Local performer, teacher and entrepreneur Emar Gemal is no Sol Hurok. Her Greek and Middle Eastern Dance Festival, which limped its way through Lisner Auditorium on Friday night, proved so amateurish and underrehearsed as to call to mind several basic principles of performance policy:
Before agreeing to sponsor any theatrical venture, such well-established organizations as the Washington Ballet and George Washington University should make it their business to investigate the nature and professional standing of the troupe in question.
It's one thing to pay $12.50 a ticket to see Paul Taylor, New York City Ballet, or any number of fine ethnic companies; it's quite another to shell out that same amount to watch a motley group of largely unskilled dancers stumble through routines familiar to folk or belly dance class.
Authenticity is often a difficult thing to determine. But a program that includes such touches as electric balalaikas, flashing green disco lights, Ziegfeld Follies costumes, and "Who's Who in the Cast" entries like "Scheherezade hails from Miami Beach" makes the matter a trifle easier. And if the choreography seems to have been swiped straight from Ruth St. Denis' reject files, an outraged member of the audience certainly can't be accused of ethnocentricity.