seyyide sultan aug. 20

A classic tale reimagined as rarely seen locally before took the stage at Arlington's Regent Theatre for one night only in November -- the last performance after a nationwide run.

Sunday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m., fans of all things theater and dance could experience an unusual take on the film "The Wizard of Oz" by Jillina's BDExperience, an intensive and professional development program for intermediate to professional belly dancers. All cast members are female.

According to an email from local cast member Seyyide Sultan, this performance was inspired by Middle Eastern dance traditions and incorporates Raqs Sharqi, the classical Egyptian style of belly dance. The cast is expected to dance to original music by artist Paul Dinletir with incorporation of music by the artist Khader Ahmad

"We’re using Middle Eastern dance and fusion styles to present the story. I think that this movement vocabulary is rich enough to tell the story through movement, as much as the ballet vocabulary would be good, or other dances," Sultan wrote in an email to YourArlington.

Sultan, an Arlington resident and belly dancer of more than two decades, played "Glinda the Good Witch," joined by roughly 20 other performers; some others are also also New England based, but there are even dancers from outside of the U.S., representing countries such as Switzerland and Mexico, according to Principal Director Jillina Carlano.

Sultan wrote that she remembers "The Wizard of Oz" from when she was a young girl, so it is a meaningful story for her. 

"Being chosen as Glinda, the good witch… It felt like an amazing highlight of my whole life, like achieving a dream from my childhood. I have been working hard, hoping to deliver what the producers and audience would expect from this amazing role," Sultan wrote. 

This production first took the stage in Los Angeles in 2019 and has been running in theaters throughout the country ever since. The upcoming Arlington performance was the last show in the United States before this production retired and the dance company was scheduled to soon begin work on its next adaptation of a beloved property: "Alice in Wonderland." 

Tickets for this event were $27 per adult.

View the seat map and purchase tickets here >>

Glimpses of the show's earlier performances were featured on the company's Instagram page >> 

"Audiences should prepare for an evening of fun, delight and a wonderful escape. Our cast is going to bring to life the classic story via a variety of Raqs Sharqi and Fusion dance styles including Saidi, Beledi, Mejance, Fusion, [plus] imaginative props and spectacular costumes. This show will be fun for the whole family," Carlano wrote in the statement.

This adaptation of the 1939 Hollywood film classic follows in the footsteps of several other interpretations of the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum. These include "The Wiz," on stage and screen as a musical with an all African American cast; a 1974 science-fiction film called "Zardoz;" a 2007 fantasy television mini series starring Zooey Deschanel, called "Tin Man;" and a 2013 film starring James Franco -- a prequel about how the "wizard" initially got from Kansas to Oz -- titled "Oz the Great and Powerful." 

More information about Jillina's BDExperience can be read here >> 

Aug. 1, 2023: Middle Eastern dance performance held

 This news announcement was published Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. Brynn O'Connor, YourArlington's assistant to the editor, made queries, prepared the copy and did the layout. After the fact, it was updated for time references and minor wordsmithing on Nov. 14, 2023.