DANCE ORIGINS: Middle East and United States GENRE: Belly Dance Fusion ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Shabnam First Appearance in SF EDF: 2007 Website:www.shabnamdancecompany.com
Persian-American Shabnam Shirvani is
a multi award-winning, critically acclaimed performer, internationally
recognized for bringing athleticism to belly dance with forward-thinking,
groundbreaking choreographies. A pioneer of modern movement in belly dance, she
is creator of a comprehensive training system for dancers wanting to dance on
theatrical stages. An in-demand performer, she performs at weddings and
high-profile events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
ORIGIN: Middle East and US GENRE: Belly Dance TITLE: Arabian Ostrich: Plumes, Maqsoom and Doumbek Tunes CHOREOGRAPHER/SOLOIST: Shabnam Shirvani MUSICIANS:
Mandanah Gallegos (drum, finger
cymbals), Dawn Harrell (drum), Jules Huang (drum) Karimah Keene (drum), Heaven
Mousalem (lead musician - drum), Paula Mitchell (drum), Deidre Quick (drum,
finger cymbals), Karen Torres (drum)
Shabnam Shirvani presents Arabian Ostrich: Plumes, Maqsoom, and
Doumbek Tunes, a performance of US belly dance fusion that pays homage to
the now-extinct Arabian ostrich. The piece also honors the themes of balance,
rebirth, and lightness of the heart.
For centuries Middle Eastern
dance—it is called by various names including raks sharqi or belly dance—has been
performed by women to mark the ceremonies of life. The stage form, with its
two-part beladi costume, was developed in Cairo clubs in the mid-1900s. Today,
many US omen, including Shabnam, present this stage form with a feminist
philosophy: to express the sensuality and power of a mature woman.
Shabnam is known for her open,
balletic, and physically demanding choreographies. This theatrical presentation
of an animal is also a western approach. It’s inspired by observing ostriches
and by an illustration of the “camel bird” from the amazing 9th-century Book of Animals by Arabic scholar Al-Jahiz. The central theme of the piece,
honoring the ostrich as a symbol of balance, endurance, and
spiritual renewal, comes from Ancient Egypt. It wasbelieved the goddess Ma’at weighed
the heart after death. Anyone whose heart was lighter than an ostrich feather could enter
Shabnam brings alive the ostrich
with snaking arms, hair tosses, and backbends. Her movements refer to the
bird’s strength and speed, its wild and beautiful mating dance, and its
stunning presence and majesty.
The glamorous black and white
costume honors the Arabian ostrich in an Orientale theatrical style, with
jeweled neckpiece, feathers, and yin-yang colors. The musicians’ costumes are based on Egyptian raqs sharqi dress
of mid 20th-century, the era of the last sightings of the Arabian ostrich.
Egyptian percussive rhythms include
the soulful 4/4 saidi, maqsoom, the earthy beledi, and the enchanting 10/8
samai, a rhythm common to classical Egyptian compositions. Instruments are the
goblet doumbek drum; bell-shaped sagat finger cymbals; and the tambourine.
TITLE:Way of the Sea – Progression SOLOIST: Shabnam
To Iranians, bellydance is raghse-Arabi, a dance of
endless variations and interpretations, emerging from one of the
oldest forms of Middle Eastern dance. It’s believed to be rooted
in ancient fertility ceremonies, and it’s performed at family and
community celebrations throughout the Middle East to bring the
blessing of procreation, children, and wealth.
Shabnam celebrates 21st-century independence within her beloved Persian tradition in this belly dance inspired by
the Red Sea. In Way of The Sea - Progression the dancer’s
rippling movement reflects the complex beauty of water, and the
pace shows a dignified modern approach to a baladi
progression, a three-part song that traditionally builds in energy. As
the quiet movement of water builds to the broad sweep of waves, so
does a young girl pass from insecurity to a woman’s
self-confidence and a celebration of feminine sensual energy. Shabnam’s
style is known for its physical rigor. Her custom-designed
costume mirrors shimmering water and billowing waves and it
accents her rapid, intricate hip and belly isolations.
Title:Way of the
Sea – Progression Soloist:
To Iranians, bellydance is raghse-Arabi, a dance of endless
variations and interpretations, emerging from one of the oldest forms of
Eastern dance. It's believed to be rooted in ancient fertility
it's performed at family and community celebrations throughout the
to bring the blessing of procreation, children, and wealth.
Shabnam celebrates twenty-first century independence within
her beloved Persian tradition in this belly dance inspired by the Red Sea. In Way of The Sea - Progression the dancer's rippling movement reflects the complex beauty of water, and
the pace shows a dignified modern approach to a baladi progression, a
three-part song that traditionally builds in energy. As the quiet movement of
water builds to the broad sweep of waves, so does a young girl pass from insecurity
to a woman's self-confidence and a celebration of feminine sensual energy.
Shabnam's style is known for its physical rigor. Her custom-designed costume
mirrors shimmering water and billowing waves and it accents her rapid,
intricate hip and belly isolations.
TITLE: Demoiselle Crane SOLOIST: Shabnam
Demoiselle Crane showcases Shabnam's signature modern belly dance fusion. Her choreography honors a small grey and white crane—a bird that migrates thousands of miles between East Asia and South Asia or Africa, and has a balletic dancing display. The dance begins with whirlwind spins and a billowing veil, as the bird begins its flight. Then—to the melody of a Turkish violin—the dancer invokes the balletic movements of the crane, using slow and flowing movements, and exaggerated arm gestures and body bends. Finally, as the crane completes her journey, Shabnam performs lightning-speed shimmies and hip undulations, to the pulsing rhythms of modern Egyptian percussion.
Demoiselle Crane was created and choreographed in 2007 by Shabnam, and this is its world premiere. Shabnam describes this dance as "Feathers, Fusion, Flair and Femininity." She designed, hand-sewed, and beaded her costume, finding inspiration in the crane's silver and white body and black neck markings. This choreography—based on the observation of an animal—is a distinctly western approach. Shabnam chose the crane to show how Middle Eastern dance is migrating to the future, and to show respect for femininity and athleticism of the Middle Eastern form.
TITLE:Flame - Calling of the Future SOLOIST: Shabnam MUSICIANS: Mark Bell, Ling Shien Bell, Pat Bogel
The type of belly dance that is seen most often is the cabaret style
popular in Middle Eastern restaurants throughout the United States where
curvaceous women dance in glittering costumes with exposed bellies.
Mingling with feminist philosophy, belly dance has taken a particular
stronghold amongst women in the United States; many see it as a means to
express the sensuality and power of being a mature woman.
Soloist Shabnam, presents a belly dance fusion piece performed to modern Egyptian music. A predominantly self-taught dancer, her technique incorporates intense athleticism combining acrobatic movements, repetitive spinning, sweeping arm gestures, strong hip locks, and extended arabesques. In her Festival debut, Shabnam presents a deeply personal three-part suite called, Flame – Calling of the Future. The first piece uses a whirlwind of silk veils and dervish-inspired spinning to symbolize feminine joy and inner calling. The second piece explores the masculine energy within while using a sword, while the finale, demonstrates where hips and percussion unite, symbolizing the unification of feminine and masculine energies.