Review – Juice Box 2014

Jenny's solos were outstanding...modern movement at its finest.

Jenny’s solos were outstanding…modern movement at its finest.

There was a lot of work that went into this show. I can’t emphasize that enough. These ladies started this journey back in October 2013 and for the past few months I have watched them turn down opportunities to do many other things in order to make sure this show was “tight” so to speak. In the end, they delivered!

Juice Box 2014 was just what we saw at the rehearsal but turned up a notch or two with each dancer sparkling and shining like the desert sun. The original Juice Box was to feature 3 pieces that meshed with one another demonstrating a journey through dance from 3 perspectives and how they all came together or were related to one another. Upon some challenging changes, the production came together with 2 different acts that were distinct. One being extremely beautiful and modern with hints and touches of sharqi. The second, equally aesthetically pleasing, but celebrating and highlighting solely the art of Middle Eastern dance.

Each member gave 100% or more in every set.

Each member gave 100% or more in every set.

I will not compare or put into competition one act against the other. Looking at them as two separate entities and presentations, I found the first act, let’s call it modern movement, to be full of self expression with elements of jazz and theatre. It felt like something you’d see in New York City with every bit of broadway and “big show” in mind. Jenny and Jendayi truly stood out throughout the sets. I can’t tone down that observation…they truly gave 110%. The entire cast gave 100% but when I think back on the show, Jenny and Jendayi’s contributions come to mind. I was impressed with the supporting elements of other dancers and I hope in the future they’ll let their personalities stand out as big as the numbers themselves. Again, having been at some of the rehearsals and seeing them in the early stages, I know how much they all put into it. As a whole it was very polished and extremely pretty.

Highlights
The use of the voiceover guiding us through the first act was very nice. I wish it had continued through to the second, helping everyone in the audience (not just seasoned professionals and fans of the raqs world) better understand the importance of what they were seeing.

Modern music remained throughout this first half and it worked. Artists such as Prince and Axl Rose were heard and the movements that accompanied it were fantastic. Nothing shy of really polished modern art…

Costuming and quick changes were highlights in this act with Jenny literally, in the blink of an eye, wearing one outfit and miraculously appearing in something else moments later without having broken a sweat. It was crazy and omg, she was absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen her so radiant…just hot as…yeah…she was sizzlin’ like that. She and Scarlett truly segued in and out of the scenes like pros. Very beautiful…

ACT II

This set was directed and choreographed by Amani and what a beautiful presentation it was. The intro was powerful, the transitions were even better than those I’ve seen with Bellydance Superstars (during ‘the roses’ tours). The music selections were top notch and had all of us internationals swaying as if we’d never left our home countries. It was just what I long to see…truly bold and big pieces featuring women who love the art and the culture.

Highlights
Again, the music won the day. Top artists like Issam of Syria, Mazaaj (Brasil wa Egypt/Al Msr) and classic pieces that always get the crowd going (and not just the western crowd but the eastern one as well) were featured. All too often western presentations seem to get comfortable with those same set lists. This was not the case. The second act highlighted what one would hear right now if they were going to a show or gala dinner in most parts of the Middle East. This set list was very current and what a refreshing spin that was to the audience, who clapped and participated through the majority of this show.

imageThe Best Saidi…
The women dressed in thobes from Upper Egypt and wore little mustaches with kufi caps wrapped in the traditional scarves from the region. They seriously looked like men and it was awesome. I could barely stay seated during this set. While it was hilarious to some, it felt like home to me and what an amazing job each person did replicating the male gestures and cultural handshakes accompanied by hugs. There was so much classic raqs, salutes to Reda…I mean, it had it all and I loved it from start to finish. Again, I could barely stay seated!

This set spun into Amani’s solo…and I mean that literally, using a dervish style “tourne” she undressed revealing a very bold bedluh. She brought it home with another awesome song filled with colloquial phrases and more pleased I could not be…adored this!

Best use of a veil...dynamicc and with a theme...

Best use of a veil…dynamicc and with a theme…

After a second musical interlude Amani appeared again wearing one of my favourite dresses. In this outstanding garment, she did a veil fusion that had all sorts of flamenco elements. I can’t even begin to put into words how gorgeous this set was…it was just stunning…absolutely stunning! I’ve always found her talented and attractive but at this moment she proved to us that she is completely irresistible.

That set rather wrapped up the night because the dancers of her act came back out for one more modern raqs number and then the crowd cheered them on through to the finish.

Juice Box 2014 was certainly a glassful…it had a lot of strong elements that I feel with time can be pulled together, making it flow continuously versus a series of stellar stops and starts. Each act stood out on its own and both were beautiful, putting dancers that we normally see in one genre into a whole other realm of the culture. This could really turn into something that is hard to compete with on the national circuit. I can only imagine what Juice Box will become with time.

Great intro and great ending!

Great intro and great ending!

Standing ovation for the whole cast, the directors and the wonderful staff of the Art Place who went out of their way to create a very special evening…I am eager to see more of what this team has in store.

Thanks for reading. As always these reviews are solely my opinion and not that of any other group/org, etc.
*Full review available for Raqs Atlanta members (Yahoo! Arab Group)

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