DANCE: Suraya Hilal Queen Elizabeth Hall, SBC, London
Friday 12 September 1997
In her latest show, Spirit of the Heart, Hilal is flanked by a singer and six musicians. Those playing Egyptian instruments wear white robes and headdresses, the others sport double-breasted pinstripes like a trio of jaunty gangsters. Hilal has assembled a fine troupe and much of the drama of her performance rests on the interplay of improvised music and dance that is at the core of the urban folk tradition of Baladi. The non- dance highlight of the first half is an exhausting solo by Mustafa Abdel Aziz on the Arghul, which makes a haunting sound like a melancholy kazoo. The musician smiled with cheery embarrassment at the ovation that saluted his tour de force.
His virtuosity was instantly matched by Hilal herself. She was sumptuously sheathed in a red and gold dress whose fabric highlighted the play of her thighs, buttocks and belly as they quivered like a heat haze. Her ample torso and abdomen perform marvels of independent suspension while her arms languidly described circles in the air and her proud head remained stock still.
Much of this will be familiar to those who saw her pack Sadler's Wells in 1992 but the latest show has incorporated some new elements. In the first half Hilal is joined by a male dancer Ibrahim el Minyawi who does an unnerving routine with a large wooden pole. With his flowing white robes and debonair Ronald Colman moustache he makes a dashing partner for her in a traditional Sai'di dance.
The programme's other innovation is included in the third section of the evening when Hilal performs some Sufi and Thikr ritual dances on an incense-filled stage to the chants of the Moulid festivals that commemorate the saints and prophets. The mood here is far more intense with none of the arch smiles that punctuated the earlier dances. The sequence culminates in the extraordinary African trance dance in which Hilal wheels about the stage, her loosened hair flicking back and forth and her long skirt billowing around her like the wavy bell of a petunia.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Three million books were judged by their covers - this is what happened
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Jamie’s Sugar Rush, TV review: Defeated by school dinners, Oliver takes on a new enemy
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees