Shaking Up Notions of Belly Dance

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Friday, August 22, 2008

Funky, striped arm-warmers and stretchy, denim-looking bell-bottoms slit up to there generally aren't the usual costume of choice for a belly dancer.

But that is what you'll find the dozen or so ladies from Sahara Dance school in Tenleytown wearing tonight at their annual Saharabesque! belly dance showcase.

The event spotlights experimental forms of the Middle Eastern dance, meaning the 15 performances will blend everything from a samba (performed by a former competitive Latin dancer) to jazz to grunge with various forms of belly dance for something . . . unexpected.

The bell-bottom get-up? That's for a funk-belly fusion, with hints of "Y.M.C.A."

It's a way of making the ancient dance form relevant to those performing it and watching it today, explains Rachel Kay Brookmire, founder and creative director of Sahara Dance. The dancers tonight, most of whom are faculty and professional company members of the school, created dances that capitalize on their own backgrounds and interests.

What you can expect to see if you go: a grunge-Egyptian work danced to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (costume: flannel, fishnets); an avant-garde piece set to the music of Kate Bush; and a belly dance that turns "tick-tocky" and "tweaky" as it's performed to drum 'n' bass.

Renowned San Francisco "tribal" belly dancer and Bellydance Superstars performer Rachel Brice also returns to the showcase this year to perform two works -- did we mention she has the ability to work her belly like a puffer fish?

The fifth Saharabesque! is at the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre at American University. $30 at the door; $25 in advance at (Note: The event regularly sells out, so advance tickets are a great idea.) 8 p.m. tonight. 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-885-2587.


CONCERT Broken Social Scene Who knows what incarnation of this Canadian mega-collective will actually take the stage when the band visits the State Theatre in NoVa this fall? Well, we do, possibly. After all, the band's loose membership includes Feist, Stars' Amy Millan, Emily Haines and about a dozen others, who have all benefited from the BSS association, and who have a tendency to pop up whenever. But the band has said that the fall's Something for All of Us tour, which comes on the heels of "Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning (Something for All of Us)," should be a seven-piece that includes Canning, co-founder Kevin Drew, Leon Kingstone and Apostle of Hustle's Andrew Whiteman. $25. Oct. 22 at 8:30 p.m. 18 and older. 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. Visit for tickets, or call 703-237-0300.

FILM DC Shorts: Bite-Size Movies With Bite The fifth annual festival of those little morsels of filmmaking returns next month with more than 100 films from around the world, parties and one live night of screenplay reading. "Shorts" in this case constitutes films ranging from one to 21 minutes. The movies are divided into showcases of about 10 to 12 films (all shown at the Landmark's E Street Cinema and U.S. Navy Memorial Heritage Center), and if you miss a showcase, you can always catch it later; each will screen a few times over the course of the week. Our advice: Go on opening night, Sept. 11 (7 p.m.), when the showcase will feature a mini-doc about the Funniest Fed competition, and your ticket will get you into a glittering rooftop opening soiree. $12 per screening; family-film showcases and screenplay competition are free (see Web site for ticket details); VIP passes, $125. Advance purchase is highly recommended. The festival runs through Sept. 18. For full schedule and ticketing, visit



THE SCENE Jazz at the National Gallery of Art Blankets on the grass. Finding shade under some massive sculpture. Dipping bare feet into the pond. That's what summer is. The National Gallery of Art's concert series continues till the end of the season -- and then some, wrapping in early October. Tonight the Young Lions, who opened the series, return for another performance of jazz-rock fusion. Bring a blanket and a picnic. Free. 5-8:30 p.m. (The garden closes at 9:30.) Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-289-3360.


