Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Alverno College Egyptian Dinner, Oct. 19

Alverno College, a Catholic women’s college near our home, has an interesting community outreach program. Among more usual arts and lit part-time classes open to the public, they host a themed dinner each semester. For a reasonable price, you get quite a good meal and some appropriate cultural program. This semester’s offering was Egyptian, and had an enticing menu plus a performance by the Trisha (name added after comment below) Mideastern dance troupe, one which has been around Milwaukee for twenty or so years, and which frequently appears at the Holiday Folk Fair, among other venues.

The meal was excellent, starting off with a very good hummus and whole wheat pita bread, and a salad of chickpeas, olives, avocado and capers with a lemon-oil dressing. Main courses were served buffet style and included an Egyptian roast chicken with figs, couscous with currants, roast eggplant with rice, and a nicely spiced white fleshed fish. All were very good, and followed by a substantial hunk of chocolate cake (reflecting a French influence on modern Egyptian cooking). We were well fed.

There were nine dancers (out of a possible twenty—the others, including the teacher, were busy on a week night--) who appeared in their costumes from the last Folk Fair, which were beledi dresses of modest cut, but made of fuchsia spangled fabric, with matching headdresses, sheer sleeves, and dark patterned harem pants underneath. The dancers wore soft ballet slippers on their feet as well. The spokeswoman explained a number of terms, including that “beledi” means “folk” as in folk dance. The dances included a “two hanky dance” or flirting dance; the sword dance; a Moroccan cane dance (which is normally a men’s dance); “Women of the Well,” a traditional dance; a new dance to the music of Shakira (a popular Lebanese fusion singer); “Eyes of Love,” a bride’s dance; and ended with a “contest” shimmy dance. The performers were very good and put on a good show. As a group, they had excellent uniformity and precision (especially in the playing of their zils) although a more practiced dance eye (Georgie’s--) could see variations in shimmy, some more graceful in steps, some with better arms, but this you see in a professional corps de ballet also.

We sat at table with four women, three of whom were Alverno alumni, and made pleasant conversation during the meal as well. As we were departing, one of them remarked, “It makes you realize there are parts of your body you haven’t used lately.” To which I couldn’t help but reply, “Lately?”
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