testimonialsComments& Reviews on Performances
Just one word to describe the whole show – FABULOUS! Lurainya’s REALM choreography superceded anything I had imagined! I can’t wait for the next show! Shaily Dadiala
I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all that you do for us. I have a wonderful time taking your classes, and participating in the show. You are an inspiration to many, many women; myself included.” Cindy Long
“Having danced for many companies and choreographers at UArts and beyond, working with Lurainya has been liberating in that she does not come from the formal ballet and modern schools. She creates her movements in an organic place. They are honest responses to story and the music without the restraint of engrained expectations of what dance should be. I find that when I am learning her choreography there are hints of dance styles I have studied (West African/Salsa/Capoeira/Hip Hop), but instead of each movement having a specific name, Lurainya describes them through emotion, intent and shape. It is refreshing to leave the long traditions and histories in the classroom and rehearse a dance in the here and now.”
Heather McGeehan, University of the Arts; Philadanco II, Vivid Motion, Konservatoriet Dance Ensemble, Onda Latina, Samba Nosso, UArts African Ensemble, Performance Dance Theater.
“Your message is clear and beautiful. I wish more girls/women lived with flare in a powerful and feminine way. You show them that it’s okay.” Chuck Eckenroth, photographer
“Lurainya’s show is amazing, her innovative choreography coupled with her uncanny ability to direct & produce is something I have never seen in an artist before, truly amazing!” ~ Elijiah Gray, CFO, MileStone Bank
“Lurainya’s REALM Preview Performance was humbling and almost spiritual. It lifted me out of my seat. I was very, very moved and I can’t wait to see REALM in its entirety.” ~ Paul Gold, Film Director / Writer
“Lurainya, your performance was amazing! Such isolation and grace. Your arms were so fluid it was if they were completely detached. Simply beautiful and mesmerizing.” ~David Fore, photographer
“Seeing Lurainya dance brought tears to my eyes – she’s so graceful and moves so beautifully. And what’s even more amazing is that her talent exceeds beyond her performing. The fact that she puts the entire show together herself (producing, directing, choreographing, and performing) is just mind boggling! She is absolutely fantastic.” ~Margie, from Virginia
“I thoroughly enjoyed Lurainya’s WDX! And what a great turn out, hundreds of people were there! It was interesting to see so many dance styles represented, very entertaining from start to finish!” ~Stella Pappas
“Lurainya is the best dancer I’ve ever seen. Watching her dance is like getting drunk without drinking.” ~ Neelam, owner, Shop of India
“Awesome show! The venue was wonderful! The Troupe really enjoys seeing all of the wonderful talents and getting to know all of the performers Thank you for inviting us back! We enjoy being a part of it all. Congratulations on another successful WDX!” ~ Stephanie Ross, Aloha Style Dance Troupe
“The show was amazing!!” ~ Jessica Kassargian
“I went to Lurainya’s show expecting to be entertained, but was not expecting to see Broadway level talent! My Sunday afternoon turned into an evening out. I can’t wait to see what her next show brings.” ~ Dorian Cubero
“Lurainya – the show was fantastic! Bravo bella! The music and the dancing were fantastic. I can’t wait to see the full debut of REALM! You have a magic touch. Thank you!” ~ Gina Furia Rubel, Furia Rubel Communications
“Congratulations on an awesome show! All the acts were flawless!” ~ U.F. of New Britain
“Bravo Lurainya, Your show was amazing!!!!!!” ~ Dee Gallagher
“Lurainya, your talent is amazing and the gift you have for sharing it with others is truly an honor for all who get to see it!!” ~ Jamela
The preview performance for REALM was breath-taking, I felt chills through the dance and was moved to tears. Lurainya’s choreography, choice of music and costumes were incredibly powerful. The world needs to experience Lurainya’s Realm! Cynthia Rees
“We had such a great time! When you came out in THE OUTFIT with THE HAIR, oh wow! We were just blown away, with both your solo piece and the ensemble piece!!! …keep going girl, you could be your own Cirque du Soleil, I can really see it!” ~ Caroline, artist
