Bellydancers fuse world influences, fantastic visuals

On Saturday, Nov. 10, Wadsworth Auditorium hosted the Limelight and Accents event, Bellydance Superstars, for a packed crowd of students, faculty and community members.

Bellydance Superstars is a troupe of 14 dancers and one master percussionist that was founded by well-known rock music industry professional Miles Copeland over four years ago. Their dance and music style could best be described as, according to a group coordinator, a combination of, "Egyptian, cabaret, tribal, and Polynesian influences," that creates an entertaining as well as culturally educational show for Western audiences.

Their performance skill, combined with a fantastic light show, intoxicating music and dazzling costumes, made Bellydance Superstars an undeniable success with the Geneseo audience.

The show opened with several Egyptian and North African cultural images projected onto a screen above the dancers, who emerged in glittering skirts and tops of gold and black. The impressive choreography of this first segment of the show, coupled with the talented performances of the dancers, resulted in thunderous applause as well as cheers of approval from the amazed audience.

The next act of the show featured percussionist Issam Houshan playing on a hand drum while one of the dancers moved to the rhythm of his playing in an eye-catching teal and purple costume. Audience members looked on in amazement as she managed to keep up with the drum even at its fastest pace, and then slowed as the drum did until she was moving only a single abdominal muscle at a time to its beat.

The dances were primarily borrowed from Egyptian culture, featuring veils, exotic jewelry and North African-inspired music, but occasional numbers had an obvious cabaret or Polynesian origin. One of the cabaret-inspired dances, for instance, involved four of the girls in frilled black and red costumes incorporating line dancing (as opposed to just hip/belly movements) into their performance.

Likewise, one of the Polynesian-influenced dances saw troupe members in grass skirts with tropical flowers in their hair dancing to music with a distinctly more tribal sound than its Egyptian or cabaret counterparts.

The lighting effects used throughout the show not only highlighted the beauty of the costumes (which came in a number of intricate styles and colors), but added significantly to the visual quality of the performance. Often, shadows of the dancers were cast on the walls surrounding the audience in such a way that observers felt completely immersed in the performance. Likewise, the power, exoticism and emotion of the music itself entertained viewers, both old and young alike, and left them eager for more as the acts progressed.

The show ended with a stunning dance in which all troupe members participated, again displaying the skills of their talented choreographer. An impressive hand drum solo, again by Houshan, concluded this final act. As the Bellydance Superstars took their bows, they were met with a standing ovation and cheers of approval from an appreciative Geneseo audience.