Those who saw the first-ever performance of Patshiva, last August at a Concert in the Park, may remember that the Middle Eastern drumming and dancing group performed to pre-recorded music.
That appears to be a thing of the past, as the group of 10, slightly more than a year old, is now proficient in at least seven rhythms. Patshiva plays Friday's 6 p.m. Concert in the Park at Marine Park with Stroller White Pipes and Drums, the Suzuki violin kids and the Janice Holst Dancers. Admission is free.
"We take a lot of stylings from Middle Eastern styles of dances," said Patshiva member Ann Rosen. "It's not just Egyptian or Arabic, it's like there's some of each kind of dance."
"You might learn different ways to hold your arm, different ways to combine the steps, or different speeds or combinations of steps, but it's still belly dancing," she said. "There's a family feel to being in this sort of belly dance, because you do a lot of the practicing and a lot of the interacting together. It's hard to describe, but it's really satisfying."
Patshiva performances are based around tribal-style and gypsy-style dancing. The group includes members of local belly-dancing troupe Daughters of the New Moon, but Patshiva incorporates more improvisation.
"Tribal style is a style that originated in the United States and is a group improvisational dance," said Phyllis Scott, Rosen's sister and a member of Patshiva and the Daughters. Scott's two daughters, Pilar and Adrienne, are also in the group. "The gypsy dance styles are Americanized styles based on steps from Turkey and India."
A typical Patshiva show begins with a masmoudi rhythm, then breaks into a Saidi rhythm.
"What happens is some people dance and some people drum, and some people play other percussion instruments like finger cymbals," Rosen said. "We have a couple different kinds of drums, several shakers and rattlers. And one of the guys plays a traditional drum and a cymbal."
From the Saidi, the group shifts into a Chifte-telli, a slower rhythm that follows the melody. Patshiva then explores the Maqsoum, Baladi and Ayyoub rhythms.
"Each time we change rhythms, we change dancers," Rosen said. "We switch to the Baladi, which is a real common Middle Eastern rhythm, and we do some improvisation, which is dancers taking turns leading the other dancers. We don't know what they're going to do. It's sort of free flow."
"At the end of that, hopefully we'll have a little time for audience participation," she said. "We'll invite members of the audience to come up and dance with us. Little kids will come and dance, and sometimes people who've taken classes with us will get up and dance."
Patshiva formed in the spring of 2003. Group founder Samia Savell moved to town and began teaching tribal belly dancing. Members Char and Randy Mackay relocated to Juneau from Salt Lake City and began sharing their knowledge of Middle Eastern drumming. The group's first show with all live music was at the 2004 Alaska Folk Festival.
"Most of us had already been belly dancing, but tribal is interesting," Rosen said. "There's a lot of interaction between the dancers."