis directed the Blossoms in a challenging choreography, and they rose to the occasion with smiles and an undeniable enthusiasm.  Our fellow Siren, Divira, also performed with the Fire Blossoms.


Kaeshi was up next, performing a solo.  During her performance, Divira ran backstage to change into the “Şaşkin” costume.  Laurel, Mikat, Maria Vaz and I quickly dressed Divira and somehow managed a costume change in less than two minutes!

The Sirens were next.  We walked on stage as Kaeshi finished her solo, and were greeted with a revved-up and enthusiastic audience.   Half of the Sirens were entering stage left; the other half, from stage right.  We met at the center, with a trio of Sirens planted in the middle of the stage and groups of four on each side.  The ladies in the trio then joined the larger groups, and each group circled around one Siren.  The circle became a line as a string of Sirens moved up towards the front of the stage, while the others circled through the back.  The groups again became two lines, and traded moving forward and back on stage.  At one point, the Sirens glided towards the front of the stage in a clump, and as they unwound into two lines, the green curtains closed, creating a rich emerald background to finish the dance.  The dance finished with shimmies, and poses in all directions.  As the audience clapped, the Sirens walked off stage, and the curtains opened, revealing the final Bellyqueen performance.

Post-Rakkasah Celebration
The performance was amazing!  We were ecstatic to have performed once again at Rakkasah and this version of “Şaşkin,” which was arguably one of the most challenging choreographies because of the formations and cymbals.  Not to mention the curtain closing – it was the first time in Rakkasah history that curtains had closed in the middle of a performance!  But it went off without a hitch and we were pumped!

After the performance, many of the Sirens joined Kaeshi at the hotel nearby to celebrate Bellyqueen’s 12th anniversary.  Cake and drinks were exactly what the Sirens needed!

Happy Birthday Bellyqueen

Written by Melissa.

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Treats for the Sirens

This month the Rising Sirens have been hard at work on a new veil choreography with the fabulous instructor, choreographer, and performer Dalia Carella. To celebrate our hard work, I brought in some chocolate coconut macaroons to rehearsal last night. The girls loved them, and we had a chance for a little sweet break before getting back to the choreography.

A few ladies told me my macaroons were dangerously good, but I assured them they’re actually very healthy. As a nutrition blogger and health coach, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My macaroons contain two superfoods: raw chocolate and coconut. Superfoods are some of the healthiest foods on Earth! They are “a class of the most potent, super-concentrated, and nutrient rich foods on the planet…[they] are the optimum choice for improving overall health, boosting the immune system, elevating serotonin production, enhancing sexuality, and cleansing and alkalizing the body.” (Ref: David Wolfe, Superfoods, 2009, p. 3) Cool, huh?

These chocolately treats are also dairy-free and raw. The chocolate gives you a big boost of energy and the nuts and coconut make them a filling snack. Here’s a link to my blog post for the recipe. It only takes 10 minutes to make!

Chocolate Coconutty Macaroons – Laurel on Health Food Blog

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Rising Sirens Open for Natacha Atlas in NYC

On Wednesday, August 4th, some of the Rising Sirens had the honor of performing alongside the company director Kaeshi Chai during Natacha Atlas’ concert at SOB.  This is the first high profile gig for the troupe after BAM, and it was a very special moment for the troupe both on a personal and a professional level.

On top of being an extremely talented and renowned artist, the Belgian/British singer is the voice of the first piece we learned as a troupe (“I put a spell on you”, a.k.a. “the candle piece”) and this made her appearance in NYC very meaningful to all of us.  It was also the reason why Kaeshi decided to ask some Siren dancers to join her performance, bearing in mind that it would be cool for some of us to participate in the experience, even if it was not everyone. Laurel, Jessica, Ritu and Ayano joined her to share their talent on SOB´s stage, and they made the rest of us Sirens really proud!  For this post, I decided to interview Ritu so that she could share in her own words the emotions and challenges of this particular performance.

María: What did it mean for you to be part of such a high profile gig?

Ritu: At first I was shocked and honored!  Immediately afterwards I started feeling a little nervous about being prepared for the show, and also had a bit of imaginary stage fright. Since I missed a key rehearsal, I made plans with the other girls right away to review the choreography one on one, and met with them every night from Sunday through Tuesday night.

M: What did it mean for the troupe in terms of learning to support each other and understanding the dynamics of a professional dance company?

R: First of all, the girls who were performing had to be willing to put in a lot of extra rehearsal time. Secondly, since I was aware that some sirens were a little disappointed not to be part of the show, I felt it was important to maintain a good feeling among us.  Many girls talked it out, which was extremely helpful. Ultimately, as Kaeshi said, because of space restrictions and short notice and synchronization, it just made sense that she had to pick.  I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her either but she did. After all, and even as much as she likes to see us all happy and growing as dancers, she is the director and is responsible of ensuring that the troupe’s mission is fulfilled.

Because we have good communication within the troupe and we genuinely like each other, this initial disappointment faded quickly and many of the sirens openly showed their support on Facebook, through email and by coming to join us from the audience! In the end, we definitely performed with positive energy (which is so important).  Ayano says that she was kind of panicking until she saw Michelle and Atina in the audience: this immediately restored her confidence and her sense of being among friends.  Just like any other time at Je’Bon!  If I had not been selected, I definitely would have also been there showing my support and enjoying the amazing show…  Natacha is ridiculously good!

M: Indeed!  Let´s hear about the show!

