Goddessdance

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Summary

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

In 2002, Jehan produced an off-broadway show in New York portraying her vision of an evolving belly dance, with both traditional forms and stylized theatrical presentation. Although the show is designed to explore dance as a tool for spiritual expression, it can also be appreciated on the level of interesting entertainment. On this 35-minute video, Jehan presents 7 of the 23 dances that were presented in the show.

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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 Goddessdance by Jehan?
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 February 17, 2003.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Chart

Formats Available NTSC, SECAM, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 35:31
Performance Time 34:44 (98%)
Amount Of "Other" 0:47 minutes (2%)
List Price $25.00
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 70 cents
Cost For "Other" 50 cents

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Description

What The Show Is Like

This video features about 15 minutes of the type of belly dancing seen in many dancer-produced festivals and seminar shows, and about 16 minutes of dramatic theatrical choreography inspired by belly dancing themes. The underlying theme is spiritual exploration through dance, but it can be appreciated on the level of well-presented entertainment. An opening 4-minute compilation clip shows scenes both from the dances on this video and also from dances that were in the live show but not included on the video. For the most part, the dancers wear glittery mainstream bedleh (belly dance costumes consisting of bra/belt/skirt sets).

About half of the music is mainstream Middle Eastern in nature. For example, there are two percussion solos played by live drummers on stage, a solo to the traditional Arabic song Al Ain Moulayetein, and a solo to a classical Egyptian-style song titled Bahia. The other half of the music consists of Jehan's own compositions, with lyrics based on her own poetry. I found all of it to be well-performed and pleasant to listen to.

The individual segments appearing on this video include:

  • Opening Compilation. The video begins with a collage of compiled clips from the show set to Jehan's song titled Spirit Dancer in the background. Some of the clips are from dances that actually appear on this video, while others show glimpses of dances from the show that were not included. The length is about 4 minutes.
  • Serpent Rising. The centerpiece of this dance is Serpentessa with her partner, a large boa constrictor. Around her, the dance ensemble performs choreography based on a ritual/temple theme. Toshi Hamada & Ayshe appear as a male and female emerging from one large snake skin, and Jehan as an initiate. The music used is a song composed by Jehan titled Serpent Rising, based on a chiftetelli rhythm. The 6 1/2-minute choreography is lovely and mysterious, but I was extremely frustrated with the 2-second attention span of whoever edited this section. Rather than letting me appreciate the interesting choreography on its own merits, the person who edited this video leaped from scene to scene, superimposing images over each other and dissolving from one to another. This was the only piece on the video where this was done.
  • Celebration of Rhythm. For this piece, a live dumbek player performs a 2 1/2-minute drum solo on stage, as Jehan dances a solo to it. This is much easier to watch than Serpent Rising because the camera angles change less frequently, and special effects are minimal. The drum solo performance is joyous, but not as powerful as those I've seen performed by other dancers.
  • Al Ain Moulayatein. This is a traditional Arabic song, and for this show it is performed on-stage by live musicians using traditional instruments such as oud. While performing a solo to it, Jehan interacts playfully with the musicians and the "audience" (the other members of the dance company who are seated on-stage like the audience at a hafla). The use of dance company members as on-stage "audience" serves as an effective way present a solo dancer on a large stage while maintaining the energy level. About 6 1/2 minutes.
  • Prayer. The music begins with a slow heartbeat-like ayyoub rhythm, powerfully played by the percussionists. The camera begins with a tight close-up of Jehan tossing her hair zar-style. As it pulls back, it reveals that the entire dance company has joined in, providing a background of whirling and hair-tossing as Jehan portrays someone in trance. Gradually, the drumming speeds up and everyone's actions become more possessed, until finally the drumming reaches a wild climax. This is one of the rare situations in which I have found the use of special effects such as superimposing one image over another to truly add drama to a video showing dance performances. Usually, I don't care for such effects, but for this piece they enhance the mood and I find them enjoyable. About 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Fluid Mandalas. This fascinating piece is probably my favorite segment on the video. As the music plays the song Fluid Mandalas, Michelle Brooke appears as the muse of dance. Clad in an eye-catching white costume, she represents spirit and inspiration in a gymnastic/dance duet with Jehan, the grounded portrayal of woman. Michelle performs walkovers, pirouettes, and other airy-style moves representing the limitless potential inside us as Jehan maintains an earthy representation of the physical self. The contrasting styles interact very effectively and match well with words of the song, creating a visual effect that is fascinating to watch. About 3 minutes.
  • Joy. Jehan performs a solo to the classical Egyptian-style song Bahia performing U.S.-style veil work.
  • Illumination. This theatrical piece brings three different styles of candle dancing together into one choreographic interpretation. It begins with a very large red veil being held by dancers on either side of the stage to hide Mindy Haywood, who is holding a tray with several lit candles. She dances some with the tray in her hand, then places it on her head. As the choreography builds, it introduces an ensemble of dancers holding small candles in each hand. They perform a variety of Pharaonic-style arm moves, serving as a frame for Mindy with her tray of candles in the center. The camera pulls back even farther, to reveal two dancers, one on either side of the stage, wearing Egyptian-style shamadans (candelabra) on their heads. The music for this one is set to the poem Illumination. The music has a synthesized, New Age sound set to a masmoudi beat. There is some chanting, some recitation. About 7 minutes, and a fitting finale.

