(UN)W.R.A.P.

Emerging Global Citizenship in Transcultural Fusion Dance

Directed by Donna Mejia

Co-curated by Joanna Ashleigh, CU Boulder alumna

Oct. 8-10, 2021 Presented digitally

Director

Donna Mejia

Associate Professor, Department of Theatre & Dance and Chancellor’s Scholar in Residence, Crown Wellness Institute

Co-Artistic Director

Joanna Ashleigh

CU Boulder Theatre & Dance Alumna

Research Production and Grant Support

Brittney Banaei

CU Boulder MFA candidate

Research and Global Survey Oversight

Elizabeth Sweitzer

CU Denver

Logistics and Design Support

Jacqueline Westhead

Office and Logistics Coordinator, CU Boulder National Center for Women & Information Technology

Act 1

Invocation of Life

Oregon, USA & Minas Gerais, Brasil

Carla Michelle Coelho

Carla Michelle Coelho, Jonathan Lanna, Isadora Oliveira, Tuliola, Jossani Fernandes, Bella Mendonça

Talia Vintzileos, Jonathan Lanna, Juliano Butz, Isadora Oliveira, Jossani Fernandes, Bella Mendonça

“Mortal Loucura” by Caetano Veloso and José Miguel Wisnik “Baião Violossintético” by Forró Red Light “Chama” by Lucy Alves

Editing by Carla Michelle Coelho

“This Dance Film Composition carries a lot of influences that include
“Raqs Sharqi’, Contemporary Fusion Bellydance, Contemporary Ballet,
Contemporary Dance, and Brazilian and Afro Brazilian Folk Dances.” A life’s journey starts in some inexplicable ways, like a force that is beyond our control or even our understanding. We go and our life becomes a pathway that we choose but that sometimes we can’t quite of control or predict. There is something bigger than us, a powerful force that conducts this symphony of life and survival. And then we grow with time and uncountable places and mistakes. We experience intensity in feelings and emotions and live through the most profound happenings. And after happy and sorrowful moments we tremble in the face of the magnitude of this long episode that is Life. We feel a deep connection with all beings and the Earth, and we begin to understand that we all share this world and experience different versions of the same struggle. And then we pray, we pray to it as we live, hoping that the lost precious lives we had very close to our hearts walk with us in a certain way, together in this most significant Mystery, this Mortal Madness, our Life. This composition is our version of that prayer.

Talia Vintzileos
Reza Khosravi

Six feet apart-under

California, USA

Shahrzad Khorsandi

Nicole Maria Hoffschneider, Shahrzad Khrosandi, Tara Shahandeh

Nicole Maria Hoffschneider

Dastan Ensemble: Vertex

Central Stage for location/theater

Iranian dance and Modern dance

This piece is a depiction of a nuanced reaction to Covid-19; the anxiety in its various forms, the frustration and suffocating sensation, and also the unexpected opportunity to stop the monotonous rhythm of day-to-day life and reflect. It explores the evolutionary tendency of humans to create a new norm in dire circumstances, one modified to integrate the effects of a pandemic and the limitations it poses on society.

Beware the Wolves

Illinois, USA

Improvisational Approach

Kamrah

Greg Inda and Eva la Feva at Newport Theater

Beware the Wolves – Psyclon Nine and Earth Shaker by Paul Dinletir

American Cabaret “belly dance,” goth dance club (includes Krumping, waving, pop, and lock)

Transnational/transcultural fusion dance encompasses subcultures, and goth is one such subculture that was popular in the fusion world in the early-mid 2000s. Gothic fusion “belly dance” was my gateway into the fusion world in general, as I had been trained in American Cabaret and Lebanese raqs sharqi styles and not in FCBD/ITS. My primary inspirations are Asharah and Tempest, as well as the aesthetics of the “shocking” and “extreme” goth subculture, which includes dressing in dark colors with Romantic and Victorian influences in style, a “serious” expression, interest in morbid themes, and embraces a wide range of alternative musical genres including darkwave, industrial, and black metal. My technique is grounded first and foremost in the movements often called “belly dance,” adding in techniques and aesthetics appropriate to the piece. This piece is firmly grounded in the strong torso isolations and arm frames common in “belly dance” (primarily American Cabaret style, which is also a fusion) while adding what I call “core fusion” movements, popularized in the US by dancers like Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice, such as complex layering, sharp isolations, and flowing arm patterns that are influenced by hip-hop, Krumping, and pop, lock, and waving styles. These dance styles are also commonly seen on goth clubs’ dance floors. Keeping in the improvisational and spontaneous spirit of raqs sharqi and of goth dance clubs, this piece has not been choreographed and is all improvisation.

