When someone said they were going to go to the circus tonight, I ditched my plan of watching The Aviator alone and got
myself in a taxi, more than ready to terrify screaming children along with the clowns. We never made it to the circus, however, somehow missing the big top and going to another venue close by that houses the National Folk Dance Troupe. Since anything with folk dance is bound to be a good time, our night ended up being well worth the entrance fee and initial confusion.
The show promptly began forty minutes late, but it made up for the initial annoyance by being incredibly long. Most of the evening consisted of crowded dance numbers with gaudy costumes covered in more sequins and tassels than you could shake a stick at, the ladies swiveling their hips like they were trying to get a rabid beaver to release their right buttocks and the men sometimes shaking actual sticks. The dances were certainly not authentic Egyptian, but they won first place in Drevets’ book for use of agricultural props, such as water jugs and sieves. The award in unnatural costume design went to the number right before intermission for its use of neon orange and green spandex in the ladies’ costumes, using it in a style boldly combining eighties aerobic wear, sixties bell bottoms, and mermaid themes.
The highlight of the night, however, by general consensus with myself, was the horsey puppet dance. The black horse puppet wore a loosely crocheted, neon colored harness and reign apparatus that contrasted nicely with the slick of green and sequins the woman donned from her head to her toe. I do not know of any Egyptian tradition in which women flirt with life size horse puppets or real horses, but apparently the ritual is quite extensive and quite real. The horse (two men in a horse costume) was by far the stand out performer of the night, nuzzling its snout and prancing its paws with incredible humorous dexterity, outshining the woman who also pranced about and slapped the ground with a stick. And then the night got awesome.
The black horse descended into the sparsely populated auditorium and bothered people, pretending to bite people’s shoulders and giving girls kisses on the cheek, something especially loved by the older ladies who expressed their pleasure by wagging their fingers at the horse and trying to shove it away. One lucky girl even got pulled up to the front of the room and was forced to dance with the horse. She was a good sport about it, though not as good of a dancer as the horse.
Though I caught myself saying “Is this still going? Ah yes, it is,” a number of times after zoning back in during yet another belly dance (though they certainly were impressive the first fifty times), long after everything had sunk into a haze of bright colors and amateurish dancing, it was still a quite enjoyable night. I really wish the whole thing had been done with puppets though. I also wish I had my camera…must steal pictures from friend.