“I had such a great time doing the show, and all of your hard work really paid off. You are so talented and it certainly shows in what you do. My husband couldn’t believe how exactly on time and on step all the students were. Your choreographies were wonderful!” ~ Janice Haber
“This was hands down the BEST time I’ve ever had on stage, and I’ve been dancing for 25 years! Even my parents made the comment that they’ve never seen me look so happy. So I send a big thank you for making me love to perform again! It felt like home being back on stage.” ~ Sue Devenny
“Last night’s event was such a joyous occasion. I now understand your vision. You are such a talented dancer in your own right. Your solo was breathtaking. But what makes you so special and takes you beyond the ‘talented dancer’ is your choreographic abilities. Being able to showcase the best of student skills and body types is a rare and wonderful gift. For me to see women who were awkward, insecure, shy individuals blossom into these beautiful, graceful dancers was a real thrill. You have proven that what is touted in today’s culture as ‘feminine beauty’ and that every woman can be proud of who she is and move in beauty and grace. As a member of the audience, I thank you for a wonderful evening.” ~ Petrona Charles
It is incredible how much better the show is year after year! This year was absolutely awesome! The REALM number was inspiring and creative and awesome! Lurainya’s talents are endless! Lydia “Jamela” Navarro-Walker
“The show was fabulous…CONGRATS!” ~Tina Margot
“Wanted to thank you for letting me be part of your show, you really did a great job, I’m proud to have you as my dance teacher!” ~ Jessica Tona
“The show ROCKED!! Loved the finale, I just can’t say enough about it. I waited all year for it and it was well worth the wait. Thank you for being such an awesome, understanding, and loving teacher!” ~ Ruthie Hanson
“Lurainya, everyone loved the show. My friends and family thought it was even better than last year. Roberta said your bellydance number was fantastic, and she loved the REALM finale! Thanks for making it all possible. You are an awesome teacher!”
~ Lisa Menz
“Your student numbers are as good as the professional numbers! Congrats to you on another FABULOUS show.” ~ Barb Chiesa LaSalle
“Had a blast at WDX yesterday! All the performances were amazing! Great job and I’m looking forward to the DVD!” ~ Jeannine McKnight
“Fantastic! By far the best work by Lurainya to date. She just keeps getting better and better. I’m excited to see what she will do next. Lurainya is a performer/choreographer of the highest caliber. Bravo!” ~ Eric Soro
“Had such a great time at WDX!! Thanks so much for the opportunity, I truly LOVED it, and am hearing RAVES about your performance!” ~ Pam Masciotro
“What a production! Loved every bit of it – Lurainya is quite a pro!” ~ Andrea Armstrong
“You did an awesome job! The show was great!!!! Your strength is stage choreography! Well done!” ~ Lana
“It was a fantastic show. I am super impressed!” ~ Suzanna Fabry
“I don’t know where to begin about Saturday evening ! It was an AWESOME show! I was so impressed with the care you took in organizing the whole event. I loved your solo in the White outfit! As a dancer myself I could see there was so much control in the muscles of your upper arms – it was great to watch you live. By now you know how much I loved the finale! I haven’t stopped gushing about it since Saturday (continued in my Sunday dance class too). It made me so proud to see how you switched from Belly dancing, something so feminine, to Modern which is so much more masculine. Amazing! Thank you for having me perform in the show, I got an excellent reception from the audience for my Bharata Natyam solo.” ~ Shaily Dadiala
“The show was just beautiful and was a wonderful mix of dance. My family really enjoyed themselves and I was so happy to be a part of all the fun. Thank you for teaching us another beautiful dance and for all your patience and time that you gave to us. Your show was a wonderful expression of yourself and a lovely way to share world dance with so many others. Thank you for sharing your love of dance with all of us dancers and with your whole audience.” ~ Terri M.
