“Australia has never seen anything like this before,” says producer/dancer Jrisi Jusakos, describing the new show from dance company, Bellydance Evolution called Fantasm – 1001 Nights. The show has already toured around Europe and Asia to elated audiences, and now it is doing a limited season in Australia. Fantasm tells the famous Arabian folk stories from the classic text, 1001 Nights, but does it all with dance, using raqs sharqi (the correct term for “bellydance”) as a base and mixing in various other disciplines including contemporary and classical.
Australians normally only experience raqs sharqi in the form of bellydancers in restaurants or at weddings.
“You rarely see it in a theatrical context, particularly supported by a narrative and supported by original composition,” says Jurakos. “This whole show is choreographed to an original composition by Paul Dinletir who is an LA based musical composer for motion pictures.”
It’s a truly international troupe of dancers. When they were casting for it they put a call out online and invited applicants from around the world. The lead performers include ballet dancers from Latvia and a Polynesian from Los Angeles who had previously performed with Cirque du Soleil. The rest of the ensemble come from countries including New Zealand, Italy, Venezuela, America, and Mexico. There is also a percussionist from Germany who will play the Arabic tambla (drum) live on stage.
“We also use a lot of props that are really visual, such as wings and veils and big umbrellas and lots of visually spectacular things,” says Jusakos. “It’s a show that, even though you may not know bellydance or never seen it, but you love dance or you love art or you love theatre… this is something that is for everyone. It’s a universal language.”
It’s something that a whole family can see together and prices for children and seniors have been heavily discounted.
“We want them to come and see the show.”
Mar 9. The Concourse, Victoria Ave, Chatswood. $39-$79.80+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.bellydanceevolution.com.au
By Rita Bratovich