The Austin Chronicle

Are We on the Edge?

Answers to timely and timeless questions at the Long Fringe

By Wayne Alan Brenner, January 30, 2004, Arts

How to Belly-Dance for Your Husband Starring Little Egypt

Tongue and Groove Theatre

Running Time: 45 min

This is the latest offering from Tongue and Groove Theatre, which has a history of providing FronteraFest material as well as larger, independent productions. I'm thinking specifically of their Le Petomane: Anatomy of a Fartiste, which started as a Long Fringe work, then went on to its own run later, and was a surprisingly good – and surprisingly genteel – biographical musical of the titular character. Here now is another celebrity from days gone by: Little Egypt, the belly-dancing sensation of the 1893 Colombian Exposition. But this show doesn't quite succeed. The beginning of How to Belly-Dance starts off delightfully enough, with three early-American salarymen chasing after and making simulated whoopee with their pretty wives; this coital choreography, set to the music of Rossini & Grieg, is like something directed by Chuck Jones and Preston Sturges. But when we get to the part where the wives are taught belly dancing by three incarnations of Little Egypt, the show falls kind of flat. Not that the dancers aren't compelling with their rak sharki moves (because mrowwwl, basically), just that the dialogue and the interactions are less than seriously engaging, but neither is pushed far enough to work as parody. The performers – the men, the women – give it a good, talented go. But even they can't much improve what presents as a handful of sesame-flavored cotton candy.

(Thursday, Jan. 29, 7pm; Sunday, Feb. 1, 2pm)

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