“I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the show on Saturday night. It was very entertaining and both my husband and I enjoyed it. We are both of Middle Eastern heritage (Armenian) and he played the doumbek (drum) in a Middle Eastern band for many years. He played at the Middle East restaurant in Philadelphia and knew many professional belly dancers. He very much enjoyed the music and dancing at your show. I was so impressed with the “student” dancers, as well. I admire their courage to be on the stage and have such a good time sharing their new talent! I look forward to classes.” ~ Chris Arslanian
“I was at the show on Saturday night and I had a blast! The show was great, I loved the location, and the dances, and everything. You did a great job! And wow, finale of the REALM preview was so powerful; the choreography (and everyone’s technique) was out of this world! If that’s a taste of what’s to come, I am going to be the first one at the first show!” ~ Fatima
“Lurainya, you’ve come a long way and your shows keep getting better and more impressive! I love the diversity of the dances that are now included, and my son especially loved the Fire Dancer and Omar. Congratulations for putting on a true extravaganza of dancing! Also, your student performers really did themselves and you proud. Having been in the student performances myself a few years back, I was truly, truly impressed with your students!” ~ Robin Link
“Your finale was PHENOMENAL!!! I was practically brought to tears! You are such an AWESOME natural at this!!! It was a great experience performing in the show, and as always you looked MAH-VALOUS! Thank you for inviting me. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” ~ Mira
“Thanks so much for having us in the show!!! I really enjoyed being there and seeing all the dancers. Please pass on to all your students how impressed I was with all of them. Each of the student performances were great, and they should all be proud of themselves! I also really enjoyed the finale! It was really fantastic – powerful, exciting, moving; a visual feast of dance and movement!! Great job!! I can’t wait to see the whole thing in 2008!” ~ Jessica Staley, Hipnosis
“The show ROCKED!! Loved the finale, I just can’t say enough about it. I waited all year for it and it was well worth the wait. Thank you for being such an awesome, understanding, and loving teacher!” ~ Ruthie Hanson
“I feel so inspired by your show – it was amazing! Everyone I spoke to was impressed by the level of talent and professional atmosphere there that night. It seems like you’ve been doing this forever, you’re well on your way to stardom!” ~ Cynthia Rees
Your choreography and song choices were outstanding! The entire audience was engaged by the energy of the show. Congratulations on a job very well done! Barbara Chiesa-LaSalle
“The show this year was absolutely incredible! It gets better every year – the location was optimal and classy. The words “THANK YOU” do not seem adequate enough, but they are the only ones to leave you with for the depth of your commitment to belly-dancing, and the passion you have for helping women become more confident by providing a venue for self-expression and self-discovery. The “Goddess” in you is alive and real and becoming more and more real in your students… BRAVO!!” ~ Lydia “Jamela” Navarro-Walker
“I just wanted to tell you again how wonderful Saturday evening was! We had such a great time! The show was so entertaining, and so beautiful. You put so much work into it and it showed. You are awesome as a dancer, and as a teacher! It is so obvious how much you care about your students. I’m looking forward to signing up for class again.” ~ Sue Volpe
Saturday’s show was awesome! All of your students did great, and the pro half of the show was fab. I really enjoyed watching everyone, especially your finale… I want to be a glamazon too!” ~ Vikki Williams, Hipnosis
I had the same kind of fun and satisfaction from performing at your show this year as I did last year. All my troupe members enjoyed the experience very much too. On behalf on Usiloquy, a BIG thanks ! Hope to see REALM take to the stage soon!” ~ Shaily
“I wanted to thank you so much for having me be a part of your show. I had a great time. Your event was so professionally run, I can only imagine how much work you do for it. The latest preview of REALM was explosive! You are such a font of creativity!” ~ Fatima Bassmah
“I have admired you from the moment I met you, and when I first saw you dance you blew my mind with your beauty and grace. Just when I think I have you figured out, you totally knock me back. Your choreography for all the performers was absolutely outstanding, and witty. But then when you came out for your solo, all in white with your face covered, you took my breath away. That dance was one of the most hypnotic, beautiful, and graceful things I have ever had the pleasure of seeing you do. I will NEVER forget that dance. I only hope that my daughter can learn from you and let some of her inhibitions go, and let more of her creative side start to flow like you. I don’t know if that can be taught, but if it can, I know you’re the one that can teach her! Then the finale, well …all I can say is “WE WANT MORE!!!!!!!” You left us in awe! Your creativeness is endless, I feel so blessed to have met you and that you are in our lives. YOU TOTALLY ROCK BABE!!! And like I said before “WE WANT MORE!!!!!!!” We love you and you are our gift and inspiration. ~ Ruth Hanson
