University Raqs Rocks
Written by Bwog Staff
Last night, the Columbia community gathered in Earl Hall to witness University Raqs, an undulating conclusion to the 3rd Annual Intercollegiate Middle Eastern Dance Conference, hosted by Columbia’s own CU Bellydance. Bwog’s resident Abdominal Expert Liz Jacob now reports.
Guests at last night’s University Raqs were treated to an evening of bellydance performed by troupes from across the Ivy League, in addition to two professional performances by New York-based dancers. Filled with seductive hip and abdominal movements, the showcase left audience members impressed by the overall fluidity and grace of the performers clad in colorful sequined costumes and coin belts.
CU Bellydance’s opening performance set the tone for the show, introducing the audience to the smooth, yet controlled movements that would characterize the evening. As a clear highlight of the night, Jennifer Shearer and Joanie Atkinson, both BC’12, performed a riveting tribal fusion duet set to horn music, stealing the hearts of many of the audience members with their effortless sensuality. Perfectly in sync, the two dancers complimented each other with their seductively fluid movements. Suffice it to say, their performance left the crowd more than a little hot and bothered.
Elisheva, one of the night’s professional performers, displayed enormous technical skill as she danced and whirled with a sword balanced on her head. Despite many sophisticated hip hits and rolls, the sword never fell from her head. As she was dressed in a dominatrix-esque style, she certainly gave the audience members the impression that she was not to be messed with.
Of the non-Columbia performances, UPenn’s Ya’lla was the clear favorite. Featuring dancers and musicians, the group dazzled the guests. The live drum and guitar performance made a palpable increase in the audience’s energy, particularly during the exciting solo performance of one of the troupe’s members. Groups from other schools, however, were not quite as successful. Cornell’s Tesvia Bellydance Troupe suffered from an excess of props. The troupe won the audience’s favor by opening with an excerpt from Aladdin’s “Arabian Nights,” but by incorporating swords, finger cymbals, and large fans, the performance lost itself in unnecessary gimmicks. Harvard’s dancers, though talented, performed very stiffly. Several of the dancers, perhaps in an attempt to appear seductive, took their pouty faces too far and merely looked unhappy.
In the final performance of the night, CU Bellydance stole the show with a simple, yet elegant piece, creating striking images as they manipulated their flowing veils. The effect was natural, not forced—a testament to the dedication of the performers, most of whom had never learned bellydance technique until arriving at college.
As a perfect ending to an evening marked by hip isolations and shimmies, members of all the performing groups engaged in freestyle bellydancing, inviting audience members to join in. All in all, University Raqs made for a lovely evening, an ideal introduction to the art of bellydance.