Search This Blog


Monday, May 21, 2012

Classic Cassandra - Review of "Cassandra Live" DVD, Vol. 1

"Classic Cassandra" in "Cassandra Live!" DVD - Elegant, Intelligent, Witty!

Let me just come out and say this right away: I just love Cassandra! I've been to her Oasis workshops a couple of times, and have treasured the videos (yes, it was video technology back then). I've studied them time and again, shown them to my students time and again, and am very much in danger of wearing them out.

So it's been a healthy and refreshing step to finally get copies of her two performance vids, remastered into DVD format, Cassandra Live!.

Three things characterize Cassandra's work: Her ebullient, effervescent joie de vivre, her magical sense of humor and whimsy, and her natural grace combined with flowing and connected movements. Taken together, it's no wonder that she's widely regarded as one of the world's greatest exemplars of classic Oriental dance.

This collection of seven dances presents the full gamut of early Cassandra dance styles, ranging from a well-crafted opening Danse Oriental to a deeply moving and dramatic Zar (folkloric dance depicting an exorcism ritual). For a tongue-in-cheek approach, there's the witty take on the early (mid-1980's) rock videos, "A Atala Khadra."

My absolute favorite, though, for showing Cassandra at her warmest, wittiest, and most tongue-in-cheek best, is her second "Danse Orientale" piece (Cut #6), shot in an outdoor location (possibly an early Minneapolis Renaissance Fair). Her "zill duel" with the drummer is both funny and technically inspiring. Her dance, done with live musicians in the relaxed and comfortable setting of a summer festival, is both lively and relaxed, technically flawless and yet supremely comfortable and endearing.

This is why I watch Cassandra - performing as Cassandra Live - time and again.

Her DVD is available through her company website,, although not yet on Amazon. On her website, she offers a 1 1/2 minute "sample clip" - from her "Drum Solo" (Cut #2). Lively and upbeat, this "Drum Solo" gives a great sense of how to improvise with the music, show a full range of emotional expression, and create an exciting moment with the audience. Careful study will reveal many little technical details and subtleties that will enrich the practice of any dancer.

P.S. Cassandra has had hip surgery, and is requesting support from the dance community until she is "back on her feet" once again. Honor Cassandra, and yourself, by supporting her - visit the Cassandra page on the Jawaahir website, and contribute generously today!

No comments: