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Thread: Pantomime

  1. #1
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    Default Pantomime

    I’ve been asked if I would choreograph two bellydance routines for a local village pantomime (Sinbad in February 2013).
    Has anyone got experience in doing this?
    Should I run a mile, or embrace it with open arms as a challenge?

    I'm aware that pantomimes can be stereotype-fuelled bad jokes and innuendos at the best of times, and I fear the bellydancing scenes will probably involve either pretty girls dancing for the Sultan, or men in drag as a comedy interlude. But could this be an oppurtunity to at least get them doing 'proper' bellydance rather than a pop video routine, and instill a bit of understanding into the cast (and then hopefully their family and friends) that there is more to it than that?
    And, of course, I'll also get some experience in creating, teaching and staging a choreography, and a bit of local publicity.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by Duvet; 06-25-2012 at 12:39 AM.

  2. #2
    Junior Member Jameelah's Avatar
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    After reading your post I came up with an idea. (im assuming your a male bellydancer)

    A thief could be run away from sultans guards, and into a harem of bellydancers where he has to pretend to dance to hide from the guards. At the start he can really bad but then at the end be really good and the bellydancing ladies could then carry him off as a finish.
    Let me know how it goes because I'm looking into doing something similar as a charity fundraiser.
    Good Luck

  3. #3
    Member Pleasant dancer's Avatar
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    I once did this with my (then) teacher and a small group of ladies from the class who were used to performing. The four of us did a short (2 1/2 minute!) routine in oriental costume, sort of "dancing girls in the palace" routine. I think it might have been Sinbad or Aladdin - can't remember!

    My teacher also did a short, simple choreography for the little girls who were part of the panto, they had the usual Princess Jasmine type costumes on. If I remember rightly the adult dancers (us!) were the stars of the show, let's face it these things tend to be acted by amateur groups with big egos and I think a bit of real dancing (yes, we were quite good and did it properly, looked wonderful etc, and yes I'm boasting!!).

    Back to topic..... Duvet there's no reason why you shouldn't do this, IMHO, after all they will probably go ahead and do it anyway, and someone with a bit of proper oriental dance knowledge can keep it from being too cheesy and add a touch of authenticity. Will you being teaching complete novices? Perhaps the group could get some local belly dance group to do at least one of the scenes?

    Best of luck!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    Well, I’ve had the pantomime script sent to me. It’s all been written, and I’ve no say on the plot line or setting of the bellydance scenes, and the dancers will depend on the auditions from the village. I don’t think they’ve settled on the music yet, so I might get a say in that. Any ideas if I do?

    Stage directions for the first routine; “some shapely and scantily clad belly dancers come from the inn [The Eunuch’s Arms] and perform their exotic dance” in front of a group of pirates.

    The second routine will involve two of the male characters dressed up in “a comic duplicate of the Belly Dancer’s costume with a female wig and yashmak.” The scene involves much flirting with the Pirate villain and a comic belly-dance routine.

    So, just as I feared. But as Pleasant Dancer said, they’re going to do it anyway, so might as well try and minimize the damage.

  5. #5
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    I wish you all the best with your damage control. I'm sorry you don't have any say in the writing or plot line. Personally, I don't like it because it plays right into the stereotype that most of the GP holds to when it comes to bellydance.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Well for the tavern scene, the bellydancers could play it straight, and the pirates could ham it up. I'd rather see the pirates act lecherous, than the bellydancers.

    I'm guessing in the pantomine the (character) dancers would be performing for pay from the pirates, not just because they like dancing in taverns? I would like to see collecting the money worked in (the head dancer could urge the pirates to contribute money: need more gold coins, not enough, need more - NOW you have a show!), making it obvious to the (real) audience that the dancers are dancing as a job, not to advertise other services.

    Also, it would be cute if a young handsome pirate, or a rough scary pirate, gave a flower to one of the dancers at the end of the performance. They could both be very bashful about it; it could be a fun and sweet bit. Then the head dancer could hurry the dancers away with the money they just made.

    I think it's not out of line to ask that the bellydancers be portrayed as ladies during your scene. I do think it would make the show stronger than OMG, sexy dancers from nowhere!

    As for the crossdressing male dancer...it's a classic comic bit. Try to make the actor look good-I don't think there's ANY point in not cheesing that up.
    Last edited by da Sage; 07-02-2012 at 04:46 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    I say: Go for it!
    (And I also like da Sages suggestions..)

    I made a dance for a play once as well: The setting was quite simple, and some locals trying to please a visiting sheik with various forms of entertainment, such as line dance, salsa and more. To make the story short, he wasn't pleased until the last number (the belly dance act, big surprise, huh?). I made a super-easy choreography to some cheesy music (Emad Sayyah, probably Ma 'Zoufat Semiramis from this album, IIRC) for the 6 girls and did the soloist part as the mysterious veiled dancer myself (I think they learnt a lot during the process). I knew several people in the audience and got great feedback after the show, as they didn't expect me to dance as well as I actually did (to quote one of them: "Hey, she knows this dance, and does it well!"). I know the plot sounds cheesy, but at least it became a lot more classy than it would have been if I hadn't been involved.

    As long as you get good enough time with your dancers, it'll hopefully be fine.

    I've seen others that have gone with the stereotypes (including a "dancer" who got to learn the basic moves from a book with no knowledge of putting a dance or costume together), and it has been some truly awfully cringing experiences..

    And for music recommendations, do check out that Emad Sayyah album. It is a bit cheesy, but I think it may work well in that setting as well and even add a bit of comedy musicwise.
    --
    Daim.

  8. #8
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Thumbs up da Sage knows stage!

    I like the idea of having the bellydancers play it straight and having the pirates being the comic relief (I can't help but see Johnny Depp being the lead ham in drag!). xD

    Oh, gosh, a belly dancing Johnny Depp DOES sound intriguing!

    SETTLE down, little butterfly, SETTLE down...
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 07-02-2012 at 11:12 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Erik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farasha Hanem View Post
    (I can't help but see Johnny Depp being the lead ham in drag!). xD

    Oh, gosh, a belly dancing Johnny Depp DOES sound intriguing!
    Sorry to weasel in, Farasha. In case you didn't know, Johnny Depp does what you describe (well, sorta-kinda) in the film "Ed Wood."

    The character Depp played was a real man who happened to be a cross-dresser in real life, which made for an interesting subplot. The dancing may not have been the best, but it was a comedy scene, and he did it in the trappings of a female dancer.
    Last edited by Erik; 07-03-2012 at 08:02 AM.

  10. #10
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    If there are going to be pirates maybe a really accomplished sword dancer might be impressive.

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