Hello, Hey Joe! You Wanna Give Caravanserai A Go?
Tired of alternative facts? Why not give alternative arts a spin? Seraka Dance Company is presenting their fifth annual “A Night at the Caravanserai” vaudevillian variety show Saturday October 6 at 9:30 PM at The Rock House. (Caravanserai is pronounced “care-ah-van-sir-eye” or “care-ah-van-sir-eeee” in case you plan to invite your friends along with you).
The show will focus on belly dancing but Seraka Dance Company has also hosted a number of other acts spanning the entire country including burlesque dancers, jazz and Bollywood performers, violinists, drummers, and vocalists, and circus acts like hoopers, jugglers, clowns and aerialists. “We like the evening to be light, fun, upbeat, and even a little weird – so we hold it at bar venue where drinks are plentiful, the sound is loud, and the washrooms are clean,” Vanessa Matthews, Seraka’s Artistic Director told The Racket via email.
Saturday’s show has an “after dark” theme which aims to provide those in attendance “the eerie, suspenseful, atmospheric, spine tingles that you'd get visiting an abandoned circus ground”. “Our lineup includes the FABULOUS Chris Dunn as our MC,” said Matthews. “[Along] with the Island Belles Burlesque, Here Kitty Kitty Burlesque, Honey Fury (burlesque), Michael Conway (magic), Kara Pender (belly dance), Ainsley (butoh), Stephanie Moyst (jazz), Army of Sass, and the effervescent Fashionista Jones (drag) - and more, but we don't want to give away all our surprises!”
For those readers who are not sure what to expect from this show, or may have preconceived notions as to what belly dance and burlesque entails, we asked for clarification.
“First, belly dance is not burlesque” Matthews stated. “They are two distinctly different art forms, and we love them both. When most people hear "belly dance" often the mind goes to the hoochie-coochie Middle Eastern harem of women. We do not do that.” She noted that while belly dance does tend to be feminine, that can mean a number of things from happy and joyful, to internal, sad, or longing. “It can be sassy, or it can not. It's a beautiful dance form that can be sensual, but definitely doesn't have to be.”
Matthews said Seraka’s brand of belly dance is not what she would particularly consider sexy. “[I]t's more fluid and genuine - more about finding beauty, and sometimes being a little silly more than anything,” she said. “Yes we wear cropped tops or decorated bra/belt sets (called "bedlah") so you do see our midriffs and bellies, but it's really just so that you can see our torso isolations like pops, locks, circles, and undulations.”
Finally, the term vaudeville simply means “variety”. “A typical North American vaudeville performance would be made up of separate, unrelated acts, grouped together on the same bill. It's everything from comedy, dance, singers, acrobats, jugglers, one-act plays, and other "vaudevillians". It developed from saloons, freak shows, dime museum, and burlesque. It's just entertainment at its finest. Plainly put - a vaudeville show is a roaring good time with something for everyone,” promised Matthews.