Carnival Cabaret

Carnival Cabaret
July 3, 2017 W. Celeste Davis Stragand
Photo by Matt W. Smith. Image courtesy of Bella Diva Dance.
Photo by Matt W. Smith. Image courtesy of Bella Diva Dance.

Photo by Matt W. Smith. Image courtesy of Bella Diva Dance.

Escape into the mystique. Escape into the fantasy. Escape into the beads, samba and wonder that encompass all that is carnival. Saturday,June 24 at 8p in the Clocktower Cabaret, Bella Diva Dance transformed the space into Rio Carnival! It was a journey of sights and sounds, open for all to enjoy. Upon being seated, we were immediately given noisemakers and a trivia answer card; this evening was set to be full of entertainment.

Desiring to be a bacchanalian affair, the ladies and one “bro” of Bella Diva donned the stage in a variety of outfits ranging from feather, beaded headdress ensembles to white suits with bedazzled brassieres. Bella Diva prides itself as being a studio safe for women of all kinds. Caitlyn Bronza-Smith, artistic director, works with all body types and the stage reflected this variety, as did the level of precision and skill.

Photo by Matt W. Smith. Image courtesy of Bella Diva Dance.

Photo by Matt W. Smith. Image courtesy of Bella Diva Dance.

With confidence oozing, the dancers shimmied, shaked and brought forth the liveliness and vigor that is samba. At times the synchronicity proved tight and at others there were opportunities for practice and growth. Breaking up each piece and providing comical interludes as well as Brazilian trivia, emcee Naughty Pierre provoked and even lured audience members to  the stage just prior to intermission for an interactive samba dance tutorial.

The piece, Triple Threat, began as a trio connected through touch, undulating. The goddess imagery and movement, earthy. The women dancers explored poses and expressions of the feminine form primarily exploring the lower planes of the body concave in frame with billowing arms as if digging and swallowing the terra mater. Lively drum beats shook the room.

Jovial and evocative, the evening showcased the company’s breadth of Brazilian dance, including the malandro, which is said to have influenced the moves in Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal video.  With isolated pops, quakes and booty shakes, the night even included a class recital showcasing a student who had recently undergone an appendectomy. Just the mention and inclusion of this displayed the familial love, respect and trust amongst the dancers.

The company lit the stage with smiles, sparkles and lots of bare skin. Full of frolic and frenzy, the night moved quickly. To gain the chance to see Bella Diva again, you will have to wait until August 23 for Bella Diva Unplugged, where the company dancers have chosen their own music and choreography. If this performance was any entrée into the energy and passion of the company, it is likely you will be in for quite the treat at their next show.


W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and Denver transplant, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience.  A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program, sits on the Programs Committee for Women’s Transportation Seminar and works for Denver Regional Council of Governments managing their Way to Go Program (www.waytogo.org) providing mobility options for those in the Denver region.  Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!

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