So it’s been over a week since I saw Beats Antique with Zoe Jakes and Kami Liddle at the Brooklyn Bowl, but I’m still reeling from it. For once, I am at a loss for words. How can someone describe an experience like that? It was a visual, audial, and tactile sensory explosion. It’s the kind of thing that I wish I could live through again, because I know so much of it just went right over my head. But everything I did manage to absorb, was pigs-flying-in-the-sky, everlasting-gobstopper good. You know what I mean? Perhaps not. I’ll do my best to explain.
First off, the Brooklyn Bowl was the perfect venue for Beats Antique. While the space in its entirety is huge (bowling alley, concert/dining area, large bars, etc.), the concert space itself is fairly small, creating a great sense of intimacy, and yet the physical stage is big enough for multiple musicians and dancers. It’s clever floor design at its best. Zoe Jakes fangirl that I am, I made sure I was front and center, and let me tell you, it’s the best place to be. Seeing your favorite dancers up close and personal is always an enlightening experience. You have so many “Oh, that’s how she does it” moments from a both technical and costuming perspectives. This show was no exception.
Zoe, being Zoe, danced with her toes literally gripping the edge of the stage. She danced so close that, much to my delight, the hem of her skirt attempted to decapitate me more than once. Not only could I see every stray safety pin and sparkle, but the chance to see how her body moves up close and personal was phenomenal. I had all these theories in my head about how she does what she does, and they were all verified or rethought while I was watching. Intuitively, it’s obvious that, despite her flailing about, dizzying spins, and quick level changes, she has superb control of her body even when off balance. What I didn’t realize is just how often she’s off balance. She truly lets the music take her where it will (and considering she dances to the same songs night after night, it’s a miracle that she keeps each performance fresh). Although I don’t know if it’s in my personal style to dance with such abandon, I certainly want to incorporate some similar moments of virtuosity. Furthermore, seeing her spin without spotting was beyond excellent. I love to turn, and I’ve been working on creating sculptural turns like Zoe’s where spotting ruins your line and disrupts the serenity of the moment. It was great seeing how she oriented herself and how she recovered when she lost front. This woman has some serious recovery/fudging skills, and they’re all built into her stage persona. So brilliant.
Kami Liddle, on the other hand was a little more reserved, but between Zoe and the overall Beats Antique ambiance, her expressivity has grown exponentially since the last time I saw her perform with the Bellydance Superstars. Between what I’ve gathered at her live performances and my avid YouTube adventures, I feel like Kami Liddle is experiencing this crazy artistic growth spurt right now. I can’t really put my finger on why or where she’s going exactly, but she’s pushing herself, and incase you couldn’t already tell, I love it. In this show, my favorite Kami Liddle moments were those in which she performed pure choreography. There are few dancers on this earth that can stand next to Zoe Jakes and hold their ground. Kami didn’t merely manage to do it, she owned it. She has such a wonderful technical ability, but it doesn’t always shine through when she performs her own choreography or improvises. A departure from her typical sweet and soft style, Kami was so sharp and fierce it was like a whole new dancer was before me. Whenever the two of them were on stage together, my head constantly flipped back and forth between Zoe and Kami. I just couldn’t decide who to watch! There was one too many beautiful options!
But the encore performance was the icing on the cake. Naturally, the concert ended past midnight which meant Easter had arrived. Lo and behold! Beats Antique marched back on stage sporting nothing less than bunny suits. That’s right. Bunny suits. (Kami Liddle opted for a zebra suit. Very classy.) Assorted lucky fans surrounded them on stage wearing giant animal heads, while a two-pound chocolate bunny was sacrificed and free merch (and the occasional jellybean) was thrown into the crowd. At one point the chocolate bunny’s head landed in my hands only to be snatched away by Zoe who immediately commenced gnawing on it. Happily, I scored a Beats Antique tee-shirt handed to me by Zoe Jakes herself. Since it’s an XL, I’ve been wearing it as a nightshirt in the hopes of having belly filled dreams, and considering I can’t get this concert out of my head, I think it’s working.