X Oriental

Utah, USA

Improvisational Approach

Aaliyah Jenny aka Jenny C, Daniel R Cohen, Michael A Cohen

Daniel Cohen, Ariella Cohen, Jenny C Cohen

“King” by Kapua, “Yellow Dust” by Miink, “For Chivae” by Katya Murafa, “Rose of Morroco” by Aziza

“Filmed on the unceded lands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes

Contemporary, Hip Hop, Arabic & Asian Inspired Dances

We strive to exist beyond what the world dictates we be. We are more than what you see at first glance.

Lumina Dance Co

California, USA

Aubre Hill

Stefanie Fatooh & Aubre Hill

Aubre Hill

Delta Rae – “Bottom of the River”

Film Editing by Dan Rosenboom Filmed on the unceded land of the Skokomish Tribe October 2020

Theatrical dance aka “Jazz”, Afro-Caribbean, Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, and Zar Ritual

As an Asian American growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I have continually been inspired by the cross roads of cultures and the expression of mixed cultural identity. “Bottom of the River” is an exploration of those themes through the lens of gender, female expression, feminism, and patriarchy examining American history from the Witch Trials of the 1600’s to present day legislation. The aesthetics blend and navigate the contrasts of Theatrical dance aka “Jazz”, Afro-Caribbean, Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, and Zar Ritual investigating the concept of the feminine across cultures, regions, and contexts.

Chordae

Canada

Maeghan Tuckey and Nikki Mae

Maeghan Tuckey, Nikki Mae

Lola

Tor – Lens

Hair/MUA Kaeko Fujiyama, Lighting Design Jessica Han

Raqs Sharqi, Waacking, Popping, Contemporary, Jazz

Chordae is a playful pull on our collective heart strings in exploration
of the invisible bonds that tie us together. While no two experiences
or expressions are exactly the same, when we follow the threads from one
end to the other we see that we are all connected by the same desires.
To love and be loved. To see and be seen. To move and be moved. Your joy
is my joy, your pain is my pain. When you pull I follow, when you
teeter, I totter. Through the use of Raqs Sharqi, Contemporary,
Waacking, Jazz, and Popping, Luciterra pulls you into and through the
fibrous web that unites us in our unique expressions of our shared lived
experiences.

Venom

United States, Texas

Drake von Trapp

Drake von Trapp

Shelby von Trapp

Venom by Ricky Marano

“Belt is by Sigel Designs, Video editing concept was inspired by Kimberly Larkspur and Ariel Celeste’s video project from Halloween 2020.

Raqs sharqi, contemporary dance, modern dance, West African vernacular dance “‘Venom’ is an interdisciplinary dance video project that demonstrates a dialectic relationship between someone and their inner demons. As a dancer, I’ve never been one to be driven by narrative. However, as the project was materializing, a personal narrative emerged from the editing process, and I realized that it was a visual representation of me warring with mental illness.

The movement choices for this project were intentional, as they were intended to emulate the characteristics of the primary character and the antagonist character, or ‘spectre’. For the primary character, they maintain composed, serpentine raqs sharqi. For the spectre, they lean into creepiness with glitchy, erratic arm and hand gestures paired with posture that is antithetical to the primary character, presenting as hunched, off-kilter, and disjointed. When they confront each other, it shifts to contemporary dance fused with West African vernacular dance to create heightened tension and intense dynamism.

Previously, I’ve relied heavily on technical maximalism for my choreographies. With this piece, I wanted to demonstrate how simplicity and legible technique can create visually stunning textures. I am often worried that if my work isn’t as complicated as possible, I am not worthy of taking up space. This project was a way for me to reconcile with that insecurity, and provide an outlet for others to project their own inner struggles onto. ‘Venom’ takes the viewer through a narrative arc that leaves them both enthralled and unsettled.