“The show was wonderful. I really enjoyed seeing so many styles of dance, performed so well, all in one event.” ~ Colleen Leung
“Congratulations on a fantastic show! I loved the finale of the REALM Preview. Can’t wait to see the full production!! ~ Christina Kononenko
“The show was WONDERFUL, Lurainya. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again this year, your student showcase choreographies, music, etc. are definitely some of the best in the whole show! The opening number was SPECTACULAR as was the finale! Totally loved them both!” ~ Barb
“You were so wonderful performing at Casablanca last night. Thank you for such a great experience as well as for the opportunity to study and learn from you. I feel so fortunate to have lucked out to find you as a teacher! You just cannot imagine how thrilled I am to be a part of this. I cannot wait for class to begin!” ~ Yaas, student
“I just want to thank you for including me in your show, I had a great time! I love how you run the show, very professional. The stage was great and easy to dance on. Your students are wonderful and your last performance was out of this world! I loved it! I can’t wait to see the DVD!” ~ Leisha
“The show was FABULOUS! We were very impressed. You were so calm (at least you seemed it). I can’t imagine performing in a show & being the manager of it!” ~ Elijah
“Thank you for such a wonderful show night last night. It was truly a great experience I will never forget. You did a spectacular job not only putting together such a beautiful event, but ALL of your choreographies were spectacular. I cannot wait for the DVD! Thank you again for this experience. And working with all those women was heartwarming. What a joy!” ~ Lois Luzi
“I just wanted to say thank you again for all of your hard work in making it possible for us to show off what we’ve learned. You truly are a beautiful person and a fantastic teacher. I have learned so much from you in just a little over a year – it still amazes me what I’m able to do now – things I never thought I could do!!!! Anyway, everything was beautiful.” ~ Jenifer Prince
“I LOVED the costumes! They were stylish and impressive! The moves were awesome!!” ~ Catherine LaSalle
“I’m very much looking forward to doing your show again. It’s the most organized and quality show I’ve been invited to be a part of.” ~ Drum and Dance Learning Center
“I think it gets better each year; Lurainya, you get better each year!!” ~ Karen Fody-Sheaffer
“Professional, breath-taking, and altogether masterful!” ~ Ken Koerber
“Excellent show!” ~ Michael Cheung
“I was impressed! All of the performers did a wonderful job!” ~ BJ
“WOW!!!” ~ Barbara Henriksen
“Amazing, AWESOME!!!” ~ Varileios and Alleana Christogianni
“Wonderfully structured and executed. Exellent job, especially the REALM finale!” ~ Rob Heller
“WOW!” ~ Maria Kepplinger
“F-ING AWESOME!!” ~ Alexia
“It was wonderful to see all that talent. Can’t say enough about the show! Keep it going!” ~ Pat Darges
“Lurainya’s REALM finale was mesmerizing!” ~ Lisa Menz
Comments from Student Showcase Performers
“Last May, a friend approached and asked me if I would be interested in taking a bellydancing class with her. I thought, sure, why not, it will be fun! I had retired from professional dancing 5 years ago, with no intention to go back, ever. I was burnt out and my body was destroyed, so was my spirit. But I still went to those classes with Lurainya every week. There was no criticism, no telling anyone we weren’t good. Nothing but positive feedback all the time! It was so odd for me coming from the background that I was used to, because nothing we ever did was right, or good enough. Slowly, dance had become fun again & I remembered why I loved it so much, and really, how much I needed to do it. It’s like breathing to me. I really thought that part of my life was over, and then, Lurainya wanted to put on a show… I said no at first for whatever reason, but with an amazing email (that I have framed) and some encouragement, I couldn’t imagine not being part of her show. Lurainya also asked me to be part of the finale – which was an amazing honor. The whole show experience was a blast. She had every little detail ironed out, which was amazing. Not to mention all of the routines to choreograph, I know how overwhelming that process is. I just looked at her in awe. She never complained. Everyone who sat in that audience was amazed by the show, and all that she accomplished. I heard nothing but positive feedback. My family said that I never looked happier performing, truth be told, I don’t think I ever was. So, to my teacher, mentor & friend, thank you for the wonderful experiences. Thank you for helping me fall in love with dance again. You are an inspiration to us all, and I’m lucky & blessed to have you in my life.” ~ Sue
