Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reflections on "Arabian Nights" by Sisters of Salome

A year ago, I co-produced and performed my own dance-based solo show at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and this afternoon, I was happy to watch another dance-based production at the first of what I'm hoping will be a mini Fringe crawl this year. I watched "Arabian Nights" by Sisters of Salome, choreographed by Sarah Skinner and a few guest choreographers. One of the best things about my current housing is its location-  the Terragon Theatre, where the production was staged, is only a short walk away.

I was also drawn towards this production (which had been on my Fringe list for this year) for another reason.  As a dancer of world dance forms, I am always interested to see the scope of conceptualization in productions based on other world dance forms (I will unpack the term "world dance forms" later- I recognize this is a broad and loaded label, and yes, every dance form is a "world dance form". In this immediate context, I'm referring to primarily a dance vocabulary birthed geographically outside of Euro-North American lands). I recognize that much like my own practice, these productions perhaps similarly straddle two worlds and multiple cultural contexts, and I'm always curious to see how these dialogues play out in the production.

I think "Arabian Nights" delivers this dialogue in a fun, accessible, and entertaining way. The production features a fairly large ensemble cast (14 cast members), and is visually engaging and fun to watch. At no point did I find myself visually exhausted or bored. What excited me the most was the number of different dance vocabularies and concepts it dealt with. I saw movement influences and repertoire from bellydance, folklore, ballroom dance vocabularies, martial arts, and a very arresting ending. I enjoyed watching athletic and skilled performers in the different scenes, the humour in some of the scenes, the sensuality of other scenes (and some scenes do combine both!),  the colourful ensemble numbers, and the production values.

 What I remain the most appreciative of is the sheer novelty and the breadth of Sarah Skinner's vision for this production.  I would consider watching it a second time just to absorb its visuals and colours again.

For more information about the showtimes:

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