Rockin’ the Casbah Notes: Soloists/Coreen

Coreen started her bellydance life as a gym rat who wanted a new ab workout (her words, lol!)So (several years ago) she and a friend signed up for their first dance classes as brand new beginners. They thought it would be fun…a bit of a lark. I remember the two of them in those early days! They were the life of the party and kept everyone laughing. And Coreen, well, Coreen was just hooked on the dance. She soaked it up like a sponge. And because she didn’t come with any previous dance background before joining my classes, I have especially enjoyed watching her grow as a dancer and am proud to be her dance teacher. 

So if you read the last post, you’ll know that I had purchased the chart for Sway but no longer had a dancer for it. I thought the song would be something that would suit Coreen, but I knew she had already picked out a piece. However, after thinking about it for a day or so, I decided to send it to her anyway, on the off-chance that her music wasn’t set in stone yet. Here I had this great piece of music and the unique opportunity for someone to dance with live music. It is such a fabulous thing to dance with live backup. Exihilerating! So I approached her and she loved the idea….the music spoke to her, and she even had the perfect dress for it! All right!

What I love about each of the four who performed a solo in the show is the way each ones personality shone through in her dancing. You can have all the technique in the world, but that secret ingredient that makes you popular with the audience is combining it with the ability to take a risk and let the audience see into your heart. Coreen’s personality shines through in her flirtatiousness and belief in her own feminine strength & power.


Rockin’ the Casbah Notes: Soloist/Nat

Nat did a fabulously fun dance to a fabulously fun piece of music called “Chicky”. I was so excited for Nat because she was so excited (her excitement is contagious! Stay away if you don’t want to catch it!) She also bought her first “real” (her words) costume for this piece. A gorgeous bedlah (bra/belt  set).

Nat’s was the only solo piece I had to “interfere” with. She originally picked Sway. That is a really great tune and I was happy to have her choose it. But then! Oh no! I realized that Sway is actually a Big Band standard – and it would be really odd to have Nat dancing to a canned swing tune when there was a real live swing band sitting right behind her. But then! Oh yes! I had the great idea to buy the chart and have The Big Band play it live. Nat was willing, so I did that.  The band was really happy because they really liked that chart – especially our vocalist, Rebekah Bell. But then! Oh no! This version just didn’t work for Nat. Now this is not a big deal because the band would keep the chart anyway. And the most important thing for a dancer is the music. And if the music doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – nothing else needs to be said. But I felt bad for Nat, and Nat felt bad because I had purchased the chart already. But then! Oh yes! Coreen loved it and decided to dance to it instead (more on that next posting!). So all is well that ends well. And Oh yes! Even better than that!  – because Nat ended up dancing to Chicky and I honestly can’t think of a better song for her. She is a true joy: fun and funny and kind. And her happy personality just shone through. She shone! Yes she did!

Nat was the final number in the show before the New York New York finale and just after the Khaleegi piece. Chicky was the perfect piece of music to transition us from the Arabian Gulf back to swing music in much the same way that Andrameda’s music was the perfect transition between swing and sharqi. I just could not believe how everything came together that way.  Anyway, we needed to transition Nat onto the stage in a creative way that would fit in with the theme of the 2nd set. In the 2nd set, items magically “appeared” on stage to be discovered and then danced with (more on this also, later). So after the Khaleegi piece was over we all formed a circle (in the dark) and Nat snuck onto the stage (in the dark) and entered the circle. When the stage lights came back up, we were turning in a circle to the opening bars of her music and she was hidden inside the circle behind our thobes.  We dispersed and !voila! There she was! Magically appearing on stage to be discovered by the audience. What a perfect ending to the show. Thank you, Nat!

Rockin’ the Casbah Notes: Soloists/Amber

 Amber was in position number three in the line up. First the Big Band did a feature piece: “Land of Make Believe”, followed by Andrameda’s metal fusion with sword, and then a Sharqi number by Amber.  What a perfect and perfectly eclectic trio to open the show with! Amber came to us about 3 years ago as a new Yukoner. She has been dancing about 10 years, and came as a student to me from a contemporary of mine who I had the great pleasure of meeting on the occasion of attending Hadia’s teacher training levels 2 & 3 several years ago. Amber has a bellydance background similar to my own, learning mainly by self- study and practice between private sessions. She had her own classes and troupe in Fort Saint John, and loves taking classes and being part of Saba…no diva lives in this girl’s heart!  I will be first in line to say how much we love and appreciate her with her beautiful, happy temperament, sense of humour, “how can I help” attitude, grace under pressure and joy of the dance. Rockin’ the Casbah is her first big stage show with Saba. Very exciting! She had an OMG I can’t believe I’m dancing on this stage excitement around her – very fun! Amber is a lovely dancer, and performed a very cute piece that was choreographed by her former teacher – what a lovely tribute! Dance on, Amber, and thank you!

photos by Alistair Maitland