The Swirl and the Stomp
“Olé, Habibi!” A Flamenco/Belly Dance Fusion show December 3 at the Fox Hole Words by Emily Eufinger • Photos by Dan Costello
shake, a shiver, a sigh … there are many differences between the Belly Dancer and the Flamenco Dancer, yet on stage they are as one; souls fused to the music which drives the swirling hips of the Belly Dancer and the crushing heel stomp of the Flamenco Dancer. In the swirl there is presence; there is power in the stomp. Many millennia ago it was undeniably the oscillating hips of a belly dancer which set in motion the earth’s rotation. The belly dancer moves as though her bones flowed as blood beneath her skin, commanding the audience with a twist of her ankle, the flick of a wrist. It is an art form with no wasted energy; each motion matters, from the bladelike precision of her hips to the extensive discipline of each muscle’s slightest fluctuation. Enter the gravitational pull of her grace and fluidity through the portal of music from far away lands, a crooning voice of velvety rose-petal elegance backed by the chime of zills and melodies with Portishead’s electronic sensuality. She makes you feel the pulse of the music with her pulsing hips; your eyes cannot leave her, caught in the tempest of flowing silk scarves, glittering shimmy belts, shells and beads, feathers and flowers, bangle bracelets, and strings of rhinestones. Her movements are subtle yet dramatic: hypnotic undulation of her body’s equator beneath bedlahs that jingle with each exhalation. And no doubt it was the stomp of a flamenco dancer which tilted the earth on its axis. The flamenco dancer does not dance until she is ready; she doesn’t dance until she feels the music permeate her very soul. When she rises, she lets her feet speak for her, telling a story both ancient and sad. The crush of her heel upon the stage expresses volumes of jubilation, determination, urgency, frustration, and triumph. The heel that plods the stage has trampled the hearts of poets and philosophers throughout its interminable journey. She is alone on stage, suffused with the glow of the spotlight. The quiet pride on her face conveys that she does not dance for you; she dances only for herself, and perhaps for a melancholy memory of a time long passed. You may as well not exist while she dances; the whip of her pony tail could demolish you like crashing ocean waves; she could sweep the very thought of you aside with one wave of her billowing skirt. Be grateful she doesn’t look at you, because her gaze could incinerate you, and she wouldn’t trouble herself with disposing of the ashes. Gathering both the belly dancer and the flamenco dancer onto one stage would at first seem as foolhardy as inviting a hurricane and a tornado to supper at the same table. Yet somehow Final Veil, The Reventones, Los Flamencos, Fringe Benefits, Sumaiya, Anna Bahn, and Sakinah Ali were able to combine these opposing winds in breathtaking harmony, successfully engaging the swirl and the stomp as though they’d always belonged together. Learn more about the swirl at www. finalveil.com, www.chellcyraks.com/fringe_ benefits.html, www.sumaiyadance.com/home. html, and http://sakinahali.com; experience the stomp at www.los-flamencos.com; The Reventones can be heard at www.myspace. com/duoreventones.