Behind the Veil, by Amira Mor

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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Summary

Overall Rating: StarStarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

This video consists of two 15-minute belly dance shows performed by Amira Mor to modern-style Arabic music played on electronic instruments. She's a talented dancer with lovely stage presence, but the fast-cut editing makes the video feel jumpy to watch. Cover

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item

Amazon.com in U.S.

Amazon.ca in Canada

Amazon.co.uk in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
NTSC
All Regions
Canada
NTSC
All Regions
Not offered
VHS Tape Edition U.K.
NTSC
Canada
NTSC
Not offered

(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. Amira Mor told me that her videos all support all regions, and my testing confirmed it.)

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

Have you actually watched this video yourself? If so, offer your own opinion in the poll below! Otherwise, click the "View Results" button to see what worldwide users of shira.net think of it.

 
1) How would you rate Behind the Veil by Amira Mor?
Absolutely fantastic!
Definitely would recommend it.
Good enough to be worth the money, but not special
Disappointing, but had at least a little value
Nothing good about it at all
 

The above poll includes responses submitted since March 15, 2003.

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The Chart

Formats Available NTSC, PAL, SECAM
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 32:12
Performance Time 31:11 (97%)
Amount Of "Other" 1:01 minutes (3%)
List Price $24.99
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 75 cents
Cost For "Other" 80 cents

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Description

What The Performances Are Like

This video consists of two 15-minute solo performances by Amira Mor which took place at the Aladdin Supper Club in Hackensack, New Jersey. Each performance consists of a compilation of segments pieced together in the editing process showing varied camera angles, costumes, and sets.

Amira Mor is a charismatic dancer with a bright stage presence, and her movements match the music quite well. Her smile sparkles as if she loves to dance. Generally speaking, her dancing comes across as high energy, even on the slow improvisations, but it works because it's consistent with the style of music being played for her. For the slower music, she tends to use undulations and floor work. The veil sections consist primarily of spinning with the veil held behind her. I don't remember seeing any abdominal isolations such as stomach rolls. The only sections that convey a soft, dreamy mood are the artistic compilations with poetry recitation at the beginning of each of the two routines.

In a few places, the video uses mood lighting and a fog machine. These effects are used well, and enhance the overall flavor. There is always enough light to see the dancing.

Most of the camera angles are good choices that allow me to see what the dancer is doing (i.e., very few tight closeups). There are a few less appealing ones that are close-ups of jiggling female flesh or artsy-fartsy diagonal shots, but these are held to a minimum so I could live with them.

Unfortunately, the editing turns what could have been a pleasant video into something that is a bit annoying to watch. It jumps from one camera angle to another every 2-4 seconds. But the rapid-fire changes agitated me. Lingering for 15-20 seconds on each angle would have made for a much better video. The jumpy editing would probably have been okay for a music video, but it wasn't the right approach for a video that was supposed to showcase a talented dancer's skill. I think a non-dancer or a beginning dancer might enjoy this video despite this issue, whereas a more experienced dancer would probably find that the editing interferes too much.

Another issue is that many of the angle changes show Amira wearing an entirely different costume, sometimes dancing against a different background. Some of the shots are done in slow motion so they don't match the music. Instead of being able to relax and enjoy the show, I kept finding myself saying, "Huh?" It might have been interesting to preserve this effect for the opening dance on the video, then show each of the other dances using just a single costume/set from beginning to end of a given song. She has the right idea in using varied costumes and sets to offer variety, but constantly jumping from one to another within each song didn't work for me because the effect became monotonous and distracting over the course of a 30-minute video.

Her performance in a dramatic red costume in front of a live band appears to be the dominant one used on-screen the most. Other costumes are royal blue, white, silver, and black. All of her skirts are slit to show off her legs all the way up to the belt.

The elements of the first show include:

  • Opening taqsim (improvised) music with poetry recited via voiceover. The image shows assorted artistic scenes, such as silhouette dancing against a red lit background, meditation over candles, etc. In this one, I found the compilation of varying artistic poses and movements to be enjoyable. About 3 minutes.
  • High-energy dancing to fast music. Many spins. About 4 minutes.
  • Taqsim music, with different scenes showing veil spins, floor work, and standing undulations. About 3 minutes.
  • High-energy dancing to the Egyptian pop favorite, Habibi Ya Nour El Ain. About 3 minutes.
  • Energetic drum solo. About 2 minutes.
  • Finale. Dancing with Isis wings. About 1 minute.

