The gold, the silk, the magical clink of finger cymbals…the enchanting world of Middle Eastern Dance.
Carol Tandava Henning brings to the stage a personal journey that does not stop moving in physical or cerebral space. In this theater work, the mind and the body are truly one. In the Western world, bellydancing calls up sexualized images of bachelor parties or extras in a Cecil B. DeMille biblical film.
Yet Tandava’s piece comes out of agony — art is always born from suffering in one way or another. With wit and humor she traces her personal journey into bellydancing as well as the dance's authentic cultural roots and positive effects on both body and soul.
The multi-disciplined, Brooklyn-born actor/writer/bellydancer Carol Henning — stage name Tandava — Sansrkit for the god Shiva’s dance of destruction and rebirth — went from ballet shoes at five to stand-up comedy in her teens, to T. Schreiber and several NYC theater companies in her 20s, but had to leave the stage when struck with a traumatic abdominal injury at age 30.
The corrective surgery, exacerbated by the lower back disc herniation, limited her mobility and caused severe scarring inside and out. Nothing in western medicine restored her health or mobility, nor did yoga, pilates, or tai chi. But when Tandava began taking SharQui—the Bellydance Workout®, a fitness-based bellydance method, her appreciation for her body changed; she developed strength, deep physical and emotional awareness, and a new understanding of body-image, beauty, and the healing power of dance.
And this was just the beginning of Carol Tandava’s fascinating journey into Middle Eastern dance and culture.
The show comprises seven discrete parts, each detailing inner and outer journeys, revelations, insights, and triumphs:
I. Origin Story — The love of dance and struggle with self-acceptance. Illness, recovery, and rebirth through the art of Oriental Dance.
II. The Body’s Language — Learning to listen to the body, finding its wisdom and courage.
III. Zamalek Adventure — A wild romp through the streets of Cairo searching for Ramon’s mysterious party.
IV. Fan Veils and Candles and Canes, Oh My! — Exploring the many styles of bellydance, both Middle Eastern and its American derivations, along with an exciting Parade of Props, showcasing familiar and unusual bellydance props and techniques, culminating in an exciting traditional Egyptian Raks Assaya (cane dance).
V. Dark Goddess — A family-friendly bellydance gig goes bad when the restaurant is overrun by underage barbarians who can’t keep their hands to themselves….
VI. The Purpose of the Dance — Journey back in time to the Victorian colonial era to learn the true roots of Middle Eastern dance, and how it became sexualized by the European influence.
VII. Eat, Run, Dance, Love — A mad dash through the disorienting streets of Taiwan teaches that, no matter how lost we feel, with faith and steady confidence we will always end up exactly where we need to be.
Every performance features an engaging emcee to guide you through the evening of theatrical storytelling and three or more exquisite guest bellydancers of varying ages, backgrounds, shapes, sizes — male and female — who perform a variety of styles including Egyptian, Turkish, Folkloric, Iraqi, American Tribal, American Cabaret, Fusion, and more!
Written and Choreographed by Carol Tandva Henning. Directed by Jeffrey Fiske (The Screwtape Letters, Boudica).
Promotional text written by Tim Ranney of Colonnade Projects and Carol Henning.