If you like dance, Fairfax County can get it for you wholesale.
This Saturday, the Fairfax County Council of the Arts and Department of Recreation are sponsoring their fifth annual "DANCElebration," a smorgasbord of organized movement. There will be little kids and senior couples, jazz and ballet, solos and stage-fulls, cloggers and Raks el Sharqi.
That last bit translates as "belly dancing" without the bellies. "The term is beladi, which means 'country' in Arabic," said an indignant Becky Skall, director of the Topkapi dancers, one of two Middle-Eastern dancing groups scheduled to appear. "And it is only in America that they wear those skimpy costumes. We don't do that. We dance in churches."
Skall, whose group presents a survey of Middle Eastern dances for the Fairfax Concerts in the School program, became interested in the art as a form of therapy after she underwent surgery. "It uses the internal muscles in your legs and rib cage," she said. "One historian said it was originally created to help women prepare for childbirth, and this may be true. Some of the exercises they do in Lamaze (natural childbirth classes) are similar to our exercises."
DANCElebration has a different purpose in mind, said its artistic director, Glen Greene. "We want to provide a format for Northern Virginia dance groups to perform for the public, and for potential students to see what schools and studios are available," said Greene, a dance instructor at American University and a graduate of Annandale's Woodson High School. "The feedback we've had on this thing is that the groups get a lot of calls after the show from people wanting to take classes."
For this reason, Greene strives for the widest possible spectrum of dancers, "since you never know what might inspire someone sitting out there." The show is divided into two parts, with the afternoon portion geared toward the younger crowd, and the evening show featuring "the more professional groups," he said.
The afternoon crowd, which will be filled with "relatives and friends of the performers," said Greene, will be treated to folk dancing, Middle Eastern work, jazz, tap, and some Broadway-type choreography to music from "Annie" and "Fame."
The evening performance, which draws the "dance groupies," Greene said, will start with a "really gorgeous veil dance" by the McLean MidEast Dance Association. The program works through a long medley of jazz, modern and classical ballet and ends with a "foot-stomping, hand-clapping finale by the Old Dominion Cloggers," Greene said.
This group, which claims to be the only clogging studio in Northern Virginia, uses a technique that came out of the melting pot of Appalachia. With steps that are part Irish jig, part Bavarian polka and part tap dance, cloggers swing around the floor in a square-dance pattern, in shoes equipped with "swivel taps," said the group's social secretary, Anita Hawkins.
Clogging is hot stuff now in Georgia and North Carolina, Hawkins said, and is "just moving into this area." The local cloggers present their version, described as "precision-type clogging, which means that all the people are moving in the same direction at the same time," to nursing homes and community groups for benefit concerts. "Then every so often, we put on a concert for hard bucks," she said.
But not this Saturday. Then, almost 20 dance groups will be kicking up their heels for the pure profit of satisfaction in an event that "always puts us into the hole," said Carol Crouse of Fairfax County's Department of Recreation. The minimal door charge, which pays the rent and custodial fees, sometimes also lets the sponsors of the event break even, she said, although since the program's inception five years ago, they have never been able to pay the dancers.
The dancers turn out for an opportunity to "educate the public," as Skall puts it, and to get an audience--wholesale.
"DANCElebration," sponsored by the Fairfax County Council of the Arts and Department of Recreation, this Saturday at Annandale High School auditorium, 4700 Medford Dr., Annandale. Performances are from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Admission to each show is $2 for adults, $1 for students; senior citizens can get in free. For tickets and information, call 941-6066 or 691-2671.