“The Art of The Hips” fundraiser and debut of Atlanta’s new Middle Eastern dance troupe Les Raissat, premiered on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at Pera Dance Studio in Atlanta. The show featured choreography from Isis and Saniyah of Les Raissat, and guest performers from Atlanta’s belly dance community.
Doors opened at 7pm-ish, with patrons lingering in the halls waiting to get prime seating for the event. Reserved tables for sponsors and VIP patrons were in the front, with rows of seating behind. As people filed in, it was plain to see that this was going to be a full house- a wonderful thing to see for any planned event. The atmosphere was warm and cozy, with people mingling and renewing their acquaintances with dancers and supporters of the Raqs community.
Never expect a Middle Eastern/Asian event to start on time in Atlanta-this is just not going to happen-so plan accordingly by showing up at least a half hour late. This show started late as expected, but no more then 10-15 minutes past eight o’clock. Isis and Saniyah of Les Raissat began the show, performing a wonderfully lively piece called “Megansia.” The two moved beautifully with each other, in luminescent matching bedlahs, across the floor and under the flashing lights. Years of performing as troupe members in Bahiraat have kept them in sync with each other’s queues and movements. As the night progressed, each performance by Le Raissat, as troupe or soloist was heartfelt and full of “t’arab,” the spirit of Middle Eastern dance.
Special guest performers from the Atlanta Raqs Community were Kalinka, Cairo, Michelle, Amani Jabril, Galina, Ameera Johari and Raja Al Masraya. Each of these ladies put on stellar performances ranging from Beledi to Cabaret. The ladies were radiant. The music was lively and energizing. The audience was welcoming and appreciative, showering the performers with claps, calls and zaghareets.
During the intermission, a raffle was held for services, classes and prizes donated from local Atlanta businesses and supporters of the international community. Spokesperson and CEO of the Christine Marie Hunter Cancer Fund (CMH Cancer Fund), Nikki Wade, expressed her thanks to the audience for contributing to the fund. Wade explained how the fund came into existence and encouraged everyone to spread the word about CMH Cancer Fund, which helps support elderly cancer patients with necessities and small luxuries not covered by Medicare.
After the show, when all the ladies returned to the stage to take a bow with standing ovation, the music was turned up for the afterparty. Delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres and white wine cocktails were served plentifully from the beautifully decorated buffet table as people mingled about congratulating the beaming Saniyah and Isis on their success.
Sponsors of the event were ARE Auto, Bellydance By Samora, DonJanelle Hair Spa, Jaki-Hawthorne Photography, Pera Studios, Twist Restaurant and Urban Temple Spa.
The incredible amount of talent and planning that went into “The Art of The Hips” more than made up for the tardiness in starting the show. This show was worth the wait. Not only did the Atlanta Raqs community come together to raise money for a good cause, but also to welcome and celebrate the long awaited dreams of two remarkable women. Isis is queenly and graceful. Saniyah is sensual and powerful. Performing together or apart, the ladies of Les Raissat are worthy of attention, with dramatic choreography and soul that captures the heart of the Middle East. Atlanta welcomes Les Raissat with open arms and we look forward to seeing more from this aspiring troupe.