Southern CA May
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.
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.
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.