Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Who Was Enheduanna?

Four thousand years ago, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flowed, civilization was evolving, with the concept of the city -- Ur, to be specific. Temples were established to the many deities in the Sumerian pantheon. One woman, in particular, dared do what none had done before her -- she signed her name to the poems she wrote!  That woman was Enheduanna, a priestess/poet to the goddess Inanna, and her story is told in the eponymous work created by Samara, MDTC's Artistic Director for Dance (who choreographed) and singer/songwriter Gary Kupper (who directed).  Enheduanna (excerpted from Fo(u)r Women -- learn more), premiered in New Jersey in 2015, and makes its New York premiere on November 17, 2018.

To provide a little pre-show "extra credit", Dr. Phyllis "Phaedra" Saretta, Egyptologist and specialist in the art and archaeology of the ancient Near East, graciously shares some of her knowledge on this fascinating woman of the past.


 


                    

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Now Hear This!

Using a language of movement, a dancer can speak volumes without uttering a single word. MDTC's cast members are masters of this non-verbal vocabulary.  We were lucky enough to catch them on a break, and found them far from silent.  Hear what this group of exceptional artists has to say about our upcoming 15th Anniversary production (and catch a few sneak previews in rehearsal!).


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Snapshots of Summer

Though the Company was in rehearsal during the summer, preparing for the fall, all work and no play -- you know the rest. Our hard-working dancers managed to take a little time off to enjoy the best the season has to offer, and share some moments of summer fun.
Samara in Spoleto
Artistic Director for Dance/Choreographer Samara: "Spoleto has a very artistic atmosphere. The home of the famous Spoleto festival. It is a mixture of ancient Roman Ruins and winding medieval stone streets and buildings. I loved Assisi, a very spiritual atmosphere. It reminded me of the feeling of the wailing wall in Israel. The painted panels on the walls are astounding. Many Many stories based on the life and times of Saint Francis." 
On feeding cats in Trevi:  "These cats really know how to work the neighborhood. Of course I wanted to take all of them home...If I only could!" 
Back home in NY:  "Spending time with my two nephews from France. They come every August
and every year we get to know each other a little better! I have watched more action movies this week then I ever have! Here we are spending a lovely time at Centerport Beach in Northern Long Island. "

 
Kendra in Cooperstown


 Dancer Kendra Dushac McCarthy visited the baseball capital of the world and Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. She watched her hubby, Matt pitch and coach his team in their 25th annual Harlem Shaskys vs. the Albany Shaskys baseball game at the Historic Doubleday Field.  Also pictured is the lovable, furry four-footed mascot Shasky Russell.  





Carlos in Castile


Mosaic guest artist Carlos Fittante: "This summer, after a long absence, I returned to Madrid, Spain. There I visited my extended family and enjoyed being in a Spanish speaking country, great food, Spanish dance lessons, viewing art, and a visit to the Escorial, a World Heritage Site (the palace, monastery, and royal mausoleum built between 1562-1584 by Spanish King Felipe II.)"  Upon returning to NYC, Carlos performed his choreography "Icarus," Saturday, August 18 at Dance at Socrates, Socrates Sculpture Park, NYC. ("Icarus" photo by Stephen Speliotis.)


Danielle in DC


Danielle Hartman, first-time guest dancer with Mosaic: "In July, I spent an exciting dance-filled weekend in Washington, DC. I was invited to dance at a sacred music concert, where I performed Sufi whirling for nearly an hour over the course of the event. Dancing to live
music always gives me the energy to keep going!
The next day there was more dancing at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, where my sister and I attended several Armenian folkdance workshops and enjoyed a beautiful day on the National Mall.  This official Smithsonian video shows a bit of what it was like:"
https://festival.si.edu/blog/rituals-symbols-armenian-wedding-celebration


Bob on Board


 MDTC Tech Director Bob Greenwald: "While visiting family in upstate Maine this summer, my sisters arranged for us all to have combined lessons in yoga and standup paddleboard. Maybe this was my chance for a shortcut to the grace, flexibility and flair that the Mosaic dancers all seem to naturally have. Fortunately the pictures all show me during the times I was on top of the water and not under it."




Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mosaic Dances: Celebrating 15 Years of Mediterranean Magic



Mosaic Dances: 

Celebrating 15 Years of Mediterranean Magic


It doesn’t seem so long ago, that hot summer of 2003, when rehearsals were underway at Fazil’s for Mosaic: A Celebration of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Dance. Those three performances held in early November in Montclair, NJ as part of the 12 Miles West Theater Company’s Guest Artist Series were the genesis of what was to become Mosaic Dance Theater Company. The fifteen years since have been an exciting journey of artistic growth and discovery.  It’s time to celebrate, and we enthusiastically invite you to join us.