The elements of the second show include:

  • Opening taqsim with voiceover poetry, with a compilation of on-screen images. One of these shows Amira dancing in running water. Beautifully artistic. About 2 minutes.
  • Spirited belly dancing to a song with a khaleegy rhythm, which introduced a pleasant change of pace. About 2 minutes.
  • Sword balancing to a flowing song, about 4 1/2 minutes.
  • Energetic medley. I recognized one of the songs as Ya Mustapha. About 3 1/2 minutes.
  • Drum solo. About 2 minutes.
  • Finale. About 2 minutes.

This is followed by the closing credits, about 1 minute.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You're enthusiastic about Amira Mor's dancing.
  • You enjoy Arabic pop music played on electronic instruments such as keyboards.
  • You enjoy American-style dancing with its use of props such as veils, Isis wings, and swords.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You tend to prefer folkloric, tribal, or Egyptian-style dancing.
  • You like to watch a dancer interpret a given song from beginning to end, rather than seeing a compilation of separate performances woven together over the music.
  • You would be frustrated by jumpy editing that shows each camera angle for only 2-4 seconds.

In Conclusion

With its use of compilation format and a few special effects, this video has a polished flavor to it, and could be an attractive introduction to belly dancing for people who aren't very familiar with it. Experienced dancers will probably find the jumpy editing and compilation format that spans the entire video to be too intrusive.

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Features of the DVD Edition

This review is based on the DVD edition of this video.

Summary

Feature

Available on This DVD?

Regions Available 0 (playable worldwide)
Fast-Forward Through Introductory Screens Not needed - intro screens only 3 seconds
Pause Supported
Chaptering Yes, in selected places
Menu, Sub-Menus Only top menu with one choice, to play the show
Fast Forward  Works at all speeds supported by my equipment
Forward to the Next Break  Supported
Rewind/Reverse Works at all speeds supported by my equipment
Slow-Motion Forward Supported
Zoom Supported
Alternate Sound Tracks  None
Other Extras None

Chaptering & Sub-Menus

There is only one menu on this DVD - the very top menu. It has one choice, to play the show. When selected, it starts at the beginning.

There are 5 chapters through the video, and tapping the fast-forward button on my remote indeed skips to the next chapter's beginning, as follows:

  • Chapter 1 - Beginning of first routine.
  • Chapter 2 - The second song in the first routine (the taqsim)
  • Chapter 3 - The compilation that opens the second routine (with the poetry, running water, candles, silhouettes)
  • Chapter 4 - The sword section of the second routine
  • Chapter 5 - Near the end of the drum solo in the second routine

Extras

No extras appear on this DVD.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Amira Mor's stage presence is lovely, particularly her sparkling smile.
  • Amira Mor dances skillfully, with her movements matching well with the music.
  • The lighting and sound are excellent, and the sets are attractive.
  • The camera angles are varied, and for the most part they tend to let me see what I want to see.
  • The opening taqsim compilation, in which she recites poetry via voiceover, is beautifully assembled with artistic filming and editing. The same is true of the taqsim compilation that opens the second routine on the video.

What I Didn't Like

  • The editing causes the on-screen image to jump from one camera angle to another much too quickly - every 3-5 seconds. I was exhausted from watching it at the end of the 30-minute program.
  • I was frustrated that the format for the entire video constantly jumped between multiple costumes and sets within the same song. I appreciated the compilation format for the opening, but after 30 minutes of it I was edgy.
  • The editing overdoes the use of slow motion in many places.

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Amira Mor, choose from the list below:

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Disclosures

I have had only minimal contact with Amira Mor before reviewing this video. She sent me a complimentary copy to review for my web site.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

U.K.<==Click here to order the VHS tape from Amazon.com. Prices in U.S. dollars, shipped from a U.S. location, uses NTSC video format

Or, contact Amira Mor as follows:

Amira Mor International Entertainment Co.
P.O. Box 101
Closter, NJ 07624
U.S.A.

Phone: (+1) (201) 348-2126
E-Mail: contact@AmiraMor.com

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