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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- You prefer shows that emphasize Middle Eastern music and
Middle Eastern style dance moves.
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
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.