 

Act 2

ITS

California, USA

Amy Sigil

Amy Sigil & Kari VanderZwaag

Raven Hoopes

Bad Ol’ cat by Teknoaxe and Dance Again by Neffex Raq Sharqi, Salimpour Format, Hula, and Hip Hop

Hi. I am Amy Sigil. And I am the creator of ITS and Improv Team Sync. ITS is an improvisational fusion dance format, with vocabulary influences and inspirations from Raq Sharqi, the Salimpour Format, Hula, and Hip Hop. It also uses the group movement format, Improv Team Sync. What you are about to see is an improv jam between myself and one of my best friends, Kari VanderZwaag. This is one take, in my backyard, on July 23, 2021. I hope you enjoy it.

Concrete Walls

Canada

Angela Josephine

Angela Josephine

Andrew Livingstone

Fever Ray – Concrete Walls

My teacher Audra Simmons, who organized the project Living Ghosts for which this video was originally made. Raqs Sharqi (part of my lineage), Fusion Bellydance, Modern Dance, Experimental Dance and Creative Movement Concepts This piece, titled Concrete Walls, is about an artist’s struggle with mental health while in isolation. Created during the Covid-19 pandemic, this work also examines the relationship between the creator and their home. Two binaries, repression and projection were used as the basis for movement creation and concept in order to explore my struggle with anxiety and depression. On one end of the spectrum, I use repression as a tool to avoid and bury feelings that scare me. At the other end, I project beyond the physical walls of my home to create assumptions about how people see me and how I fit in to the outside world. As the projection passes through my mind and the layers of protection from the outside, it becomes blurred and distorted. What once might have been a reasonable concern turns into something misshapen and make-believe, which fuels and feeds my anxieties. I used the words repression and projection to form my movement base through abstraction and experimentation. I used this movement base, or series of motifs, to create choreography based on my concept. The movement repertoire incorporates raqs sharqi and fusion bellydance vocabulary as well as modern and experimental dance movement and concepts. Originally this piece was made as part of a project called Living Ghosts, which collectively examined how we haunt our homes and our minds. This project was organized by Audra Simmons and also featured artists Stacie Clarke and Vanessa Matthews.

Witches

United States

Sylvia Schourek

Sylvia Schourek, Jeana Collins, Kayla Niva, Allison Mills, Cynthia Drake

Kris Niva, Sylvia Schourek

Fleassy Malay, Witches

modern, ballet, raqs sharqi, DanceCraft and Datura styles

47 North is a performance group named for the far-north latitude that skims through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, nestled within Ojibwa homelands and ceded territory.

As a fusion dance troupe, we combine movements rooted in Middle Eastern dances that have evolved into forms like DanceCraft and Datura with modern, jazz, hip hop, and ballet. The troupe is co-led by Allison Mills, who stewards the land and mine ruins where we filmed Witches, and Sylvia Schourek, who is the owner and artistic director of the Superior School of Dance, the troupe’s home studio.

Witches is especially powerful to us because it was our first pandemic video project. We filmed in the freezing cold during the heat of the 2020 election, which coincided with Cynthia’s daughter’s cancer diagnosis and Allison’s back surgery. We modified the movement so everyone could participate and deliberately filmed group sections and short solos with each dancer. To us, the mine ruins represent a history that has left scars, yet nothing is static and natural processes continue to transform it. The setting, words, gestures, and gesture modifications are the embodiment of our commitment to make space for wise, compassionate fusion art that welcomes all bodies and honors our individual, group, and cultural lineages.

No Way out but Through

USA, Colorado

Brittney Laleh Banaei

Brittney Laleh Banaei

Audrey Sica

Vesper Star by Beats Antique

Costume: Cristtiano Ferreira

Raqs Sharki, contemporary, West Coast fusion

This is a partly choreographed, partly improvisational piece about journey, exploration, and power.

Madness 

United States

Liz Azi

Liz Azi

Lazy Pickle Productions

Ruelle: Madness 

Modern Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, Eastern European Raqs Sharqi, American Raqs Sharqi fusion

This piece is the culmination of a year studying with several teachers well outside my personal wheelhouse, my travels to Egypt, my DreamCamp experience, and really getting comfortable working on my weaknesses, both as a dancer and as a person.
I wanted to dive deeper into my studies of the elements of Modern Raqs Sharqi, especially Eastern European interpretations and contemporary Egyptian technique and see how they could apply to American Fusion aesthetics and stylizations. I wanted to dialogue these very different, yet intrinsically tied genres of Raqs Sharqi together to and sit in the liminal spaces between these dance vocabularies. I wanted to really pursue a critique I got from Sameer Alfares about utilizing athletic power. I wanted to break myself and be authentically vulnerable on stage and find power within that vulnerability.

