Dancerpades Part III - Fusion Confusion
And now … drum rolls … we have the fusion segment of the Solo competition. I knew this would be the most interesting segment because the organiser’s school is infamous for their myriad attempts at fusion. I was also curious as to how the Alhambra group would handle Fusion because of their usual focus on traditional dance.
I was in for a shock and a nasty one too and here are the reasons why.
Shireen returned to the stage in a black and silver bedleh. She again chose to wield the veil and her fusion was to a remixed version of Sarah Brightman’s Harem. It was unfortunate that Shireen chose to use a veil again as she needs to gain a better control of this prop first.
The interpretation of the music was very poor where the veil was swirled wildly in response to the fast-paced chords and poorly executed spins demonstrated a weak sense of timing and rhythm. There was a lack of real fusion and again, Shireen appeared very uncomfortable with this genre and her own performance.
I gave her a 5.5/10 for presentation & framing; 3/10 for fluidity of technique; 4/10 for expression; 3.75/10 for originality & creativity; and 3.75/10 for rhythm & musicality. Overall, Shireen scored a 4/10.
Anyone who knows me knows that Tarkan is one of my least favourite singers. Shayna sashayed into the stage dressed in a tragic costume of gold and yellow. No, those colours are not tragic, but the dangling strands of beads protruding from her nipples and middle of her top were. The look was ridiculously tacky and cheap and reminiscent of burlesque skits – I half expected Shayna to begin twirling the dangling strands a la stripper tassels and suspected that Janet Jackson was reviewing her costume malfunction tapes.
Matters were not helped by her choice of music. Tarkan’s Come Closer made me feel anything but that. She showed some nice camels but she kept posing throughout the song and unfortunately, these poses were as tacky as her costume. I found the choreography discordant and strange but the ending truly made an average performance into a travesty. Shayna’s ending pose was a side lunge, facing full frontal. Which meant her skirt split opened to reveal a tremendous amount of leg and a very undesirable crotch view.
Second time in a row today! Have the gods no mercy???!!
I have only seen this incredibly vulgar move once when her teacher performed at a concert last year. When she performed this move in panoramic view of a middle eastern dignitary, the poor man averted his eyes, made his apologies to me, immediately called it a day and left the building. That they have not realised just how offensive this move is, is a mystery to me.
Having heard of this infamous move but never seeing this for herself, poor 3A was horrified and hysterical with laughter. I was so embarrassed for Shayna I could not even look at her as she left the stage oblivious to her huge faux pas.
I gave her a 3.5/10 for presentation & framing; 4/10 for fluidity of technique; 4/10 for expression; 3/10 for originality & creativity; and 4.5/10 for rhythm & musicality, making that a 3.8/10 for Shayna.
Thankfully, the next dancer was Maia. With her hair pulled back, a dramatically simple and tasteful orange, yellow, silver and white bedleh, Maia was a welcome return to common sense and classy style. When the first strands of Ancient Ruins by Issam Houshan drifted through the auditorium, I turned to look at 3A, who has been choreographing and teaching to this piece of music in the last month.
We were both eager to see Maia’s interpretation of this beautiful piece of music. While I thought it was not as well interpreted as it could have been, there were some elements which I rather liked. Maia’s natural lyricism and fluidity were much in evidence and I found myself rather enjoying the performance as she demonstrated a musicality and appreciation for her song choice that none of her schoolmates had shown as yet.
I was not fond of the over-use of pharoanic arms and she fell prey to her school’s predilection to standing with their legs too wide, resulting in a rather unattractive stance. Her taksim was quite lovely, as well as her shimmy undulations. I particular enjoyed a combination of exaggerated semi hip circles and heavy hip drops that she executed flawlessly.
Again, I noticed her weak interpretation of drum accents – something she might want to improve on so that she can be a more well-rounded dancer.