ON STAGE The D.C. Poetry Festival The fourth installment of this free celebration of poetry celebrates the long-defunct Howard Theatre at Seventh and T streets (there has long been a movement to renovate the fenced-off venue, which showcased many of the nation's most talented black artists during segregation). Ayanna Gregory will headline tomorrow's event, with additional performances by Tommy Bottoms and Breeze, who have been featured on "Def Poetry Jam," and musical acts. Free (tickets not required). 7:30-10 p.m. Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 4850 Colorado Ave. NW. 202-426-0486.

FOR FAMILIES Dolley at Dumbarton This weekend will mark the anniversary of first lady Dolley Madison's flight from Washington as the city burned in 1814 during an attack by the British during the War of 1812. Her first stop? Dumbarton House in Georgetown, which has been offering tours in celebration of the anniversary. Through Sunday, a tour guide will talk about the city during the war, offer a tour of the house and let guests sample Madison's favorite cake. $5; students and children, free. Today at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 and 1:15 p.m. Saturday, every 30 minutes from 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Sunday tours, every 30 minutes from 12:15-3:15 p.m. Dumbarton House, 2715 Q St. NW. 202-337-2288.


CONCERT Paying Tribute to Ben's Chili Bowl Does it make us a terrible Washingtonian that we still don't exactly know what a half-smoke is? But we do have much respect for the city's popular late-night eatery that is perhaps as well known for its long line as it is for the aforementioned signature dish. This year marks Ben's 50th anniversary, and in celebration of this event, Wes Felton and Friends, talented go-go outfit Mambo Sauce and children's act Pancake Mountain will perform, among other acts, in a free afternoon show Sunday at the 9:30 club. Tickets are free, but first come, first served. Doors open at 1 p.m. 9:30 club, 815 V St. NW. 202-393-0930.



CONCERT Billy Bob Thornton We find it so postmodern when a movie star comes to town to perform a concert to a crowd really made up of movie fans and readers of Us Weekly and not music lovers per se. Billy Bob, totally brilliant in "Bad Santa" and made famous by "Sling Blade," "Monster's Ball" and Angelina, takes his music seriously, however; he's on his fourth album of country-rock -- you know, the kind with organs and lyrics about hearts and lucky stars. He plays with his band, the Boxmasters, tonight at Rams Head Tavern. $41.50. 7 p.m. 33 West St., Annapolis. Get tickets (you can choose your seats) at

THE SCENE Loda We can't help but return to this weekly house-and-dub bash at Gallery, mostly because it's a place to stay out late and be somewhere cool without ever leaving cozy Montgomery County. Don't forget to check out the space's "alley," a patio that rivals any roof deck. $10; $5 with password (get it by e-mailing 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Gallery, lower level, 1115 East West Hwy., Silver Spring. 301-589-2555 or


THE SCENE The Sonic Circuits Preview Washing ton's festival of experimental music is just around the corner (it starts Sept. 25), and the second benefit bash raising money for the event on Sunday should be seen as an opportunity to check out what drones might be ahead. The brilliantly named Macaroon Five will pull out its custom theremin (crucial for experimental music, folks) for the show. Also hear Barsky/Allison, with members from Insect Factory and Kouhoutek, and T.A. Zoo k. $5 at the door. Show at 7 p.m. Pyramid Atlantic, 8230 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. 301-608-9101.



CLOSING James Bond in the Park It is over; time for the Bond film screenings, which continued for 16 weeks this summer in Rosslyn's Gateway Park, to end. Tonight's final installment is "Die Another Day," famous for, well, Halle Berry in an orange bikini. Free. Tonight at dusk (about 8 p.m.); people generally arrive about 7. Bring a blanket and picnic. Rosslyn Gateway Park, North Lynn Street and Lee Highway, Arlington. For details,


THE SCENE Twilight Polo Just a few more weeks remain of this summer institution at Great Meadow, which attracts families and YPs for an evening of tailgaiting and two polo matches. Leave early, since Great Meadow is about 50 miles west of Washington. Matches begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 per carload or $10 a person at the gate. Great Meadow, 5089 Old Tavern Rd., The Plains. 540-253-5000.

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