De Ann's Dream

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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

Beginning in the 1970's, one of the popular belly dancers in the San Francisco area was De Ann. She captured the attention of a young musician named Doug Adams, and became the "Dream Dancer" inspiration that led him to compose the music of Light Rain that today remains popular with the U.S. belly dancing community, particularly on the West Coast. This video, produced shortly before De Ann's death in 2000, shows performances that she did between 1970 and 1985. It contains two segments (each under 5 minutes) of full-length performances; the rest of the video is a collage of still photos interwoven against short clips of performance snippets.


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The Chart

Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 24:50
Performance Time 23:25 minutes (94%)
Amount Of "Other" 1:25 minutes (6%)
List Price $20.00
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 85 cents
Cost For "Other" $1.20

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What The Performances Were Like

This video's purpose is to showcase the dancing of the late De Ann Adams, the dancer who inspired the music of Light Rain. The material included represents De Ann's performances from 1970 through 1985. Unfortunately, during the years that De Ann was at her peak, the cost of purchasing and developing film for home movies was very expensive. Home video technology was on the bleeding edge, which meant that it too was expensive and cumbersome at the time. Because of these issues with equipment availability and cost, there weren't many video records made of De Ann's performances during that era and consequently there wasn't much material to draw from in creating this video. The total length is less than 25 minutes. Most of that is accomplished through showing clips of partial performances. All music on this video comes from the recordings of Light Rain.

Throughout the video, the lighting is better than what I'm used to seeing on home movies/videos shot during live performances, particularly when you consider that this footage was shot during the 1970's and early 1980's. Although the lighting and focus are admittedly not broadcast quality, I was still pleasantly surprised that they were as good as they were. They were definitely better than the quality of many performance segments included on new instructional videos being produced today!

The video opens with a 2 1/4-minute recitation of a poem titled "De Ann", which is about De Ann and her dancing, with the song Tar Marmalade softly underlying it. For about the first minute, the video shows a series of still photos of De Ann. For the rest, there is a series of short clips of De Ann dancing. This section was beautifully organized. The music was very effective at setting the mood, and was soft enough that it didn't interfere with my ability to hear the words of the poem.

The next section is about 3 1/2 minutes of clips from various performances by De Ann in a variety of costumes, set against the song De Ann's Dream.

Following this is the song Dark Fire, which is about 5 minutes long. It begins with about a minute's worth of still photos of De Ann, then leads into a series of clips of De Ann performing with a sword for the remainder of the song.

Next is one of the two full-length performances on this video. This one, using the song Rabekin which is about 3 1/4 minutes long, opens with members of De Ann's troupe, The Dream Dancers, performing veil choreography. Then the group moves to one side of the stage and the camera captures DeAnn's entrance. De Ann performs a long, continuous spin sequence while framing herself in a variety of ways with her veil. It's a wonderful sequence to watch, partly because of her skill at spinning for such a long period of time, and partly because her veil work brings sufficient variety to the overall look to maintain continuous interest. At the end of the solo segment, the ensemble surrounds De Ann and they all dance together as a group to the end of the song.

The 5-minute song Sword Dance is next, and appropriately it features a full-length sword work performance by De Ann. The song is a sensuous chiftetelli, and provides dramatic background to De Ann's dancing. In her day, De Ann was known for her sword work, and in this performance segment she shows why, doing a number of difficult moves.

The final performance segment on this video is another mosaic of still photos interwoven with brief clips of performances. The song used is The Gypsies, which is one of the more widely-used Light Rain songs. This section lasts for about 4 minutes.

The video ends with about 1 1/2 minutes of closing titles, with the song City of Dreams playing in the background.

I liked this video, partly for sentimental reasons (see Disclosures), and partly because I appreciated the artistry that went into crafting a collection of short video snippets into a collage of dance. However, it's not for everybody.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You were either personally acquainted with De Ann or a fan of her work, and you'd like something to remember her by.
  • You're a fan of the music of Light Rain, and you'd like to see performances by the dancer who inspired Doug to compose it.
  • You have a strong interest in the history of the San Francisco belly dancing scene, and you'd appreciate having archival footage of one of the dancers who was a prominent part of it.
  • You are intrigued by artistic presentations that successfully combine poetry with music and dance, still photos interwoven with video.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You're looking for belly dance videos that show a series of "typical" performances from beginning to end.
  • A 25-minute video with only two full-length performances (for a combined length of 8 minutes) on it would be disappointing to you. (Everything else is short clips and still photos.)
  • You're shopping for a video that offers a low price-per-minute (i.e., generous amount of performing time in exchange for the price paid).

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • De Ann is a skilled dancer with the ability to truly feel the music.
  • The quality of the editing work that went into creating this video is superb. In many cases, short clips of performances are assembled together as a mosaic against the background of a continuous play of one of Light Rain's songs. This was done so seamlessly that the dancing matches the music to perfection.
  • The video has a very artistic feel to it.

What I Didn't Like

  • Most of the video consists of either still photos or brief clips excerpted from shows. There are only a couple of full-length performances included for a combined length of about 8 minutes. There is admittedly a good reason for this (video records simply hadn't been made of De Ann's dancing back in her prime), but it was still disappointing to watch the video and realize how little there was.
  • The price-per-minute is high compared to most belly dancing performance videos available in the market.

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In Conclusion

If you're a fan of the music of Light Rain, this video will show you the dancer who inspired it. It's also a good addition to the video collection of people who have fond memories of the early San Francisco belly dance scene in the 1970's and 1980's, since it features one of the prominent dancers of that era. But dancers seeking a video that features a series of full-length performances would probably prefer to look for a longer video that has a different focus.

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I once took a workshop taught by De Ann, but I never had a chance to get to know her outside of that. I never saw her perform in person. I've liked the music of the band Light Rain since the late 1980's, and I still have happy memories of doing a live performance to Light Rain's music at Rakkasah, a belly dancing festival. In particular, I remember finding Doug and his fellow musicians to be a very dancer-friendly band. It was a pleasure to work with them. After De Ann died unexpectedly of complications resulting from an accident, I purchased this video for sentimental reasons.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Magi Productions as follows:

Magi Productions
P.O. Box 356
Larkspur, CA 94977

Telephone and Fax: (+1) (415) 892-0181

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