Sunday, October 5, 2008

A peek at last night's Gypsy Groove showcase

We had an unbelievable night last night at the second Gypsy Groove Belly Dance Showcase. The dancers and drummers filled the House of Grind in Foothill Ranch with their wonderful talent, and the crowd couldn't have been more amazing. It was terrific to see so many friendly faces, from the lovely ladies of the O.C. Bellydance Connection Meetup group (Rachel is my hero for all that she's done to bring our Orange County belly dance community closer together), to former belly dance classmates I don't get to see nearly often enough (especially, you, Angelica and Betty!), and of course Diane, whose love for belly dance rivals even her love of horses, and who drove all the way from Long Beach to support our event!

The night started with live Middle Eastern drumming by Ed Lee, Jennifer Laemmer, and my wonderful husband, Austin Cameron.

Linda was our first dancer for the evening, and she performed a lovely Egyptian cabaret piece wearing a stunning tangerine costume. She's a former member of the troupe Rakassah Al Zaman and has studied with some of the best teachers in the area, including Angelika Nemeth, Fahtiem, Jheri St. James and Tina Enheduanna.

Next up, we had Sarah al Nour, who's been studying and performing belly dance for almost a decade and currently teaches at the Anaheim Family YMCA. Her piece drew inspiration from orientale and American Tribal styles, yet Sarah's modern fusion of the two -- along with her own darkly glamorous aesthetic -- made for a very entertaining two-part performance that incorporated recorded music and dancing to live drumming.

After our mid-show break and with the help of the drummers, I demonstrated a beginning combo -- 4 counts pestle, 8 counts vertical figure eights, 4 counts shoulder shimmy with a rocking step back, repeat other side. Easy, easy :-) The ladies and young girls brave enough to try it out on the dance floor looked fabulous and some of them even had their own hipscarves with them. Talk about prepared!

Then it was on to our first-ever troupe performance at Gypsy Groove: a terrific set by Sooz & Azuluna. I couldn't believe these beautiful ladies only started performing together in July. They're a student troupe led by Sooz Hall, who teaches in Santa Ana and Fullerton, and they're dedicated to the pure American Tribal Style format. Just look at these ladies -- they're stunning, and I can't wait to see more from them.

I have to confess that Sooz gave me the biggest surprise of the night, too. She told Diane and me that she recognized us from a performance we did at Market of the Casbah with one of our former tribal troupes, Tribal Fire, and I nearly fell over in shock. Why? That performance was almost seven years ago! Funny how it sorta feels like yesterday, and it sorta feels like a million years ago. She's a doll for her kind words, and she made me want to pull out my old Flying Skirts .

Our final performance for the night was a traditional Egyptian cane dance by Linda, and again she dazzled the audience with her dancing and another amazing costume, this time a purple velvet beledi dress with long and dramatic chiffon sleeves. Wow!

Then our drummers went to work again, and we opened the floor to anyone who wanted dance -- and boy did people want to dance! We had first timers and beginners, pros and seasoned veterans. It was so much fun, I can't wait for the next time :-)

Here's our group photo:

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