“Pandora and Quicksilver” (Syrena and Morgiana)
Mosaic Dance Theater Company (MDTC) opened its 2012-2013 season with Folklore and Fantasy, a concert of dance, music, and myth from the Near East. This sold-out performance was presented by the WAE (Wellness, Arts, Enrichment) Center of West Orange, NJ at the critically acclaimed Luna Stage, also of West Orange, in a unique collaboration to make the public aware of this exciting program.
“The Goddesses” (Erin, Kendra, Nina, Mary Susan)
The Paradise of Children, the ageless tale of Pandora’s box, newest in the line-up of the Company’s signature dance/story-theater works, premiered as the show opener. American literary giant Nathaniel Hawthorne penned this particular retelling of the myth, which was adapted and directed by Morgiana Celeste Varricchio, MDTC’s Producing Artistic Director, who also narrated the tale in the persona of the god “Quicksilver” (aka Hermes or Mercury, but better known as the FTD Florist logo). 15-year-old Guest Artist Syrena Nikole Hanna captivated the audience with her portrayal of the curious “Pandora.” Dancing the dual roles of “Goddesses” and “Troubles,” alternately teasing and tormenting poor Pandora, were Mosaic dancers Nina Brewton, Kendra Dushac, and Mary Susan Sinclair-Kuenning, joined by Guest Artist Erin Pellecchia. Samara, MDTC’s Artistic Director for Dance, choreographed the piece, and completed the cast playing the beneficent character of “Hope.” JSDD’s WAE Center supplied simultaneous sign language interpretation through the talented Kat Katona.
“Hope and Pandora” (Samara and Syrena)
Also choreographed by Samara, and the second of MDTC’s premieres, was Dance of The Awalim, reminiscent of the entertainers of the famous Mohammed Ali Street in Cairo, Egypt. Favorites from MDTC’s diverse repertory that were included in the program: a Lebanese dabke, shikhatt dance from Morocco, a Turkish karsilama, and an oriental fantasy. Completing the program was a trio of musical virtuosi, Maurice Chedid, Gamal Shafik, and Elias Sarkar, who accompanied the dances, and performed a special selection of music and songs in Arabic from Egypt and Lebanon and in Hebrew from Israel and Yemen. The audience loved every note.
About the collaboration… The WAE Center, under the leadership of Marilyn Schneider its Founding Director, is an alternative learning center under the auspices of the Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled (JSDD). JSDD’s WAE Center helps individuals with disabilities find the spark within by providing an environment for participants to learn, create, express themselves, and foster meaningful relationships. For eight weeks during this past summer of 2012, Morgiana and Samara worked with the staff at the WAE Center, teaching a short choreography to a group of WAE Center members. The WAE Dancers performed the “Egyptian Baladi Dance,” a new experience for them, as a special part of the concert. The program ended with a lively Q&A session between dancers, musicians and audience. The backstage and technical operations were ably handled by stage manager Bob Greenwald, assistant Adriana Rosa, videographer Jen Bocian, and Liz Cesario, Luna’s Production Manager. Photographer Mansa Mussa (himself a dancer) captured these images. (See more images in the special Folklore & Fantasy slide show http://xomi.pair.com/bobchr/mosaic2/FolkloreFantasy/) This program was made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.