Last year I joined Lunaria Dance Theatre, a Seattle-based dance company that performs a fusion of cabaret dance theatre and belly dance. Since joining the group we've been working on getting together our first ever production of our unique full-length show Moon Over Manhattan.
While I've been performing for many years now, I can certainly say I've never been in a show like this one. We are going all out for this one. The show is going to transport the audience through a moon-lit night in Manhattan, complete with mermaids and genies and showgirls. Oh my! While backstage, us performers will be making a mad dash through numerous costume changes, complete with hairpieces and swords and crystal balls. Oh my!
The show is happening one night, and one night only, on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Hale's Palladium in Ballard. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here!
With the show fast approaching in only a few weeks, I thought it would be fun to get to know the Lunaria ladies, as well as the show, a bit more. Thus, I asked each member of the company the same two questions:
1. What is a funny, interesting, or lesser known fact about your dancing, dance experiences, or dance background?
2. What piece in the Moon Over Manhattan show are you looking forward to the most and why?
Here's what they (and me) had to say:
Fact: I almost missed my discovering my passion and love for belly dance. I had signed up for my first ever belly dance class series, and through a series of unfortunate events, missed the first class in the series. I was planning on cancelling the whole thing because I figured I'd be too far behind, but the instructor, the lovely Mish Mish, called me and talked me into coming to the second class and reassured me that I would be able to get caught. The rest is history. Pretty sure I'm caught up now!
Piece: I'm really looking forward to our Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend piece from the Marilyn Monroe movie of the same title. It has all the elements you want in a performance: classy and sassy, sexy and sweet. Each dancer has been developing her own diamond-loving character and I think it's going to put a smile on everyone's face when it all comes together in the show.
Fact: "I performed in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, in which world famous Chef, Gordon Ramsay, was so “embarrassed” by our belly dancing that he forever banned belly dancing at the restaurant. When he came back to revisit the restaurant for a follow up episode we had a t-shirt made for him that said “BELLY DANCING IS NOT A CRIME”. It was awesome!"
Piece: "I’m really excited about our Hey Big Spender piece. I think the 60’s themed costuming, and big, fun wigs will be really entertaining. The choreography features such a contrasting spectrum of energy, from very still and intense, to wild and over the top. I think the audience will get a kick out of it."
Fact: "When Thomas Dolby of She Blinded me With Science fame in the US played a show in Seattle at The Showbox he hired a group of us to belly dance for one of his new songs. His song "Spice Train" was inspired by Belly dancers so he was including them all over the world in his shows. It was fun to feel like a rock star backstage for the show!"
Piece: "I'm really excited to perform the doll duet with Alessandra. I choreographed the piece and had fun balancing the inhuman quality of dolls with the pretty aesthetic we associate with them. It's fun to do and I can't wait to share it with our audience!"
Fact: "I'm the only dancer in a family of musicians. I guess I just had to be different! But I think it has affected my dancing style, and I still love dancing improv to live music."
Piece: "I'm most looking forward to our chair dance. It is such a fun and sexy mix of cabaret, belly dance, and cha cha. Mellilah did a great job on the choreography and we've worked really hard getting all the pieces perfected."
Fact: "My first dance experience was in the high school show choir. It was at that time that I fell in love with performing. However, in those early days, I thought of myself as a singer, actress, and musician rather than a dancer. At university, I was required to take dance credits and one of my instructors told me that I had a great voice but that I should never audition for parts requiring dance. I wish that instructor could see me now!"
Piece: "I’m really looking forward to Heatwave from There’s No Business Like Show Business sung by Marilyn Monroe! It was the toughest piece for me to choreograph as the music is challenging and I had to get really creative in how to incorporate the parasols with seven dancers on a small stage! I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out."
Fact: "I think I have got away with it so far, but if there is nobody in the public restroom and there is a mirror, I am always practicing my dancing until someone walks in and then I play it cool like nothing was ever happening!"
Piece: "I'm really looking forward to the chair choreography because we have worked so hard on getting it in sync it will be great to see it finally come together!"
Fact: "I think my belly dance/dance life was born from a moment of fear of public humiliation. When one of my very early teachers announced we were having a student recital and I didn't see any way of getting out of it, I actually started practicing (OTHER PEOPLE were going to be there!!). As I practiced, I, not so surprisingly, got better and started to enjoy myself and dancing a lot more. I credit that first recital with really pushing me out there and jump starting my love for dance."
Piece: "It's hard to choose which piece I'm most looking forward to – each one is great! I'm particularly excited for the audience to see our new material, like our full New York, New York piece and Heatwave since it's so different from the traditional belly dance that we also perform. I'm also excited about the individual dancers' solo creations. It will be fun to see their creativity in those pieces. I'm looking forward to sharing my mermaid solo as well, since it's really different from any performance I've done previously. Too bad I can't split myself and enjoy the show from the audience's perspective at the same time as enjoying presenting our creations from the stage!"
Fact: "I knew I loved dancing since I was very little, but didn't start taking dance lessons until 2007. I grew up in a very small town in Japan and there were no dance studios/classes in my town! I remember I got Flash Dance on VHS when it came out and I watched it over and over again! And that was probably my very first dance inspiration. My very first dance lesson happened to be a belly dance class and I immediately fell in love with it!"
Piece: "Our bad girl cat trio, because it's got attitude and involves a bit more acting, which is totally new to me!"
Intrigued? Join us for this spectacular spectacle on March 11th. Don't hesitate, buy your tickets today before they sellout!