"Dazzling the Mind & Touching the Soul!"TM     Since 1990



Southern CA May 11, 2005
Musee Des Femmes: Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque
Reviewed By Hoyt Hilsman

The Desert Sin Dance Company, under the direction of Djahari Clark and Sa'Elayssa, creates an enticing and eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Hindu, and modern dance forms, techno-ethnic music, puppeteering, and presentational drama. Although there is much here that is familiar, the fusion of styles is fun and entertaining.

The first act is a presented as a carnival sideshow of famous women, presided over by a ringmaster (Brad Miller). The Hindu goddess Kali, performed by Katherine, Nicolette Henry, and Sayaka (many of the ensemble members have single names), is portrayed as the triple goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction. Covered with blue paint and decorative jewelry, the dancers mix belly dancing, Hindu dance forms, and modern technique.

Mata Hari (Tatianna) is depicted as a 1920s-era movie heroine, while The Snow Queen (Cassandra) acts out the Hans Christian Anderson tale in which the cruel Queen must confront the trauma of her childhood. In Red Shoes, based on another Hans Christian Anderson story, Sa'Elayssa delicately and lithely dances the saga of a peasant girl persecuted for wearing her red shoes to church. And Djahari offers a powerful, muscular rendition of the plight of Saint Joan.

The second act is a boisterous, pulsing battle that takes place in ancient Egypt between Apep, a snake-like monster living in perpetual darkness, who each day attempts to kill the Sun God, Ra, and Bast, the cat-headed goddess. The act begins with an energetic ritual of worship choreographed primarily around belly-dancing movements, followed by snake- and cat-dancers interpreting the clash between the two goddesses. This act includes some of the evening's most memorable choreography. The highlight of the act is the appearance of two giant puppets, accomplished mostly in the dark with blue light, and wonderfully performed by puppeteers Jesse Kingsley, Rob Hummel, Jason Hicks, and Steven Franklin.

While directors Djahari and Sa'Elayssa, along with Illusioneer Jeremy Vargus, have not exactly invented a new form here, they have developed an original and energetic mix of styles that makes for a delightful evening.

"Musee Des Femmes: Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque "
Presented by the Desert Sin Dance Company at the Ivar Theatre, 1605 Ivar Ave., Hollywood. Fri.-Sun. 8 p.m. May 6-Jun. 12. $32.50. (866) 468-3399.

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