“I have always wanted to take belly dance lessons and I was walking out of the gym and grabbed a magazine and Lurainya was on the cover. I called her as soon as I got home and she answered. Turned out she had an opening for that upcoming session which started that Wednesday. So I asked a girlfriend if she would go with me. Now it’s a whole year later and I am still taking class and I love it. Lurainya is a phenomenal dancer, she is absolutely mesmerizing to watch! We are so fortunate to have her as our instructor! As for her show, I never would have imagined that I’d ever perform on stage in front of 250 people, but I am so glad that I did! It was truly a fantastic experience. I can not wait until next year’s show!” ~ Lorraine “Neveah” Vollrath
“I can’t wait for the next performance. It was so much fun learning the beautiful routine that Lurainya put together for us. I never danced on stage before but performing in her show was a wonderfully positive and unforgettable experience! It was a great confidence builder and practice for the show really helped get back in shape. A thousand thank yous to Lurainyafor all her hardwork and thoughtfulness.” ~ Lisa Menz
“When I started taking bellydance, I never really thought about performing at all. I thought it would take me years to be good enough to actually show anyone what I had learned and I was really only taking the classes for the pure enjoyment of learning this beautiful dance. But, Lurainya promised us she’d make sure we were ready to perform, and she kept that promise. We all put in many hours of practice and preparation together and on our own. It was a great experience. Not only did we get our moment to shine, literally, dressed in full bellydance costume, but we also formed a bond with each other that is beyond words. There we were, 5 women who barely knew each other doing something we all thought we’d never be able to do and sharing this simultaneously frightening and exhilarating experience together with Lurainya cheering us on the whole time. It was quite a rush – we were bellydance stars for a little over 4 minutes, but we will be connected to each other through our memories of the experience for a lifetime. I’m so glad I decided to take part in the recital, and I will definitely be doing it again next year!” ~ Jenifer L. Prince
“I initially dismissed participating in the recital, but I am so glad that I took that leap of faith. It was one of the most invigorating things I’ve done in years! I had so much fun, not just on stage, but also preparing for it. I learned a great routine, increased my skill, and totally built up my confidence. Stepping out of my comfort zone had a huge pay off, and I loved every minute of it!” ~ Lorna Knaub
“Performing in April’s recital was a chance to conquer my fear of performing in front of an audience. I had not performed in front of an audience since childhood. It was a great experience working up to the recital. The rehearsals gave an opportunity for me to meet and interact with the other dancers from Lurainya’s other classes. It was a wonderful opportunity to bond with the other dancers. It was so much fun dressing up in costume and makeup. It was stressful and hard work, yes, but it was worth it. Yes, I would do it again.” ~ Leilani
“Performing in Lurainya’s Bellydance Recital is an exhilarating and fabulous experience! I am so glad that I decided to perform in spite of feeling nervous and anxious about doing so. Although I thoroughly enjoy Lurainya’s classes, it is very exciting and gratifying to combine moves into an actual dance. Lurainya’s choreography is marvelous, and you develop a lovely rapport with your fellow dancers during rehearsals. Wearing performance costumes and make-up is also really fun, and demonstrating your skills to your family and friends leaves you with a great sense of accomplishment! I highly recommend it to everyone!” ~ Barbara Chiesa LaSalle
Reviews from WDX
April 28th, 2007 Warminster, Pa.
By: Jamela, Philadelphia, Pa.
“WOW!” That’s what was going through my head on April 28th, 2007. I have seen many Bellydance shows over the 9 years that I’ve been dancing, and I can tell you that Lurainya’s show was one of the best! Her organization was impressive, her attention to detail was impeccable, and her creativity amazed me. If this was just a “glimpse” into the world of Bellydance Fusion as Lurainya envisions it, then I can’t wait to see what she does next! Overall, this was a night of wonderful entertainment. This was so much more than a “student recital” or “hafla” — it was a Production!
The show was held at the Warminster Recreation Center and its theatre-like set up proved to be the perfect venue for the launch/preview of Lurainya’s dance-theatre production: REALM. Doors opened at 6pm, and by 5:45pm there was a long line all the way down the sidewalk! The show was sold out, with 250 people in attendance. The mystical mood was set as soon as one entered the room: Lighting along the walls/entryways; a spacious and raised stage with dramatic lighting and a great sound system; ten vendors displaying a wonderful array of products; two large tables offering different styles of delicious food, desserts and beverages; plus a raffle table where for $1 you could win prizes ranging in value from $60 to $140! Adding to the excitement were four cameras documenting the event, including a behind the scenes camera, which I can’t wait to see. The volunteers on staff that night were well informed of their responsibilities, carrying through with proficiency and adding to the professional quality of the event.
