Live Shots: Belly Dance Show and Kardash, Red Poppy Art House, 2/10/11

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I'm all for intimate venues and performances -- and the shows at the tiny Red Poppy Art House literally happen in your lap -- but it's kinda scary when the performers are wielding huge swords and you wonder if you'll go home missing the tip of your nose.

Luckily, these blade-brandishing belly dancers knew what they were doing and even though there were several sharp shiny weapons balancing precariously on the head of a dancer at one point, just about two feet from my face, I felt OK.

The performance at Red Poppy not only featured belly dancing, but also the groovy fusion beats of Kardash and several of their musical friends. Their sound had a Middle Eastern flare to it and there was one moment that stuck with me the most during the show. One musician played the tambourine for a piece with such precision, isolating the drum and then the bells around the edge of the instrument, that it created a totally foreign sound like nothing I've ever heard before. It was truly beautiful.

The dancers also showed their considerable talents, especially Elizabeth Strong in a dance titled “Mata Hari,” about the infamous exotic dancer who was also a spy. Donning red lilies in her hair, Strong started the dance very slowly, creating a mesmerizing concoction of mystery and movement, but ended with a feverish mix of whirling hips and flying scarves.

And guess what? At the end of the night, I left with all my “Jewish princess nose” (as my mother likes to call it) fully intact.