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 BroadwayWorld.com 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 http://bloodontheveil.com/ for tickets.
Photo by Sarah Skinner