The show was divided into three parts as follows:
- Part One of the evening consisted of student performances – which did not disappoint! They were fantastic – and a true testament to Lurainya’s teaching abilities! Especially when you find out that many had been dancing for less than 16weeks, and there they were, on stage in front of hundreds of people – dancing well! Others had been with Lurainya for 1-3 years, exuding control and confidence.I was very impressed with Lurainya’s choreographies – not only was she able to choreograph for so many different styles and experience levels, but each was very creative and entertaining to watch!The two beginner groups were jam-packed with Bellydance moves; one using flowing veils, the other an exciting drum solo which incorporated a “dance off” like no other! There was an adorable intermediate Sharqi duet to Amr Diab’s “Mrkafesh”, and a wonderfully artistic sword duet to U2’s “Mysterious Ways”. The three advanced solos also varied in style – one using veil, another zills, and another dancing to “Back in Black” from AC/DC. They portrayed a mastery of movement that not all members of the bellydance community have yet to achieve. It’s obvious that Lurainya expects a lot from her students who choose to perform, but it’s also obvious that she makes sure they have the tools to deliver.Lurainya’s solo concluded the student portion of the show. Dripping in white cabaret costuming, she made her entrance with a mysterious taxim, peering out from under her veil, which was wrapped in such a unique way that I couldn’t tell where it began or ended! Following her moving veil piece, she ended with a high-powered Tahitian flavored drum solo.
- Part Two of the evening was an incredible professional lineup. Not only were different styles of Bellydance represented, but also Bharata Natyam and Flamenco. Hayet danced traditional Sharqi to the classical favorite of “Azziza”. Her articulations and playfulness were true to Egypt. Alexia performed a powerful Turkish Rom piece, incorporating traditional Romany gestures. I think the audience wanted to clap, but they weren’t sure what to do with a rhythm so foreign to their ears! Hipnosis performed an ATS duet beginning with an upbeat fusion choreography followed by a hypnotic ‘lead and follow’ piece. Shaily Dadiala performed a beautiful Bharata Natyam (Classical Indian) piece depicting a mother going about her daily routine of chores, while keeping a watchful eye on her children. Pasion y Arte performed a modern Flamenco duet. One in lyrical dress and one in traditional Flamenco dress, they let their bodies talk to each other through the dance.
- It was time for Part Three of the evening, the REALM preview! I’ve heard a lot about this dance-theater production over the last year, so I was excited to finally see some of it! The anticipation was building as an announcement was made that a fog machine would be used, in case anyone had asthma (like I said, Lurainya’s attention to detail was impeccable). The lights went dark, the stage started to fill with fog, and then the music began. The eerie sound pulled the audience in as they waited to see the figures positioned in the fog. The lights slowly faded in as the intensity of the music grew. We could see 6 figures, two glowing in white with feathered headpieces, and 4 in dark, ragged costuming with dreadlocks and tattoos all over their bodies! How Lurainya went from a glamorous cabaret costume to having dreads in her hair and big tattoos on her thigh, arm and stomach, I’ll never know, but it was a remarkable transformation! The choreography that ensued was like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was a combination of modern and ballet, with fleeting hints of Bellydance, Indian and African. Lurainya’s innovative composition told the story of the “struggle, strength and sensuality within everyone woman”. The dancers moved with precision and power. I was left feeling inspired and in awe! You can be sure that after seeing this preview I will be anxiously awaiting the full debut of REALM!
Lurainya is bringing to the belly-dance world what Riverdance has brought to Irish dancing — passion, vision, talent, creativity and mastery. She’s a one-woman force — choreographing, teaching, performing, producing and directing. Watch for Lurainya in the future… I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
By Fatima Bassmah of PhillyRaqs.com:
Saturday, April 28th
I had a wonderful evening at Lurainya’s World Dance Show – it was truly one of the most well-put together and well orchestrated shows that I have attended in some time.
