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Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan Photo by Lia Chang

Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan Photo by Lia Chang


New York based belly dancer Sarah Hassan takes great delight in being recognized from her performance in Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner’s CALIGULA MAXIMUS, which recently ended it’s twice extended run at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre. The outrageous theatrical extravaganza, combining elements of a circus, a play with music, and a nightclub installation, co-written by Alfred Preisser (ARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE) and Randy Weiner (THE DONKEY SHOW) and directed by Preisser, is set on the last night of the notorious emperor’s life.
Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan, circus performers and musicians perform in the lobby of the Ellen Stewart Theatre before the performance of CALIGULA MAXIMUS. Photo by Lia Chang

Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan, circus performers and musicians perform in the lobby of the Ellen Stewart Theatre before the performance of CALIGULA MAXIMUS. Photo by Lia Chang


Ryan Knowles stars as Caligula, adult film star and Penthouse Pet Justine Joli as his wife Caesonia, Lady Circus troupe aerialist Anya Sapozhnikova as his sister Drusilla, Luqman Brown as Sulla, the peanut vendor and JerZ Short as circus master Helicon. The show features award-winning competitive bodybuilders Myra Adams and Roxanne Edwards, Coney Island Sideshow tattooed muscleman Tim DAX and an outrageous collection of over two-dozen circus performers, wrestlers, showgirls and freaks.

A commercial run of Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner’s CALIGULA MAXIMUS is in the works, and will be produced by Stephen Pevner, Hammerstein & Weiner, LLC, Christopher McElroen, Alfred Preisser and Kingsize, USA. Stayed tuned to www.caligulamaximus.com.

Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan and Alexandra Bernard backstage at the Ellen Stewart Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan and Alexandra Bernard backstage at the Ellen Stewart Theatre in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Hassan shared, “I believe the true question, in my situation, is what won’t I take away from my CALIGULA experience! I had the good fortune, or dumb luck, depending on how you look at it; to be invited to join the CALIGULA family late in the rehearsal process, coming from absolutely no theater experience, save for a few belly dance shows in the New York City metro area. I had no reputation when I auditioned; two weeks prior to joining, I had returned from living overseas in Mongolia, in a tiny village on the Siberian boarder where I taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer. When I was contacted by Mike Y. to drop by Great Jones Street to see CALIGULA in it’s last stages of development and possibly lend my talents to the production, I had no idea what CALIGULA was or who was involved; but when I saw all those sexy, expressive, giving bodies writhing on the floor in gleeful harmony, hearing the back story of circus debauchery and sideshow revelry, I knew I had come to the right place. I got on board immediately after Alfred gave me the thumbs up, having only seen me dance for approximately ten seconds, and the next day, I started rehearsals for the ‘Nitty-Gritty’ and Gospel scenes.
Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan in Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner's CALIGULA MAXIMUS at the Ellen Stewart Theatre. Photo by Lia Chang

Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan in Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner's CALIGULA MAXIMUS at the Ellen Stewart Theatre. Photo by Lia Chang


I have been, for the past ten years, a belly dancer, first and foremost, as a means of creative expression. Stage lights beam down on me only when I am dressed to the nines in sequins, coins, feathers, and tassels, so joining a cast where I could keep the costume yet step outside the ‘belly box,’ was invaluable. Belly dancers are a group of performers unto themselves; only recently have we been used in venues and shows not specifically made for us or without a strong Middle Eastern bent. Now, belly dancers are touring the world with rock bands and promoting their artistry all over the web. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a belly dancer, and I am so fortunate to have been able to join a production such as CALIGULA, which speaks to the vaudeville, circus, side-show freak inside of me, that for too long has been wanting to crawl out, horns and all, and grace the public with visions of another world, which is exactly what CALIGULA is all about. To have shown up, night after night, and applied false eyelashes and rouge next to some of the most dedicated, talented and gregarious artists I have ever encountered has not only been a pleasure, but a gift. CALIGULA MAXIMUS has changed my life, by inviting me in to a world of show that I truly understand and never want to leave.”

Ms. Hassan was a member of the Harem Belly Dance Studio from 2000-2004, where she became fluent in Egyptian and Turkish cabaret under the tutelage of the late Renate Wallasch and performed with Jewels on the Path, The Turkish Delights, and The Harem Belly Dance Troupe. Over the past seven years, she has studied cabaret belly dance with Yousry Sharif and Raqia Hassan, American Tribal Fusion dance with Isis, Trisha McBride, and Elisheva, Flamenco with Victorio Korjhan, and Ballet with Barbara Forbes. Her performance credits include Nadia Moussa’s showcases at Kush (New York City), Amara Al Amir’s showcases at Katy Daly’s (Long Island),ASAmed’s Winter Showcases (New York City), The 2009 Festival of the East (Long Island), and in 2008 she was the premier dancer of Il Cedri, a restaurant in Florence, Italy. Ms. Hassan has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, where she also received her B.A, in dance studios and sports club on Long Island, and in Mongolia, where she was a Peace Corps volunteer. In addition, she has choreographed pieces for the students of Sarah Lawrence College and the Harem Belly Dance Studio. Her work is influenced by the Ballets Russes, the folk dances of Central Asia, Spain and India, and the cabarets of Europe during the turn-of-the-century.

See what inspires Belly Dancer Sarah Hassan by checking out her blog , where she posts dance tidbits, upcoming performances, photos and dance inspirations.

Click here for the CALIGULA MAXIMUS Articles Archive.

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