by Amber Clontz
The multicultural performances on display during the Big Bad Ass Belly Dance Show at Visual Arts Collective on Saturday, Feb. 4, were an awakening of the senses—a show that made me want to find my roots or abandon them. During the first minute of In Joy’s breath-halting belly-dancing act, it took a quick search of the crowd for a cowboy hat for me to realize the show wasn’t taking place in Ghana.
“Boise—who knew? It should be on the license plates,” joked local artist Jaki Katz Ashford about how wonderful it is to be exposed to subcultures the Treasure Valley.
“A Klezmer band in Idaho,” the native New Yorker continued, “this is a wild-ass time.”
A similar reaction rippled through the packed VAC.
“This show is incredibly advanced,” said local author Gloria Skurzynski. “I came last year, too, and out of 100 percent, I am again 150 percent satisfied.”
The audience and dancers doubled as percussionists in the standing-room-only crowd. Easily motivated to clapping and yelling, the crowd drank up the Old World vibe of Fleet Street Klezmer Band.
As orchestra music began, the crowd’s mood shifted accordingly. Laura Baker, who had come to see her friend’s son perform said: “The classical belly dancing to the ballet and opera music, I had no idea what to expect.”
Speaking of the unexpected, another performance included a dancer balancing a sword on her hip during a backbend, in what looked like an extra scene from Kill Bill. Though it was a toss-up whether dancing with a sword was more dangerous than luring a giant snake from a basket—a boa sans feathers—both acts made solid contributions to the “bad-ass” claim the show made.
Flamenco band District 19 took to the stage as I left VAC. The show lasted three hours, and aside from a 10-minute break, not more than 30 seconds passed between acts.
Outside, it was February after all. The piercing cold solidified my thoughts of escaping to a warmer Middle East. Thinking of the intricate leather, mesh, satin and sequined costumes, I realized Cecilia Rinn and Myra Krien’s remarkable show will leave me dreaming of finger cymbals and beautiful women for the next 364 days.