Updated April 7, 2022
Fire Spinning! Dancing! Circus Arts! Acrobatics! Comic Books!….and Belly Dancing? !!@#EE GAD!*#&!!
The performance art collective known as “Raks Geek” turns traditional belly dancing on its ear with this month’s installment of its theatrical spectacle, “Raks Inferno,” at the Newport Theatre (formerly Links Hall) in Wrigleyville this Friday, April 8th. (See details below.)
The unique hybrid performance art spectacle “Raks Inferno” brings together a stellar company of five virtuoso soloists, each with a unique performance niche. This month’s program creates the atmosphere of a speakeasy to showcase each of the five core company members as soloists performing their own pieces. Audiences are invited into a welcoming, casual atmosphere of inclusiveness and fun.
They meet where belly dancing intersects fire spinning, modern American dance forms, Flamenco, hip-hop, middle eastern folk dance, classical Indian dance, jazz, ballet, and acrobatics.
In a recent phone interview with SeeChicagoDance, Artistic director and company founder Dawn Xiana Moon characterized her use of belly dancing as “a modern fusion.” It’s not surprising that Moon, a singer-dancer-songwriter-musician, would evolve a theatrical expression that incorporates her many talents and interests in a synthesis of art forms, cultures, and idioms.
Born in Singapore of Malaysian and Chinese heritage, she has experienced many “cross-currents” in her life. Her family emigrated to a suburb of Detroit when she was just five years old. She began dancing at the University of Michigan, where she majored in theatre. Having taught swing dance for years, “I was into blues and body isolations and was curious about how belly dancing fit into that. I went to YouTube and found Stephanie Barto of “Read My Hips” in Chicago.” After studying with Barto, Moon eventually reinvented herself as a “fusion bellydancer,” which led to “Raks Geek,” a largely Asian/American LGBTQ collective of performance artists.
Gaea Lady is a burlesque artist especially drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and mythology.
Lee Na-Moo combines bellydance with contemporary dance, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and several Asian styles. He is a member of the Joel Hall Dancers and a lover of all things geek.
Michi Trota is a fire spinner on stage but off-stage, serves as editor-in-chief of “Science Fiction & Fantasy” magazine. She is also a life-long geek and foodie.
Kamrah is a research scientist by day and bellydancer by night. They have won numerous martial arts competitions and call themself “basically a superhero.”
Raks Geek creates a new and different show each month. The artists make their own costumes, and occasionally engage musicians to perform live with them, but most of the music is pre-recorded, some original, composed by Moon and other musical collaborators.
On its website, the company defines itself as “by geeks for geeks,” and consists of “fire spinners, belly dancers, and circus artists,” presenting themes from “nerd culture,” and boasting programs where “sexy meets badass.”
You get the picture. Maybe. But for my money, you gotta see it!
Raks Inferno presents An Intimate Circus Cabaret on Friday at the Newport Theater, 956 W Newport Ave. Tickets start at $29 and are available by clicking the event page below.