Excellent Blog Post by journalist Jenny O'Brien
Review of "Ethiopia Dances for Joy" from the Video Librarian
Dance instructor Tamalyn Dallal’s latest ethnographic program aimed at students of dance and culture (see review of Zanzibar: Dance, Trance & Devotion in VL-1/12) travels to Ethiopia to document na- tive costumes, customs, and dances. While teaching Middle Eastern dance at a circus school in the city-state of Addis Ababa, Dallal films their routines. Using simple props such as balls, hats, and ropes, the students defy gravity in solo and double configurations. Dallal also visits the Hager Fikir Theatre Dance Company, whose dancers perform pieces representing nine different regions, including the northeastern desert area of Afar, home to the world’s highest temperatures (the performance here features intimidating props such as long knives and automatic weapons). The traditional accompanying music incorporates flute, drums, and stringed instruments such as the lyre-like krar. From
Addis Ababa, Dallal heads north to Tigrinya, a pilgrimage destination, and west to Harar, where the elaborate preparations for Easter (“Fasika”) are in progress. In the former capital city of Gonder, she observes an Am- haric dance in which participants imitate ecstatic chickens with rapid head, neck, and chest movements. Most of the people Dallal encounters are Christian or Muslim, except in Gonder where she stops at the Beta Israel village of Wolleka. Ethiopia Dances for Joy! is not a conventional documentary, but Dallal does provide plenty of context here both through voiceover narration and onscreen text, making this an engaging cultural travel guide. Recommended. (K. Fennessy)
Portland, Maine, June 2011- Solstice Spectacular
Rosa Noreen hosted Tamalyn Dallal for a weekend of workshops, private lessons, and, on the evening of June 11, a variety show, Solstice Spectacular, featuring performances from Tamalyn, Rosa, and several other area artists.
Finishing out the first act, Tamalyn took the stage. Ms. Dallal's unique take on double veil work was enough to solidify her standing as one of the world's top belly dancers in my book. I don't know if she came up with the techniques on her own, if she did double kudos! Even if the technique was borrowed, the execution was intriguing and captivating. She moved subtly, lucidly, and gracefully, gliding across the stage in an enviable way.
To close the show, Tamalyn Dallal performed a sword piece with grace and precision, at one point appearing to float across the floor doing a vivid and crisp shimmy, all while balancing a sword atop her head. I want to give a personal shout out to her head slides, and I know the woman sitting next to me grabbed my arm at one point and said, "You better write about her hands!" Indeed! Tamalyn has beautiful energy that runs through her hands; an unmistakable sign of a dancer devoted to knowing her body and her art!
Jan/Feb 2012 Videolibrarian Journal Zanzibar: Trance, Dance, & Devotion
(2011) 80 min. DVD: $39.95. Dance on Film. PPR. ISBN: 978-09795155-9-0.
This collection features 26 live performances shot in Zanzibar, a largely Muslim island state in Tanzania. As filmmaker, cinematographer, and dancer Tamalyn Dallal explains in the introduction, she worked with the folkloric troupe Kariako for two years to compile the material. Throughout, Dallal provides unobtrusive commentary regarding the steps, costumes, languages, instruments, and facial markings (such as paint and piercings). Subtitles translate the lyrics, which can be amusing, as in “You are skinny, but you are arrogant” and “If you have a funny head, the hairdresser has trouble.” For the people of this East African territory, each dance holds a distinct significance, although Dallal admits that even the participants in the Mwanandege ritual have no idea why umbrellas are involved; nonetheless, they feel strongly about preserving such traditions. Other dances recognize or celebrate sexuality, marriage, harvest, rites of passage, political ceremonies, and the treatment of diseases (fortunately for viewers who may be animal lovers, Dallal doesn’t film the killing of a chicken for the Kilua dance). For the most part, these aren’t particularly difficult or complex routines, but there’s plenty of joy throughout, with the possible exception of the trance sequences, which involve sheitans (spirits) who seem to possess some performers. Before her final edit, Dallal showed each tribe or village her footage to make sure she had represented each aspect correctly. DVD extras include a filmed segment of an acrobatic display that draws from Chinese traditions. A fine multidisciplinary title that incorporates history, religion, geography, and ethnomusicology, this is recommended. (K. Fennessy)