Although the Goddess theme of this show is clearly present, it comes across as artistic interpretation of myth. If you are drawn to Goddess spirituality, you will value the symbolism it offers. If you don't follow that path, but you can respond to artistic interpretation of such a theme, you're still likely to appreciate the beautiful staging and choreography, particularly on the theatrical ensemble pieces.

The sound quality throughout is excellent. This is one of the rare cases I've seen in which a live show with mood lighting actually resulted in a watchable video. The mood lighting is attractive and adds drama, and I never found myself cursing the darkness. Jehan clearly understands the importance of hiring professional videographers who know how to work effectively in this type of environment.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You enjoy theatrical interpretations based on belly dancing themes, such as Pharaonic numbers, Goddess themes, and similar concepts.
  • You embrace the sense of feminine empowerment that many women find in belly dancing
  • You love snakes, and you would appreciate a video that includes a performance with an enormous boa.
  • You embrace Goddess spirituality and you would enjoy a show that embraces the origins of belly dance as sacred ritual.
  • You enjoy shows that contain artistic exploration of myth.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You have a phobia about snakes, and it would bother you to watch a video that prominently features someone dancing with one.
  • You prefer shows that emphasize Middle Eastern music and Middle Eastern style dance moves.

In Conclusion

This is a beautifully-produced stage presentation. I particularly enjoy Jehan's interesting theatrical ensemble choreography, especially for the pieces Fluid Mandalas and Illumination. For her solo pieces, her dancing is fairly typical of mainstream belly dancing. She's professional caliber, but I don't find her as compelling as some other dancers I've seen. Still, her solos serve as a valuable change of energy level to lighten the mood set by the drama of the ensemble pieces and play an important role in the context of the overall presentation. I suspect I might have enjoyed the choreography to Serpent Rising if the annoying fast-cut editing style with its excessive use of special effects hadn't prevented me from seeing what they were actually doing.

I also appreciate the music in this show that features Jehan's original New Age-style compositions. They use underlying Middle Eastern rhythms, and the style reminds me somewhat of my favorite songs from the early Desert Wind music such as songs appearing on the CD Kali Ma. It was pleasant to have live musicians performing the two drum solo pieces and Al Ain Moulayatein on traditional instruments. I found that these two musical styles complemented each other.

It's disappointing that it's only 35 minutes in length. I would have liked to have seen more of the dramatic choreography of group numbers.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Jehan has a flair for creating theatrical choreography for ensembles that captures the flavor of familiar belly dance themes in a compelling presentation. I particularly enjoyed Fluid Mandalas and Illumination.
  • Compared to many videos I've seen of live shows, this one features excellent lighting and sound quality.
  • Jehan has a beautiful singing voice, and her compositions are lovely.
  • Jehan's use of live musicians playing traditional instruments for some pieces created a higher energy level of stage and enhanced the effect of the dancing.

What I Didn't Like

  • The fast-cut editing with excessive special effects such as superimposed images really annoyed me on Serpent Rising. Thankfully, this was not done in the rest of the video.
  • I was disappointed it was only 35 minutes in length.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Reviews of Other Videos Featuring This Artist

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos that include Jehan, choose from the list below:

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Disclosures

I have used Jehan's "Happy Birthday" music many times over the years when dancing at birthday parties, but I bought it without having had any prior contact with her. Jehan sent me a complimentary copy of this video, her poetry book, and the soundtrack CD to review.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Jehan as follows:

E-Mail: jehanarts@hotmail.com
Web Site: www.goddessdance.org (includes video clip from Al Ain Moulayatein)

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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