Worlds Collide

Anahid Sofian remains one of the most respected artists and teachers to emerge from the '70s Middle Eastern dance craze. Erwin Frankel's Near East Dance Festival (Town Hall)—featuring her company, a few guests, and the wonderful Sharqi Orchestra—was enchanting, but Sofian's presence offered the most gratification. Perhaps I'm identifying: Both of our bodies have aged. But placing Sofian among her younger dancers not only reveals the source of their clarity; it also highlights her exalted, supple musicality. She shares her joy in music from her Armenian culture and in Turkish, Greek, North African, and Andalusian rhythms and movement, choreographing with restraint, guiding theatrical presentations with exacting care, making us see there's a lot more to "belly dancing" than shaking t&a.

In Yara Arts Group's Circle (La MaMa), inspired by Buryat Mongolian legends and music, worlds collide, unleashing explosive energy. Modern (Western) and traditional (Eastern) elements interlock in the nuptials of two bright-eyed youngsters; heady, bawdy celebration interweaves with eerie visitations from the beyond. A stunningly beautiful work, Circle rushes at your senses, makes your heart pound, and shakes your feelings loose. I always cry at weddings, but I also laughed a good deal at this one.

Sarah Michelson and Julie Atlas Muz transformed Dixon Place into a dreamy aquatic zone decorated with dozens of Windex bottles, sponges, face towels—everything blue—plastic bowls of water, and protective plastic sheets for front-row laps. Blister me, in which Michelson and Muz perform nude, has radiant, truly gutsy moments—and I don't mean just the synchronized peeing scene! Still, I left wondering if this wide-ranging active meditation on water was stream of consciousness or shtick.

 
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