The Secret Life of a Belly Dancer
04/09/2009 - 13/09/2009
A new play from Geoff Allen about seven Supermarket women whose lives are dramatically changed by taking up Belly Dance.
Jamila is a Kiwi woman whose marriage to an Egyptian man fails. Returning home in disgrace, she works for her father in his supermarket, stacking shelves late at night.
Feeling that her life is going nowhere, in frustration, she dances until she collapses among the aisles. The dance is caught on CCTV. The other women in the supermarket persuade Jamila to teach them Belly Dance. So begins months of secretly practicing in order to get themselves ready for the Auckland Belly-Off; a competition involving the best Belly dance schools around. If only one of them can win a prize – all will win.
A play about the beauty inside every woman.
A story about the dance.
A passion for the music.
Back ground: With the Help of Fiona (Fina) Harding Geoff Allen spent months researching the underground culture of Belly Dance in NZ. Thousands of Kiwi women practice it, few talk about it, it is a secret. A secret kept even from the women’s own husbands.
*Soon to be seen in Neil Parker’s new documentary about the making of:
The Secret Life of a Belly Dancer.
Starring the Russian sensation: Tais.
Rose Centre Belmont 4 – 13th Sept 2009
4th to 13 Sept Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm
(No show on Monday 7 Sept)
Matinees Saturdays & Sundays 5, 6, 12 & 13 Sept at 2pm
Adults $20 Concessions $18
Bookings Ph: 445 9900 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMILA: AMANDA RODRIGUEZ
CAROL: ANGELA KEMP
TELLUS: JESS FORSMAN
BARB: MELISSA CHARBONNEAU
SANDRA: ROBYN DONELLY
DELILAH: CAROL SEAY
BLOKE: JOHN TREVITHICK
REX: PAUL NORELL
FARID: HALIM HASSOONA
COSTUME: ANNA MARIE DIXON
PRODUCTION: ROBYN DONELLY, GINA HARDING
TECHNICAL: ROBERT PARLANE, JAMES GEORGE
SM: EMMA KAY
Feel good potential
Review by James Amos 09th Sep 2009
The Secret Life of a Belly Dancer is a total snore-fest followed by possibly the most entertaining night of your life: a short story made long then saved with great dancing.
A Kiwi girl with a middle-eastern background returns to New Zealand from her life and husband in Egypt. Shamed through her love of belly dance and cast out by her in-laws, Jamila (played by an enchanting Amanda Rodriguez) returns home to stay with Kiwi mum Carol (Angela Kemp) and exotic dad Rex (Paul Norell).
Rex had forbidden his daughter to leave for foreign shores so her return is dealt with sternly. He is the owner of the local supermarket and he gives Jamila a job there, on nightshift shelf stacking duty as punishment. There she meets Barb (Melissa Charbonneu), Angela (Suza Lawrence), Tellus (Jess Forsman) and Sandra (Robyn Donnelly).
These girls form ‘the gang’ and look after poor Jamila. The characters are really lovely and contrasting and make for some great comic moments, particularly the way that Forsman and Donnelly work together! But after catching a sneaky look at Jamila doing her belly dancing in the isles of the store, the rest of the girls want in and convince her to teach them.
Enter the dastardly Delilah Delight (Carol Seay), the owner of a successful Belly dancing school franchise – she is set on running Jamila out of town (in order to remove the competition) … Well this culminates in a dance competition which forms the finale of the show.
Geoff Allen’s script is similar to his direction: slow, clunky and repetitive. If I never see another scene change with stage hands scuttling around in semi-darkness, it will be too soon. We audience members should not have to waste precious moments of our lives this way! The challenges that are setup for the characters to overcome are too contrived (particularly the cancer scenes – which I find a little macabre).
I really wish Geoff would trust his work enough to get someone else to direct it; I’m sure they would tear it in half, which is just what it needs! I am speaking metaphorically of course: cut the play in half and it would be twice as good!
Let me explain; being a new work I expected the play to come in at about 1 ½ hours, I imagined 2 hours tops. No my dear readers The Secret Life of a Belly Dancer comes in at 3 full hours! This is potentially a feel good comedy fusion of Ladies Night and Calendar Girls only more beautiful, sexy and less rude than both.
However, I am prone to exaggeration and things are not as bad as they seem. The dancing at the end is truly fantastic (thanks to the brilliant choreography of Fiona Harding) and the way the ladies struggle to learn the moves (in often hilarious ways) then to shine, is fabulous because I am really wondering if they’ll pull it off … Sorry to let the cat out of the bag, but it’s the dancing that makes the show so great!
I seriously recommend you sit through the first half and stay for this! It’s so rewarding to see these beautiful stunning women do their "thang", both as their characters but also as brave, sexy, confidant people too, because you can’t watch the performance without being acutely aware these are real people as well as imaginary characters and that is what belly dance is about to me and what makes it so great.
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