I was not sure if Maia had a hand in the choreography or if this was, yet again, another lifted piece from some master teacher. But I sensed that she did put in a fair bit of herself in this dance item. She had a grace and true feel of music that was quite rare in this contest, prompting me to mentally place her in the top three pending the performance of the rest of the contestants.
I gave her a 7/10 for presentation & framing; 7/10 for fluidity of technique; 7/10 for expression; 6.5/10 for originality & creativity; and 6.5/10 for rhythm & musicality, giving her a well-deserved 6.8/10.
Joey returned in a flash of gaudy gold and iridescent beads. While the costume was eye-catching, I did not think it flattered Joey as her earlier costume of bright red did. Since she is such a tiny dancer, it almost looked like the costume wore her instead of her wearing it.
Evidently pop fusion is Joey’s thing - she looked more animated than in her Traditional segment as Shakira belted out another of her Latin fusion songs into the room. Still, Joey did not appear to be in full form as she lacked the passion and energy required for a Shakira song.
Her chest accents were wobbly, which is unlike her, and these were noticeable as the choreography over-used them. Joey’s reverse camels have always been impressive and here, she did not disappoint. During her salsa fusion dance, I noticed her strangely floppy wrists and am still wondering what that is all about. Her hip accents were better executed this time but something must be up with Joey that day as she repeatedly displayed a lack of power and energy in her arms.
Again, her disturbing facial machinations detracted from her performance – pity.
I found the choreography competent but uninspiring and not particularly interesting. Therefore, I accorded Joey 5.75/10 for presentation& framing; 6.5/10 for fluidity of technique; 4.5/10 for expression; 5.5/10 for originality & creativity; and 5.5/10 for rhythm & musicality. This stronger performance than her Traditional piece garnered her a 5.55/10.
The next review hurts me more than it hurts the dancer. It was obvious Veira was performing a flamenco fusion number with her skirt and de rigueur flower in hair. What was odd were the two sandalwood fans clutched in each hand, which looked like made-in-Taiwan souvenirs.
She began the performance with a dramatic bent position still with the two fans, closed, in each fist. My hope that one was a backup was dashed. Someone please tell her we do not dance with two fans in flamenco. I expected a dramatic start to her interpretation of yet another Shakira song. Instead she gave a flick of both wrists to open up the fans, rose to upright position, braced the fans against each inner wrist after some desultory flurries and proceeded to continue to dance pretty much in that open-fans pose the whole song.
There are so many things wrong with that that I do not even know where to start. I was only glad that Antonio Vargas or any one from the flamenco community was not there. What was the point of the fans if Veira are not going to use them for anything other than directional devices? I was tempted to call her in for illegal abuse of props
It was less dance than posturing and except for her costume, there was really no flamenco fusion of any kind. A contestant had approached a flamenco dancer/teacher friend and former teacher of mine for a private lesson a week before the contest. I wondered if Veira was the contestant as I was embarrassed that my friend would assume that all middle eastern dancers would disrespect his dance form thus.
Fusion is harder to achieve because you need to be proficient in not only one but two dance forms in order to fuse them seamlessly. There must be a balance between the two and you have to observe the fundamental principles, spirit, soul and rhythm of both. Simply using a prop (and a wrong one at that!) and wearing a couple of accessories does not a fusion piece make.
I was so troubled I was almost reluctant to give Veira any points but I forced myself to be objective. She got 4/10 for presentation & framing; 3.75/10 for fluidity of technique; 4/10 for expression; 2/10 for originality & creativity; and 3/10 for rhythm & musicality. Overall, Veira received 3.35/10.
The moment Layla entered the room, I knew she was doing an Indian fusion piece. Her perky self was dolled up in braids, shocking pink choli and harem pants with gold trimmings. Frankly, she looked like a Chinese Barbie doll in Indian costume. Very cute.
When the music began, I knew immediately it was Rose Ottaviano of Perth’s Bhangra fusion choreography, which she taught at a workshop here last year. Same music. Same choreo. Again, it irked me that she was not attributed or acknowledged.
