BWW Reviews: BLOOD ON THE VEIL Celebrates the Often-Maligned Art of Belly Dance

BWW Reviews: BLOOD ON THE VEIL Celebrates the Often-Maligned Art of Belly Dance

"Blood on the Veil" got its title from Henning/Tandava's harrowing medical condition and she originally created the piece as a one-woman show. Now, though, she invites guest artists to participate in each performance. On February 18th 2015 when I was there, we were treated to Spanish fusion complete with castanets performed and played by Kris Ames, Gypsy fusion by Julia Kulakova, and an undulating personal style by Master Teacher Jehan.

The evening also featured fascinating accounts of belly dance history around the world and demonstrations of a variety of props including finger cymbals, fans, swords, canes, fiery candelabra headpieces, trays with lighted tea candles, wings, and of course veils. The latter are not the sort of veil a bride wears to hide her face. They are long, diaphanous pieces of fabric that are integral elements of the choreography.

Another aspect of this and other belly dance shows is audience participation. I was startled when Tandava beckoned me from my front row seat to join her and the other dancers on stage. Gamely, I put down my reporter's notebook and followed her. She connected the two of us by placing one end of a cane in the center of her belly and the other end in mine while she looked deeply into my eyes. Then, as she began rippling her arms in movements not unlike those of Odile in "Swan Lake", I copied her as I whispered "Is this how you get good reviews?" At that point, she was the one who was startled! She truly hadn't realized she picked the critic to dance with her. Yet as I'm sure you can ascertain from what I've told you up to this point, I was already planning to give her a very good review indeed. If you think of belly dancing as mere gentlemen's club and restaurant entertainment, please go see "Blood on the Veil" for a glorious lesson in the full scope of what this art form really is all about.

The show runs through March 1st at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, NYC 10009 between 8th and 9th Streets. Visit for tickets.

Photo by Sarah Skinner

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Sondra Forsyth Sondra Forsyth is Editor-in-Chief of Broadway World Dance. A National Magazine Award winner and a member of Dance Critics Association, she founded Ballet Ambassadors in New York City and was the Artistic Director for 16 years with support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Currently, she teaches ballet and pointe at Ovations Dance Academy on Long Island and is the Ballet Mistress of Ovations Dance Repertory Company. Sondra has served as a guest teacher for the American Ballet Theatre open classes and on the faculty of The School at Steps on Broadway, the Harkness Dance Center of the 92nd Street Y, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Studio de Ballet Opera in Beirut, Lebanon. She was Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director with Jan Hanniford Goetz of the Huntington School of Ballet and the Huntington Ballet Theatre on Long Island. Sondra is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of and formerly held the posts of Executive Editor at Ladies? Home Journal, Features Editor at Cosmopolitan, and Articles Editor at Bride?s. Sondra?s byline has appeared in Dance Magazine and Dance Teacher as well as many major publications. She is the author or co-author of twelve books and holds an M.A. from Harvard.