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Review: Controlled Burn–Raks Inferno Makes a Safe but Sizzling Return to In Person Shows

Gaea Lady. Raks Inferno @ The Newport Theatre. Photo: Marielle Bokor

It’s been a long while since things were “normal.” And the last time we set foot in the Newport Theater, it was over a year ago and cold out. Very cold. The Hilary Duff Project was amazing, but after that, the theater went dark. Until today, when Raks Inferno (courtesy the troupe known as Raks Geek), a collection of fantastically talented folks brought fire and life back to the stage.

If you’re unfamiliar with this group, now’s a great time to get to know them. Now in their 9th year, this troupe of dancers is full of folks you should know. Founded by Dawn Xiana Moon, a singer/songwriter/dancer/programmer/cook extraordinaire, the troupe mixes fire and bellydance/fusion in their Raks Inferno shows and all sorts of fantastic nerdery and tribal/bellydance/fusion in their Raks Geek shows.

Kamrah Raqs. Raks Inferno @ The Newport Theatre. Photo: Marielle Bokor

Each individual member of this highly skilled team has an accolades list that makes them a must-see, from Kamrah Raqs, who’s a sought after teacher with a martial arts background who’s been noted for their isolations and expression in dance to Lee Na Moo, a fiery and passionate dancer with international renown, who also won the Chicago Oriental Dance Competition and currently also performs as a contemporary dancer.

Meanwhile, Michi Trota, one of our favorites to watch tame the flames at Raks Inferno, is a 5 time Hugo award winner, and Gaea Lady, whose veils never fail to entrance, is a nationally recognized burlesque performer. 

Lee Na Moo and Dawn Xiana Moon. Raks Inferno @ The Newport Theatre. Photo: Marielle Bokor

Any of these performers would be fantastic to see on their own, but seeing them together is something much more special. From crew to performers, what makes a night out with these folks the most fun is the familial feeling. Nine years has created a bond between the performers, which makes it even more fun to see them interact with each other on stage and off, and luckily for the audience, the feeling of family extends outward, with a “Fellowship of the Raks Geek” for those who keep coming back to partake of that’s full of fun conversation and geekery.

As for this past Friday’s show? This group wasn’t taking any time off during the pandemic, producing amazing virtual shows that often helped raise money for a TON of great causes, and with all the crazy production value and time put into those shows, I almost wondered if it’d seem like something was missing. 

Michi Trota. Raks Inferno @ The Newport Theatre. Photo: Marielle Bokor

It didn’t. From the moment Michi Trota lit the first fire it was exhilarating. Trota’s boldness and presence are immediately arresting. When she takes the stage, she commands attention and her command of fire makes her mesmerizing to watch. Meanwhile, Kamrah manages to always impress with their command of every individual muscle, and their sword routine in this show was no exception. Their isolations are truly amazing to watch, but would be nothing without their magical flow and energy. As per usual, Gaea Lady mesmerizes, as mentioned previously, and took the stage with big beautiful veils, transforming the space into an ethereal place, and Dawn Xiana Moon ties it all together wonderfully with a sultry, energetic and enthusiastic way about her. There were even some amazing collaborations between Lee Na Moo and Moon and Gaea Lady and a live guitarist.

It’s never a bore or a chore to check out what Raks Geek’s been cooking up, and as we mentioned previously, they’ve not been waiting out the quarantine without showcasing their amazing talents. If you missed out on all the fire and flames, don’t worry, though, as their next show, a Raks Geek event, will be more than enough fun to introduce you. Expect that show on August 20th–and expect a party, as the Nine Lives show is all about celebrating the troupe and their 9 years of camaraderie and nerdery. We can’t wait!

Gaea Lady. Raks Inferno @ The Newport Theatre. Photo: Marielle Bokor

A quick note for all who might plan on attending, and a good note in general: Get vaccinated if you haven’t already. Returning to the stage responsibly was one of Raks Geek’s goals, and as such shows are reserved for fully vaccinated patrons only, with proof of vaccination being required to attend. Also, act fast, as there are limited tickets available, with the theater still seating at 50% capacity.

 

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