House of Tarab with Ruby, Anyelle & Delilah: April 22nd at the Blue Horse Gallery

Seattle’s House of Tarab lines the small stage at the Blue Horse filling the room with evocative Arabic music. There is a full house. The music continues to build as Delilah, the first dancer, begins with a beautiful traditional style, a golden sash wound round her, smiling the entire time. Dancing as seduction, ritualized prayer movements. Like watching a bird or a flower slowly blooming. Then the ache of David McGrath’s breathy Nai flute, Erik Brown’s slow tabla drum, Andy Zadrozny’s soft bass, followed by more revelations in the dance. By the time the band begins the third song with percussive whomps and snakelike riffs on the Nai, the crowd is clapping and hollering out encouraging ululations. The band is chanting hypnotically. The dancer is burning like a star at the still point.
The next piece begins with Tracy Helming’s violin opening up the soul slowly over a winding drone. The dancer a curving odalisque. The crowd frozen like statues, the dancer moving under the tent of the sky, under ancient evening light. The dancer rolling up against the rhythm like waves licking the sides of a boat, hands stretched up to the heavens and fluttering down like birds, like rain, like falling stars.
Next up is Anyelle from Bellingham. Entering with hand cymbals and a huge smile, she moves sinuously and slower, arching up and back. The hand cymbals accenting the music, now full of eastern echoes and sighs, hands clicking though the air with mysterious percussive sound. Twirling now with a blue scarf, a turning blue sky wave contained in the soft choral intonations of the band. At times the dancer slows down within the music, moving slow motion and slower as the music burns around them, a flame of movement frozen within the center of the fire.
Next piece is a beautiful Oud solo by Stephen Elaimy. A haunting sound, the eastern tunings, amazing playing. It is as if the player is moving the dancer through the scales, plucking the strings to move her arms, legs, head through an intimate musical relationship. Beautiful and strangely poignant. Then, tabla drum rolls and trills and cries from the crowd as the dancer floats across the floor in a rhythmic series of shivers, curves and shimmies. The drums rolling out soft thunder as the dancer pops like lightning.
The last dancer is Ruby. Enters with spins and cymbals. Fiery red with swirling hair. Exuding exotic sensuality. The music with beautiful time signature breaks. Ruby’s hand cymbals working like chains. There is a sense of something dangerous on the floor. Dancing with blood, Kali Ma moving amidst the bones, dancing the skin off the skeleton, turning like a dervish, like a wheel of desire, waves of blood spilling off the dress and splattering the mesmerized crowd, snake like formulations entrancing, hypnotizing, voluptuous turns with a diaphanous red scarf like a mist of blood. Sublime musical intonations from the band, monk-like chanting, the scarves now like razors cutting through the air, the room bathed in red, forms catching the light and turning it down into deep sensual shadow movements amidst the soft carnal music. There are hieroglyphs of desire and beauty in the air.