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Four fans of belly dancing were deeply disappointed by the show of Tunisian dancer Leila Haddad last week, which was part of the Mediterranean Arts Festival organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). They said the show was substandard and failed to meet their expectation.
'We would like to let your readers know we are lodging an official complaint to the LCSD concerning the show by Leila Haddad on October 25 and October 27 in the Hong Kong City Hall.
'The show organisers at the LCSD have failed the public trust by not doing their job properly in promoting a group of dancers of low standard and apparently not even related to the Egyptian or Mediterranean culture - yet promoting them as 'Master of Egyptian Belly Dance'. Haddad apparently has no connection with Egypt, living in Paris, and has not performed in public since 2003.
'The first show was extremely poorly done, with a very low standard of dancing technique. This even included a disturbing scene with a big bellied male dancer dressed in feminine costume - definitely not the traditional way men would dance in these performances. As members of the Hong Kong public, we do not blame the performers for trying to make a living. However, we do challenge how on earth the organisers of the LCSD could choose such a group of inept performers and dare to promote them as world famous dancers. We have been totally misguided and cheated by the organiser.
'The second show was far worse. In this, Haddad spent most of the time slouching around the stage with very basic body movements, posing and flirting with the seven musicians. Haddad disappeared from stage more than three times during the performance, each time for 10-plus minutes. For the rest of the show, the so-called 'dancer' was either sitting on the stage with only arm movements or wiping the floor with her hair and costume.'
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the authority had sought advice from art experts and its art form panels when selecting programmes for the festival.
A departmental spokeswoman said Leila Haddad was known as an influential dancer who legitimised the term 'oriental dance', frequently referred to as 'belly dancing', and brought it out of nightclubs and cabarets into a formal theatre setting. Her theatrical choreography with minute details in movements - of the shoulders, hips, chin and arms - were her signature interpretation of oriental dance. 'In the programme Zikrayat, she pays tribute to the legendary Egyptian singer Oum Khalsoum. The male dancer who appeared on stage was a symbolic representation of Oum who began singing at the age of 13 disguised as a male,' she said.
All four performances by Haddad played to capacity audiences and received positive comments, the spokeswoman said. 'We regret to learn that the performance did not meet the expectations of the letter writer,' she said. 'We have endeavoured to provide a platform for our audience to experience the rich cultures from different parts of the world, appreciate the variety of artistic expressions and interpretations of the performing arts, and discuss their merits in an open manner.'
Matt Burden, after moving to his new home in Tai Hang, was told by PCCW that the building he moved into was not connected to the company's service and he would have to wait weeks to be connected.
'On October 12, I moved my home from North Point to a new apartment at Wang Fung Terrace, Tai Hang. Before that, I contacted PCCW and asked them to relocate my telephone line, broadband and Now TV. However, PCCW later cancelled the appointment, telling me there was no service to my new apartment and I had to wait for another month or two for a connection. I asked if I could terminate my contract with them and switch to another provider. But I was informed this was not possible.
Having no other option, all I could do was call PCCW for a more definite time frame for installation. The technicians indicated they might be available to install the line on November 17 or later, which means my family of five is without phone, fax, broadband or TV for another four weeks - and PCCW still required me to continue paying for the services.
A customer service officer of PCCW said the 'delay in relocation of our service provision was due to limited resources. Our technical team had speeded up the process and arranged the reinstallation ... for Mr Burden on November 2. The service charge during the period when Mr Burden could not access our services would be waived accordingly,' she said.