We have three performances to share with you some favorite pieces from MDTC’s repertory. We open on November 17 with one performance at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center (MMAC) in New York City, then we cross the Hudson for two performances on December 1 at the Doris M. Byrne Performing Arts Center at Mount St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell, NJ. We have a dynamite cast who can’t wait to delight you. Mosaic Company dancers Samara, Morgiana Celeste Varricchio, Nina Brewton, Kendra Dushac McCarthy. We welcome back guest artists Heather Panikkar, Carlos Fittante, and Allan McCormick, and welcome as new guest performers Danielle Hartman and Kaitlin Hines.



As opening night approaches, you’ll receive complete information on each of our engagements, as well as more in-depth information about the different works planned for the production.  But, for now, to whet your anticipation, here are three (the BIG three!) of the pieces in the program:


·      “Raks al-Sai’idi,” a joyous folkloric dance of Upper Egypt, and one of MDTC's signature dance works, featuring sagat (finger cymbals), assaya (cane), and balas (water jug);



“Enheduanna” an excerpt from “Fo(u)r Women,” a theatrical multi-media work celebrating the life of this first non-anonymous author of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer;

   
  “La Lettera d’Isabella,” an original scenario for the commedia dell’arte, portrayed through movement and dance to an underscore of traditional Italian folk music.



Oh! What a time we’ll have.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Spotlight on Samara

 Samara, MDTC's Artistic Director of Dance and Choreographer,  is pictured in "Red Desert," a signature piece in the Company's repertory, and one of the many exquisite choreographies she has created since the Company's beginnings. (Photo by Gary Heller.)

I can still remember the swirling hips and beautiful hand movements of my older cousins -- such joy they expressed through the music they loved. They were one generation closer to our Greek and Turkish heritage. I always keep that vision close to me. They were captivating women who made their dance look so fluid and so natural. The beauty of being female never looked so good!
   Dance to me is part of nature, something extraordinary. I remember going to City Center to see Martha Graham in my early teens and being totally floored by the depths of her darkness in one of her pieces -- it was riveting, authentic, and so real. It inspired me to study at the Martha Graham School which lead me to become a dance major. At the same time I was studying Middle Eastern dance in Long Island with a student of the famous master Ibrahim Farrah. Her name was Allegra.  She was a beautiful dancer! She brought me to see his dance group at Lincoln Center and I fell in love with the company and the diversity of their work. I started studying at the Ibrahim Farrah Near East Dance School and eventually became a member of the company which really changed my life. I learned so much about the folklore in different regions of the Middle East. Working in the theater gave me the discipline and inspiration I needed to grow as an artist. I had the best of both worlds--working in some of the most popular nightclubs in the U.S with professional orchestras, and simultaneously performing in some of the most prestigious theaters. Middle Eastern Dance was at the top of its game here in New York City in the 1980s. It was the place where people became accustomed to seeing really good talent -- singers and dancers accompanied by superb Middle Eastern orchestras. After the first Gulf war some of the nightclubs closed down. It was then I started spending longer periods of time out of the country. I danced in Jordan, the Ivory Coast West Africa, Mexico City, Cairo, Athens, Istanbul,and Japan to name a few. This was an interesting time in my life, and I really enjoyed the experience of performing in different cultures!
   I find one of my biggest challenges in this performing art form is making people understand what it is. I have gotten to the point where I say I am a dancer who choreographs, performs, and teaches world dance. If they ask for more specifics I explain in more detail but I try not to use the word "belly dance" because to me it does not describe what I do. This is a challenge because most of the time the question I get is, "Do you do belly dance too?"
   The Mosaic Dance Theater has really brought me full circle. It is an honor and a joy to share with the company all that I have learned from my mentors and from all my experience. It is so important to present our dance form in the most disciplined and professional level. This has been passed down to me from others whose vision and dedication I share and cherish, it is my hope that their voices forever live on.

 

Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! Mosaic in Miniature

Mosaic in Miniature



Have you ever wondered what happens to all the fabric remnants garnered from the construction of MDTC's many costumes?  Probably not, but their disposal can create a dilemma -- too large to discard; too small to make a costume. Casa delle Sarte (a.k.a Morgiana Celeste) found a solution by creating miniature Mosaic costumes for 18" dolls, often with the same fabric used in the full-size stage version.  Each of these limited-edition, one-of-a-kind dolls (only 8 of them were created) comes with two additional outfits -- her "street" clothes (worn by these Target's Our Generation dolls) and her "rehearsal" clothes (leotard, tights, warm-up wrap top, and dance skirt). A wonderful gift for that special little dancer. The dolls are for sale, at $125.00 (plus shipping cost, which varies depending upon distance).  Please contact us at "mosaicdtc@att.net" for more information.