Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Art of (Male) Belly Dancing

Male Belly dancer Saleem in Los Angeles
If you have ever wondered if there is such a phenomenon as male belly dancing coming from the Arab world, then Saleem and his ensemble--currently performing in Los Angeles--will function to defy all stereotypes and establish the art of male belly dancing as an artform that can stand on its own.

In fact, Saleem's WHEN MEN DANCE ... FUSION EXOTICA has just been selected as the 'Pick of the Week' by the LA Weekly. In that piece, reviewer Paul Birchall notes that Saleem's "dance tour de force" is part of Highways' annual "Behold" performance festival and presents an intriguingly mixed multicultural bag. Dancers Gabriel Romero and Justo Leonard passionately capture a fascinating mix of machismo and lust in their crackling pas de deux. Ben Jacobs, in flowing Arabic robes, assays a seductive drag siren -- an Indian Hajira, perhaps? -- while Clarence Leonard, portraying a fierce African tribal sex icon, woos him. In addition to providing the evocative, febrile choreography, Saleem himself performs several belly dance routines. And while he's undeniably a "dancer of a certain age," his maturity adds emotional dimension to his movements. His obvious passion for his art is compelling. (Paul Birchall)

For more info see Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; closed. (310) 315-1459

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