Yalla! Yalla!

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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

The Awalim Dance Company performs an enjoyable half-hour dance show at a Renaissance Faire. Their style is descended from the ancestress of tribal style, the Bal Anat dance troupe, but it's a different branch of the tribal tree than the improvised American Tribal Style of FatChance.


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The Chart

Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 36:00
Performance Time 34:00 (94%)
Amount Of "Other" 2:00 minutes (6%)
List Price $30.00
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 88 cents
Cost For "Other" $1.67

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What The Show Was Like

Awalim Dance Company is a U.S. tribal style belly dance troupe based in Georgia. Their flavor of "tribal" comes from a branch of the Bal Anat tree that is different from the group improvisation one of American Tribal Style (FatChanceBellyDance). Like their ancestress troupe Bal Anat, Awalim uses choreography for their group dances.

The half-hour performance on this video is filmed live at a Renaissance Faire. The dancers wear Turkish-style vests, fabric midriff covers, tassel belts, full skirts, and full pantaloons. The music for the performance consists of pieces by the bands Solace, Turku, and La Notte.

There are a total of seven different choreographed pieces, as follows:

  • The video begins with a circle dance to the song Lesge by the band Turku featuring the entire group of 6 dancers. The choreography captures the flavor of a folk dance.
  • Using the song Crimson by the band Solace, three of the dancers come forward with flat baskets to perform a balancing piece.
  • On the third song, Uskudara Gideriken by Turku, five of the dancers perform together as a group.
  • Two dancers perform an energetic duet to a drum solo, Cybele by Solace.
  • Four troupe members perform a dance with finger cymbals to Agri Dagindan Uctum by Turku.
  • A duet performs sinuous moves to the 6/8 song Dance of the Dervish by La Notte wearing what appear to be long spikey fingernails.
  • For the high-energy finale, the troupe performs to the song Rebirth by Solace with baskets, sword, and fire. Two of the dancers even balance fire on their feet and foreheads!

The dancers in this group are strong and flexible. At times, individual placement isn't quite uniform or moves aren't done quite precisely the same way, but this is a very minor point. The overall impression is that the group dances very well together with the kind of synchronization I rarely see in belly dance troupes at the festivals I attend. I didn't catch any bloopers of anyone failing to know the choreography.

Their style of featuring only part of the group for most pieces creates a varied show to hold audience attention. The choreography makes use of the fact that multiple people are available, using formations, roll-offs, and traveling. The individuals not dancing a particular piece sit on the sidelines and offer encouragement in the form of clapping, shouts, etc. Overall, the performance conveys the flavor of a party, and their stage personalities make the audience feel like invited guests in the living room rather than voyeurs peering through the window.

The individual units of the performance work well together: the costumes, the style of the choreography, the music, the props, and the nature of the performance environment (outdoor, informal show where some folkloric flavor is expected) all come together effectively.

The production quality is generally excellent. The camera work does exactly what it should: it always shows the dancing from a view that allows me to see what is happening. Once in a while a canopy creeps into the top edge of the screen, but it's rare and really not a problem. The set is attractive and well lit. The sound quality has some room for improvement. Despite the minor issues I raised, the quality is definitely solid enough that I can comfortably watch the dancing without distraction.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You would be impressed by dancers who can balance fire on their feet and foreheads!
  • You enjoy watching belly dance troupes that interact well with each other and dance well as a team.
  • You would enjoy a somewhat folkloric interpretation of belly dance.
  • You enjoy U.S. tribal style belly dance, including the branches of tribal that do choreography rather than group improvisation.
  • You enjoy the music of the bands Solace and/or Turku.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You prefer Egyptian-style interpretations of Oriental dance.
  • You wouldn't care for belly dancers who embrace a more covered look in their costuming.
  • Your definition of "tribal" includes only group improvisation and you don't care to watch anything outside of that.
  • You believe that Renaissance Faires should feature only authentic historical garb and folk dances.

In Conclusion

I enjoy this video very much. I appreciate skillful troupe dancing, and Awalim demonstrates the kind of polish and stage charisma that I enjoy. Their choreography is varied, they are well-rehearsed, and they look as if they have a great deal of fun dancing together. If they were dancing at the Renaissance Faire in my community, I'd make a point of attending it to see them perform.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Enjoyable, well-structured performance.
  • Interesting, varied choreography and effective use of props.
  • Group is well-rehearsed, coordinates its moves well.
  • Feels like a "group dancing together", rather than a bunch of individuals who all happened to learn the same choreography.
  • Excellent camera work, shows precisely what it should.
  • When people aren't doing one of the choreographed dances, they remain on-stage off to the side and support their colleagues with clapping, shouts of "Yalla!", and other encouragement.
  • The ending identifies each dancer by name, and the closing credits identify the music used.

What I Didn't Like

  • At times, the sound quality seems a bit rough.
  • The transitions between songs seem a bit odd, showing the dancers in settings other than the stage where the performance takes place, etc.

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Zi'ah Ali, the director of the troupe, sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review for my web site. We've had only minimal contact with each other prior to that - exchanging links to each other's web sites and

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Zi'ah Ali and Awalim Dance Company as follows:

Awalim Dance Company
PMB 290
930 Monroe Drive NE, Suite 102
Atlanta, GA 30308

Phone: (+1) (404) 581-0199
Web Site: www.tribalbellydance.com

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