Anna (_ocelott_) wrote,


Oh, Cleopatra. Where exactly do I start?

My bellydance teacher, Nicola, teamed up with the director of the local Spanish dance troupe, to put together a lavish dance production that told the story of Cleopatra's life. When trying to explain it to people, I told them it told a story using dance, like when you go to the ballet, only we used Spanish and Egyptian dance movements.

They flew in internationally sought after Spanish dancer and instructor Beatriz Barcelo to play the title role, and as you'd expect, she was wonderful. As you might not expect, she was also a lovely person to work with.

We started rehearsals in January, every Sunday evening until the show opened in July. The last couple of weeks, I started to think we all just lived in the studio. Fortunately, we lucked out with our cast, and everyone got on really well.

The first act details Cleopatra's rise to power, her relationship with Caesar, and ends with his death. Act 2 involved her love affair with Antony, the big sea battle with Rome, and Cleopatra's suicide. We did 7 performances at the fringe festival (a live theatre festival that goes on for about two weeks; there are a ton of live shows to see, and 7 is about the average number of shows), and reviews were... kind of hilarious, actually. People appreciated the gorgeous theatricality of it and that we were different from everything else that was playing, but weren't quite sure what to expect from a dance show. You got the feeling a few of the reviewers had never been to the ballet, let alone seen anything like the type of dancing we were doing. Everyone who came for the dancing enjoyed it, though.

And photos! Sadly, I don't have many shots from the show. I was essentially a chorus girl, which meant a plethora of costume changes so I could be many different people. First, we had the Egyptian temple priestesses, who bless Cleopatra with fertility so she can bear Caesar's children (that's the goddess Isis in the background):

The addition of jangly belts and bangle bracelets magically transformed us into enthusiastic Egyptian ambassadors, trying to show Rome how awesome Egypt is in an effort to prevent them from flattening us. (That's Beatriz as Cleopatra on the throne in the second photo.)

At the beginning of Act 2, Cleopatra has a dream about the dark god Set and his minions killing Osiris (representing Caesar), and then Horus (representing Antony) comes in to avenge Osiris and becomes Isis's new partner. This shot has Set sneaking up on Osiris and the minions distracting Isis so she can't interfere.

The battle dance, which wound up pretty well everyone's favourite. For the most part, the Spanish dancers portrayed the soldiers, and the Egyptian dancers were more or less evil mermaids drowning everyone with our epic prop use.

Fan dance! Where we are all nubile girls welcoming Antony into Egypt. Also, an excuse to use the gorgeous feather fans.

The finale. Cleopatra has just committed suicide (that's her lying down in the background), and the rest of us are, I think, meant to be escorting her spirit to the Underworld, where she's reunited with Antony.

Afterwards, we had an epic cast party, and I discovered being in this production has absolutely ruined me for watching any Spanish/bellydance fusion. It's got to be done well, or I just can't watch it, because after having spent so much time with this cast, I actually know what it should look like.

Also, they did create a trailer for the show, as part of the advertisement, so have at:

Tags: dance, performance

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