R: Since I missed BAM, the venue was the fanciest place I’ve ever performed in, which was awesome!  At first we were afraid of finding glass on the floor since it is a bar/club, but because of its cleanliness we decided to go barefoot. I’m so thankful that there was more than enough space. The ambiance was also very charming; the place allows the audience to enjoy the music in an intimate setting. Also, the club dimmed their lights, so the candles looked amazing!  The other thing we enjoyed about the venue was the great fully mirrored changing area.  Natacha’s band changed there too. They were extremely warm and friendly with us and this, added to Natacha´s personal charisma and the love of her fans, made the place glow with energy.

M: Did you get to hang with Natacha?  What was special about the performance itself?

R: Yes! We were nervous because she’s a huge star, but even though we didn’t have convo’s with her (only Kaeshi did) she was super nice, posed for pictures with and wished us luck.

One of the highlights of the performance was dancing with real candles for the first time! It added a special mystic to the dance, but it was also scary! I styled my hair to be big and curly that night so we were afraid of setting it on fire, haha. We prepared for the show by burning them down to a small size and breaking the wick so the flame was short. We also had the chance to rehearse with them once. The scariest part was the weaving in and out move because I was afraid of setting everyone’s hair on fire!

M: Yes, that would have been an even more unforgettable performance!  What about the costume?

R: We went with the pharaonic costume, but it was a last minute decision.  We changed into black sleek pants afterwards for audience participation dancing.

M: How did you feel dancing with Kaeshi, and what have you learned from this performance?

R: Kaeshi was wonderful and encouraging, as always!  We did our breathing exercise before getting on stage and invited the musicians to join, which was a lot of fun.  All in all, it was really interesting to dance as a troupe before a live band show, and having to go through sound check, deal with equipment and wires everywhere, etc. I’m grateful for this opportunity!

Natacha Atlas in New York City with Kaeshi Chai of Bellyqueen and the Rising Sirens

Written by: Estefania Vaz Ferreira

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A Big Sirens Welcome to Roda

The newest member of Rising Sirens joins us from Washington D.C. with years of dance experience in various genres like Salsa and Tango and a friendly smile. We are happy to expand the troupe to include new talent and new friends!

Read her Bio here.

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Next Performance Date is Set for Rakkasah East 2010

The Rising Sirens will be performing at Rakkasah East 2010. We are very excited for the show and although it is a couple of months away, we have already started to practice and polish our choreography.

What can you expect at our next big stage performance? I can’t give too much away but you can look forward to seeing us in new costumes, maybe dancing with props such as zills and of course new choreographies.

We also welcome some new dancers to Rising Sirens who will be introduced on this blog soon.

For now, please save the date and mark your calendars for Rakkassah East 2010!

When: October 8 – 10
Where: Somerset, New Jersey
Link: http://www.rakkasah.com/east/

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Modern Dance and Bellydance Fusion

A couple of months ago I watched a performance by a beautiful dancer who, in her introductory note, said that she “wanted to show that all emotions can be portrayed through the movement vocabulary of traditional Egyptian belly dance”. She definitely lived up to her claim: her face was relaxed yet expressive, and her body moved flawlessly through the technique as the sound through a well tuned instrument. The costume was shiny and highlighted the womanly curves in her body, but honestly I don’t even remember what color it was… A traditional belly dance costume is what my brain registered.

The question was still lingering in my head as I left: can one style of dance encompass all the possibilities and shades of expressive that we may want to convey? If not, is fusion the answer or, like most traditionalists think, does it undermine and pervade the true nature of the dance forms in question?

This, like many other dichotomies, was interesting to me because it entails not necessarily an absolute truth but a dynamic in any art discipline that is similar to spoken language: the tension between preservation and change, and the evolution that comes as a result.

Preservation of a certain technique is essential: it is what connects us to a specific tradition and allows us to communicate within and relate to a certain culture or ideology. At the same time, both as speakers and as dancers we are constantly pushing our instrument and dance vocabulary or language, to communicate an expressive need that didn´t exist before or to say what was said a hundred times before but in a way so original that it “feels like new”. We need both conservatives and innovators to create a flow of change that is always moving and exploring forward but always aware and respectful of roots.

I reflected that who label themselves purists should seek perfection in the classic forms and those who create “in the margins” should not do it out of ignorance or laziness, but more out of a true desire to gain a richer dance vocabulary or create an exceptionally powerful performance.

The best of this dichotomy is though that it is ultimately false: why not have both, when we can? Why not be a purist when dancing a traditional Egyptian cabaret piece, and burst in waves of subtle emotions like the dancer I saw that day, and have claws in your hands for that extreme character in a fusion belly dance-rock piece?

The Rising Sirens have performed in a strictly pharaonic choreography to the song “I put a spell on you” and are currently preparing for a fusion performance to Şaşkın by Djinn at BAM.

Photo courtesy: Mike Simpson

Contributed by: Maria Vaz

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Sirens Prepare for BAM Performance – Friday, June 18

The Rising Sirens are currently rehearsing for a 10 minute performance at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on Friday, June 18th from 9:15-9:25pm. This free event, the Summer Solstice Hafla, is taking place at the BAM Cafe.

We’ll be performing our candle piece to Natacha Atlas’ “Spell on You” and a second group piece to Djinn’s “Şaşkın.” While Kaeshi is performing with the Bellydance Evolution Show in Morocco for the next few weeks, Irina is taking over our rehearsals to get us in tip-top shape for the BAM performance. She is helping us make eye-catching new formations and clean up our overall technique.

Plus, we’re working on getting a new costume together for the “Şaşkın” piece. We’re using our same bra and belts from “Spell on You,” but we’re getting new black flare pants made and will likely be rockin’ some new accessories. The black and copper costume is bound to be hot!

We’re all so excited to perform at BAM. Every new performance is a great opportunity to grow as dancers and share our love for bellydance with others. We hope to see you there!

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