Layla’s natural effervescence gave the performance a nice energy and she made good use of the stage which was something that was lacking in many of the contestants.
However, while Rose had a certain edginess and dynamism when she performed this number, Layla was just too cutesy and bouncy to make this dance truly memorable. She also messed up the two fingered hand gesture that Rose choreographed and made it look more like a fight sequence in a bad Chinese kungfu movie … you know the ones where neon pulses of coloured beams shoot out from the ubiquitous two fingered stab of the usually mustachioed villain? Rose’s cheeky but controlled bhangra hand flicks also ended up looking like a drunk gay guy trying to flick flies off his head.
Personally I rather liked Layla’s performance even if it is not one of my favourite Indian fusion numbers, with much respect to Rose whom I adore and respect immensely. Layla’s energy and perkiness are always pleasant to watch and it was a pity that the audience was so lukewarm towards her performance. Again, I believe it was due to her over-use of facial expressions, moues, pouts and various artifices that distanced her from an audience who may have found this artificial and contrived.
I gave Layla a 6.5/10 for presentation & framing; 5/10 for fluidity of techniques; 5/10 for expression; 2/10 for originality & creativity; and 5.5/10 for rhythm & musicality, giving her a total average of 4.8/10.
Ayana walked onto the stage and I groaned. After the travesty of Veira’s so-called flamenco fusion I did not think I was up for another attempt. At least her fan was more like it, I consoled myself. I rather like Ayana’s lines. In her poses, she showed an attention to posture, lines and details that translated well although she had a tendency to lift her chin too much.
And at least Ayana twirled the fan while dancing to the Alabina song. Except she did not stop twirling it for a very long time. That was all she did while doing box steps, pivot turns and traveling. It got rather monotonous fairly quickly. Fortunately, she offered a slight variation when she closed the fan and started swiveling it with the other hand much like the “Copacabana move” terrorised, I mean, popularised by Barry Manilow centuries ago. I made a note to ask Antonio when Barry Manilow became a flamenco dancer.
Probably sensing my waning attention, Ayana proceeded to execute an extended floorwork routine beginning with a well splayed frontal split. She balanced the folded up fan on her head and this would be impressive if the fan was actually longer by more than 1½ inch from either side of her head. Perhaps due to her intense focus on balancing the fan on her head, her shoulder shimmies were completely off rhythm and tempo.
There is not much to say other than she wore a nice red and black costume and the exit off stage at the end of the song was really weak. Let’s just move on to the scores … 6.5/10 for presentation & framing; 5/10 for fluidity of technique; 4.75/10 for expression; 3/10 for originality & creativity; and 4.5/10 for rhythm & musicality. Overall, Ayana received 4.75/10.
Nyssa performed yet another item from her hotel lounge gig. This mediocre pop fusion number was so memorable I cannot remember the song. But I do remember Nyssa’s extremely bad arms. She is the biggest culprit of the chicken shimmy arms among all the dancers I saw that day. She was also the fondest of the “come-hither” arms. As I promised myself, I looked for a penknife to stab myself with but luck was not with me.
Her Sohair hip accents were fairly well defined but lacked power. On a positive note, she looked quite pretty in her cobalt blue and yellow bedleh.
Nyssa’s excessive flogging of pharoanic arms coupled with her slight awkwardness made these look like she was either surrendering to some looming UFO or making a very exaggerated shrug at one. The other distressing arm movement was the one I termed as the “sha ji” or chicken slaughter move where she mimics the throat slitting of a chicken clasped above shoulder level. Actually I remember a taekwando movement that is rather reminiscent! Hey, maybe it's a taekwando fusion!
Nyssa received a 5.5/10 for presentation & framing; 4/10 for fluidity of movement; 3.75/10 for originality & creativity; 4/10 for expression; and 4/10 for rhythm & musicality. Overall, she scored 4.25/10.
At this point, I am developing a migraine much like 3As by the end of each segment. I will return when my battered senses and sensibilities recover from the latest onslaught.