Lately I’ve been completely speechless and in awe watching the mental workings of so many great dancers in the Atlanta area as well as Toronto, Houston and Miami. It’s the talent, thought process and dedication to an art that can’t seem to win a respectable place on the world’s stage for the painful stories rising out of the east, overshadowing the amazing educating entertainment scene. While the horrors of those suffering should be front and center we as artists and fans hold fast to the idea that the art itself can heal us and keep us going…it acts as a great tool to remind us of who we really are and what the culture can do and is doing…and what we trust it will be known for again. We send our love and support to the effort for peace in the region in many ways and one of them is through keeping the art, music and dance alive abroad so that the world can see part of “the region’s best.”
In Atlanta, that dedication of reminding the world what else the Middle East and Africa is includes oustanding presentations of live music, bands of ex-pats and immigrants’ kids and a yearning to show the culture in the most respectable light. The entire summer saw conferences, festivals and shows featuring some of the best love for Raqs Sharqi, Middle Eastern and African music as well as a showcase of fashion and cuisine. Last night at Pera Dance and Event Studio the ladies of World Bellydance Alliance and Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance took the effort of presenting a positive side of the culture up a few notches…well, let’s just say one will need a ladder to reach the level of enlightenment they bestowed upon the attendees of Juice Box: The Preview.
What I expected was an hour of quick raqs clips one right after the other. Instead we got a small 2 hour seminar with passionate performances. It was like watching a raqs documentary come to life…a 3D version of a live show with interviews. Words will never sum up the “myriad of marvelous” they presented. It was a gift and a treat…and it was free of cost. From the generous spread of food to the numerous lighting changes and gorgeous physiques of all involved it felt like a celebration of culture, of academia and the ability to look at raqs in a way most people never experience. They took us inside their minds in the most intelligent and entertaining way. Those around me were nodding and engaged…staring in awe. We were enraptured. All I could think was…ohmigah, we have to wait til when to see this live? Are you kidding me? I need this tomorrow, that kind of awesomeness can not be teased.
Without giving away the show in advance as we were asked not to video tape or disclose their plans, the night will give you more than just historic dance but a deep understanding of how this art is approached by a variety of people that are exposed to it. You see a dancer who is introduced to raqs and her growth in the dance scene, you meet the expats’ daughter who is able to link her own culture to it; she takes you on a journey and you meet the historian who lives and resides within the culture’s art every single day. Juice Box will change you completely, you won’t see Raqs Sharqi in the way you’ve seen it before and you might not ever call it “bellydance” again…this is something else entirely. This is something beyond the stage, beyond the surface of even the most amazing of performances, this is …the next level!
Coming February 2014
Location: Live performance on an Atlanta stage
Featuring: World Bellydance Alliance, Amani Jabril Middle Eastern and World Dance plus members of Atlanta’s international community and cultured society
Tickets: On sale in December 2013