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Caracalla Dance Theater at the Wolf Trap

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Beirut-based Caracalla Dance Theater made a stop at the Wolf Trap (near DC). OK, this stop was WAY back in June. CDT bills itself as a Middle Eastern arts organization, but a quick glance at a borrowed program (they ran out, so I didn't get one) revealed quite a few Russian-sounding names and a few names that were clearly Chinese (and even without a program it was obvious that some of the dancers were Russian). It is basically a modern dance company, though there were elements of ballet included (but not pointe dancing).

The program was titled "1001 Nights", and, yes, it was inspired by that piece of literature. There were three acts. The first loosely told the story of why the Sultan becoming so enraged by women that he had all his wives executed, though it had far more dance than was needed to tell the story. This act was danced to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade". A significant portion of the dancing used a very large ensemble. The choreography was entertaining, but I kept thinking that a number of opportunities for virtuosic (sp?) dance riffs were missed. The second act was about an evening in a Middle Eastern cafe during the time period that "1001 Nights" was set. This act was danced an unusually arranged and instrumented rendition of Ravel's "Bolero". Here, the choreography was opened up and the dancers were more free to show off their skills, with fewer dancers cluttering up the stage. The final act told of a remote way station, where people from different cultures stop to take a break from their travels. This went still farther in paring down the numbers so that individual dancers could be highlighted. The music apparently was Lebanese folk songs; at least it was some type of folk music that seemed to hold a deep meaning to a segment of the audience.

I found it more enjoyable than most of the other modern dance performances that I've attended. At least it consisted mainly of actual dancing. One thing no other modern dance company has come close to matching is the costumes. Actually, I've seen few ballets that could match the costumes.

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Thank you for posting, YouOverThere. I did not know of this company. Has anyone else seen them?

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