Adriana Rosa was MDTC's Dance Captain until 2008. While she no longer performs with the Company, she remains involved as Education and Outreach Coordinator. Adriana performs a Tunisian scarf dance. (Photo by Lina Jang)
I saw my first live performance of Middle Eastern dance in Aruba at one of the tourist hotels, and knew then that I wanted to study this art form. Back in New York, my search for a beginner Middle Eastern dance class brought me to the YWCA, with Lettie Castilow (Mish Mish B’int Amira) as the instructor, who just happened to be a performer with the Ibrahim Farrah Near East Dance Group, a world-renowned Middle Eastern dance company.
Since I was looking to challenge myself, I was really surprised and pleased to discover how complex this art form is and how difficult it is to do well. Every part of the body comes into play including hair, head, fingers, chest, hips, and torso. The movements can be strong, dramatic, fluid, at times masculine, and graceful all at once. To master this dance with proficiency, it is critical to isolate one’s movements.
The folkloric dance traditions of the Middle East have always been my favorites. I love the layers of colorful costumes with the hip sashes and sparkling, draping adornments that show off the body’s movements in a lively, captivating manner. If I had to pick one particular folkloric style as my favorite, it would be Egyptian sai’idi because of the hypnotic rhythms of the music that touch me in the core of my being.
The challenges that I face as a performing artist are what keep it exciting. One must be mindful of so many things at once: remembering choreography (obviously!); knowing how to be graceful and composed when the inevitable mistakes happen; relating to the audience and to other dancers; conveying the appropriate emotions and expressions that fit the choreography and the music. These challenges I keep in mind are important in keeping the audience engaged.
Mosaic has given me the enjoyable opportunity to perform on stage, especially in complex group choreographies where each performer is relating to and in sync with the other dancers.