Learning to Say Yes

Colorado, USA

Structured Improvisation by Joanna Ashleigh

Joanna Ashleigh

Audrey Sica

Secret Place by CloZee

The movements in this work are blended from the dance styles of Raqs Sharqi/ رقص شرقي, Contemporary Persian, American Cabaret, Silvestre Technique, Datura Style, Modern, and Post Modern Dance.

I returned to college in 2016 with a well defined sense of self; perhaps too defined. I didn’t make any solo work for the next thee years as I took semester after semester of dance styles that were new to me. After which, I felt like a stranger in my own body, disconnected from everything I thought I was. The process of creating this work allowed me to get to know myself again, accepting and sifting through the changes in my body and psyche. This is a work that explores letting go of who you think you should be, seeing who you are, and letting the body have its say. I graduated in May 2020 with a degree in Dance and Minor in Arabic Studies from CU Boulder.
www.JoannaAshleigh.com

Lucy

NY, United States

Improvisational Approach

Serena Spears

Ben Dworken

Destra Garcia – “Lucy”

vogue, waacking, dancehall, soca, twerk, Afro-Cuban folklore, samba, house, salsa, lambada, MENAHT

For me, Lucy is about the joy of self-discovery and the journey towards self-love. It celebrates the freedom that comes from letting go of others’ expectations, society’s conventions, and media’s messaging, acknowledging that finding and loving one’s true self is difficult in a world that thrives off of the misery of the people. Especially for queer BIPOC people, the simple act of dancing freely and happily is a courageous expression of individuality, confidence, and radical self-love.

BONUS Act 3

Inzozi by InangaTaxeem

Rwanda

Hilde Cannoodt

Rosine Uwineza, Sangwa Aline, Hilde Cannoodt, Regis Mistry, Pappy Israel, Esther Niyifasha, Mazimpaka Prime

Fayzo Pro

Inzozi by InangaTaxeem

audioproduction by Bob Pro

flamenco dance, Rwandan traditional dance and Egyptian dance

Inzozi is a project created in May 2021 by the members of InangaTaxeem. Creatively fusing influences of Rwandan traditional music and dance with elements of Egyptian music and dance as well as Spanish flamenco influences, Inzozi is a project that celebrates culture. The song itself is sang in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s local language, and title of the song Inzozi means dreams. The song is about chasing your dreams no matter what challenges you face. It was created in response to the challenges we face here in Rwanda during the COVID pandemic, having no government support as artists and with most performances having come to a complete halt, we were inspired to create this song to keep ourselves as well as our audience motivated. We worked in collaboration with a wellknown Rwandan rapper called Mazimpaka Prime, adding an urban influence to our music. Traditional singer and dancer Sangwa Aline, one of the main members of InangaTaxeem is featured dancing traditional Rwandan dance in this video, while Hilde Cannoodt is mainly focusing on Egyptian dance techniques, accompanied by darkbouka player Regis Mistry. Rosine and Hilde are bringing Flamenco influences in their dance. Both music and dance is a transcultural exploration and one of the main aims of InangaTaxeem is to celebrate culture as well as put music and dance as equal arts within the mainstream Rwandan music industry.

Resilient

California USA

Amel Tafsout

Amel Tafsout

Josie Lewis Photography

“Resilient” by Rising Appalachia

Headdress by Jeannie Lewis

Traditional and Contemporary North African

The words to the song are touching and are relevant in my life and in today’s times. Since living in the US, I have come to know someone from the Appalachian Mountains. I am blown away by the similarities of the two cultures and the spirit of the people. One thing that we have in common is resiliency. I have always loved bluegrass and challenged myself in the performance to bring the two cultures together.

(Un) Be. Coming

CO, USA

Constance Harris

Constance Harris and Victoria Doe-Harris

Erick Chavez

Original Score by Anton Krueger 

African, Afrodance, House, Freestyle, Club dancing

(Un) Be. Coming is a visual mediation on the journey one takes to defining freedom on their own terms.

Smoke Cutter

Colorado, USA

Donna Mejia

Donna Mejia

Carlos Flores, Eyewatch Studios

“Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi (Baru Edit)” by Etsuro Ono

Full credits in video

Secular dances of North Africa, African American Hip Hop, Brazilian Silvestre Techniique

Artist’s Statement spoken in the video’s end credits