Dalia Carella Dance Collective: Transparency

Dalia Carella has star power. Performing a highly original fusion of Middle Eastern, modern, and other world dance forms, she bewitches her spectators, while seeming to excite herself, with a sizzling allure that is almost frightening. One dare not look away for even a moment as her curvaceous body slinks, vibrates, and rolls, and her long black hair flies around, framing deep, dark eyes that snare us in their gaze.

"Transparency," the evening of Carella's choreography presented at HERE Arts Center, soared whenever Carella was on stage. In "Dunyavi Gypsy (Roma) Dance," she inventively combines traditional gypsy movements with arm gestures from different cultures, skillfully manipulating a hand drum through seductive curving patterns, then letting a giddy energy electrify her fingers, and finally mesmerizing us with lyrical gestural language. In the finale, "El Abanico de Fuego," she titillatingly works a Spanish fan and swirling skirt. But why does she perform her closer to music that fades at the end? It forced her choreography to fizzle out rather than build to a climax.

Carella's program opened with "The Offering"--a trio in which the fusion of moves and moods from Indian and Middle Eastern dance is wonderfully clear--and also included "Guardians of the Styx," an entertaining narrative ensemble piece that recalls Broadway's dream ballet approach to storytelling through movement. A belly-dance duet, "Leilat Hob," choreographed and performed by Kaeshi Chai and Amar Gamal, and "Tray Dance," choreographed and amazingly performed by Chai while balancing lit candles atop her head, added handsomely to the evening.

The program's only disappointments were the attempts to fuse Middle Eastern dance with jazz, African, and samba styles in numbers performed by young dancers who lacked Carella's authoritative stage presence. While the music for "Samarabesque" effectively fuses Egyptian and Brazilian rhythms, the choreography is simply cheesy. "I Put a Spell on You" 's mixture of jazz and Arabic sensibilities needed a performer more capable of interpreting the dance's campy personality. And the seams connecting the jazz steps to African moves in "Flames of the Serengetti," pertly performed by Sigrid Aarons, were all too evident.