Held in Warminster, it took place in the Warminster Recreation Center, which was a perfect place for the event. The rec center had a spacious room set up with a stage, lighting, sound, and plenty of room for seats, vendors, and food. There were several vendors there, with a wide range of services and products, and the refreshment table included lots of delicious Middle Eastern food. It was very popular, with long lines whenever it was open.
First, I would like to commend Lurainya and those assisting her for keeping very close to their proposed time schedule – the event began promptly and, even though it ended a bit later than planned, it still ended at a reasonable time. I really appreciate this – I’ve been at a lot of dance events lately where they have begun hours (literally) late and ended late into the night. For a show that has a family audience and many children in attendance (like this one), I could tell that everyone appreciated the schedule.
The audience was filled with lots children and adults who were experiencing belly dance for the first time. Everyone had a lot of fun and it was so great to see audience members entranced by the performers. The audience was a bit quiet, which is pretty usual for first time audiences, and I think it would have been very helpful to have an introduction to the show. Perhaps a quick welcome from someone close to the event and an explanation about audience participation (We like it when you clap in time to the music! Hoot and holler when you feel like it! Hiss or say “Aiwa!”) might have put a few audience members at ease. The gentleman a few seats away from me almost fell off his when I let out my first loud zaghareet!
Performances – Part One:
The first part of the show was performed by Lurainya’s students, from beginners to advanced. I really enjoyed the wide range of performances – there was a veil number, a sword duet to U2’s “Mysterious Ways,” a drum solo, a sharqi duet, a fusion piece, a solo with veil, and a nontraditional numer to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Lurainya closed the first part of the show with a fusion veil and drum solo.
I was very impressed with Lurainya’s students, especially when reading the comprehensive program that included their bios and how long they have been taking lessons. Many of Lurainya’s beginners had taken 2 – 4 eight-week sessions or less, and they were on stage, in costume, performing! And they were excellent! I also really enjoyed their costuming – costuming for beginners and first shows can be very tough and everyone looked great, well put together, and comfortable.
Lurainya’s intermediate and advanced students were wonderful as well during their solos. The energy was very upbeat and positive for the first part of the show. A lovely touch came at the end of the first half, where Lurainya brought her students back onto the stage and presented each with a rose as thanks for their hard work.
Performances – Part Two:
The second half of the evening was dedicated to professional dancers from the area. Performers included Hayet, doing traditional raqs sharqi; Alexia performing Turkish Rom; Hipnosis doing American Tribal; Shaily Dadiala performing Bharata Natyam (classical Indian dance); and Flamenco performed by Pasion y Arte.
Every performer listed above is a master of her dance genre, so it was very exciting to see such a collection of talent on one stage. It was also a nice juxtaposition of different dance styles, and one could easily see the influence each dance has on belly dance.
In my opinion, including professional dancers in a variety of dance styles really elevated this show above a typical hafla or student recital – it was truly a SHOW, bringing together all levels of dancers with a variety of dance backgrounds.
By breaking the show into two parts and by presenting a variety of performances and dance styles, the night seemed to fly by and it helped keep the audience engaged and excited.
The night ended with a preview of Lurainya’s latest project, and quite the labor of love – REALM. REALM is the title for Lurainya’s dance-theater production about women and world dance which is currently tentatively scheduled to premier in Spring 2008.
The short piece was riveting. Definitely more modern dance/world dance than straight belly dance, it was entrancing and original. The piece was very powerful and it had an aura of Cirque du Soleil type characterization, with gothic undertones and impressive athleticism (such as the coordinated handsprings). I’m not the best at describing dance performances, and would not do the performance justice by trying to describe it, but I can say that this preview was wholy original and I look forward to seeing Lurainya’s vision unfold in the complete production.
Overall, I had a wonderful evening – I am still processing the music and the performances, mulling them over and incorporating them into my dance knowledge – which is a great sign that I enjoyed the show. I felt that the show appealed to every level of audience member – it gave me, a more experienced dancer, a lot to think about and take away. It was entertaining for family and friends of the performers, and it gave Lurainya’s students, as well as the professional performers, much to absorb as well.
Congratulations and thank you to Lurainya, her volunteers, her students, the vendors, and the professional performers for a memorable night!