How many belly-dancers out there have ever watched the Nutcracker and wished they could “re-do” the Arabian Coffee number?  Plenty, I’m sure.  Elegant and beautiful for what it is, there is very little anything that is Arabian about it.  The waving of the arms, the leotard over pantaloons, a short unusual floor sequence – these are all supposed to elude to something Middle-Eastern.  Don’t get me wrong.  I actually really love the original and am always especially awestruck in those first few moments where the girl is carried out in a veil and then ceremoniously unwrapped.  It is a ballet interpretation of Arabia. I can appreciate that.  Which is why I decided to do my own version.  At first I had plans to make it wholly Middle-Eastern (well, as wholly anything I could do which we know how that goes), but what kept stumping me was that it is such a duet.  It really calls for a man.  So, I was keeping Arabian Coffee in my back pocket.

Then I met Eliseo one night while I was out salsa dancing.  He has the perfect combination of grace and masculinity all rolled into one.  So what resulted is sort of a salsa-esque version. I hope I get to come back to this one.  The music is so dreamy and there is so much more we could have dove into had we had more time in the space.  (I got very lucky sweet talking some security guards to let me sneak into the pavillion and use this space yesterday.  Luckily it was the day after Christmas so the Financial District was quiet and I had been scoping out this marble-lined hall for many months.)  I hope you enjoy this brief artistic sketch on this holiday favorite.


About Holly Shaw

Holly Shaw is a San Francisco Bay Area dancer and choreographer who has performed as a soloist with Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos off and on for several years. Shaw is the creator of the Eve’s Elixir project, a platform for artists of contemporary world dance wanting to bring new ideas to traditional dance forms, and has produced several shows in San Francisco. Her flow between contemporary modern dance, flamenco and Middle-eastern styles makes her a unique choreographer. Shaw has spent years training Bay Area dancers in technique and improvisation, challenging them to dance from a deeper level and uncover their unique style.

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