Fakarouni- by Orly Portal. Suzanne Dellal, August 26

Free spirited dancer and teacher Orly Portal has been part of the local dance scene's fring for a long time and is best known for her interest in Oriental dance, often referred to as Belly Dance, on which she developed her own interpretation, and became her stylistic niche.  In recent years she worked to stretch her lexicon by adopting components from other disciplines.  

Fakarouni  (think of me, in Arabic) is a very famous song of the late Umm Kulthum' repertoire. Although she passed away a quarter of a century ago, she is still considered as a national icon in Egypt and beyond. Yet, Portal who created Fakarouni as an homage to her, goes on a  different artistic path which doesn't always reflects the values that the revered artist had represented and Portal's own stage persona may challenge Umm Kulthum traditional devotees.   Through a short old film projected on stage, Umm Kulthum comes across as an elegant, self retrained performer, which elevated the traditional music into a higher, more sophisticated level.

Portal was set to explore her own performance goals. She starts by bringing on stage for the first time, three energetic contemporary male dancers that came from varied dance disciplines, far from her own comfort zone. Most of the evening, the dancers; Anderson, Estman and Zohar totally ruled the stage with fast flowing moves based on delightful  whirling and twirling jumps and rich quick silver position changes. The dancers had grace and improvisational skills that kept us interested in their rapid shifting compositions tinted with Oriental innuendoes of a sensuous nature.

Portal herself showed up much later when the dancers rested on percussion boxes called Kajon. From that moment on, Portal took over the show and left hardly any room for her dance partners. Yes, they were still on stage but were used for practical purposes, portrayed as her admirers. Portal, aware of her obvious presence, used it to switch Fakarouni  from an enjoyable stage dance into a juicy act of 'Hafla', (Arabic for an informal party ). Being highly charged, she played directly to the audience, encouraging them stand up and clap ecstatically to the music, while she shook her hips and rubbed her bosom, encouraged by the aroused audience.  

Unfortunately Fakarouni had a real promising potential but failed artistically since Portal succumbed to a line of populist judgments and as a result, she also wronged  her own dancers.