What The Show Was Like
The theme of this show is the romantic yesteryears of Hollywood.
Some of the dancers appear in costumes and choreography that
match this theme, while others do just plain belly dance performances.
Nearly all the dancers are skilled artists who deliver solid
performances, but at times the show seemed to drag for me, and
I found a couple of the acts to be a bit disappointing.
The performers, in order of appearance, are:
- Anaheed. A 3-part performance about 7 1/2 minutes
long using live music. Some lovely floor work. Serves as appealing
role model for how to interact with the drummer during a drum
solo. Pearls on her costume reminiscent of Maud Allen.
- Rana. Dances with Isis wings on sticks using taped
music in the modern-day Egyptian orchestral style. About 7 minutes
- Anisa's Orientale Beledi Troupe. Fairly standard troupe
choreography to Egyptian-style music. I didn't feel much of a
Hollywood tie-in on this one. About 9 1/2 minutes long.
- Marula. Dances to live music, has a pleasing rapport
with band. Style is very theatrical, and I didn't care much for
her artistic interpretation. In the slow song the band plays
for her, which is a soft flowing interpretation of Erev Shel
Shoshanim, her high kicks seem just plain weird and her dancing
feels as if someone hit the fast forward button. I didn't feel
much of a Hollywood tie-in on this performance. About 10 minutes
long, which was longer than it needed to be.
- Dondi. Wears a fabulous Hollywood fantasy costume,
a very revealing sheer dress with strategically placed glitter
teamed with a towering feather headdress. One of the best interpretations
of the Hollywood theme of this show. The dress is much too risqué
for restaurant dancing, but entertaining for this type of theatrical
production. I could have done without the long, droopy sleeves
- although she does some interesting dance moves with them, after
a while they just seemed to be in the way. About 9 minutes long.
- Brandi. After all the glitter immediately preceding
it, this performance is a welcome change of pace. The performance
opens with four drummers playing a heavy, repetitious beat walking
on stage. They are followed by four dancers in dark-colored robes
reminiscent of those worn by desert nomads who kneel on the floor.
The drumming transitions into music with a 6/8 beat as Brandi
enters, also wearing a costume inspired by desert nomads. She
performs a hypnotic "trance dance" resembling the zar,
most of it done on her knees. The set was darkened for this performance,
which fit the mood of the dance, but at times it was almost too
dark and I had trouble seeing Brandi despite the spotlight on
her. About 4 minutes long.
- The Sahlala Dancers. The four dancers wear long, flowing
dresses which are a theatrical interpretation of classical Persian-style
dance costuming. Each carries a candle in her hands. The choreography
captures the flavor of Hollywood production numbers. About 4
- Jillina. Her somewhat risqué costume consists
of a beige body stocking similar to her skin color with glitter
sprinkled across it, worn with a simple white satiny charmeuse
circle skirt whose slits are arranged to show a continuous line
of her leg all the way up her body. I admired the daring spirit
that led her to wear it, but I didn't think it looked particularly
flattering on her. She dances to modern Egyptian orchestral-style
music doing classical-style Oriental dance. The performance is
about 10 minutes long, which is longer than I thought it needed
- Jillina. I assume this came after an intermission
in the live show. Jillina re-enters the stage wearing a "typical"
belly dancing costume and performs to a drum solo. At one point,
the sound went entirely silent for a couple of seconds, but then
was fine again. About 3 1/2 minutes long. Skilled dancing, but
didn't seem to match much with the Hollywood theme of the show.
- Marguerite. She uses the live band for her performance,
dancing to a lively 9/8 karsilama with a momentary touch of Turkish
Rroma flavor. A welcome change of pace from all the Egyptian
style music and dance that appeared earlier in the show. Skilled
dancing, but didn't seem to match much with the Hollywood theme
of the show. About 3 1/2 minutes long.
- Leyla & Saharan Silk. This is the weakest act
for me on this video, because the group does not dance well together
as an ensemble. One of the dancers in particular seems to lag
behind everyone else on every turn, every arm movement, every
transition. In a show that otherwise features mostly professional
dancers, this act creates the impression that a student troupe
has taken the stage. Although the choreography fits with the
theme in its resemblance of Hollywood production numbers, I didn't
find its artistic vision to be particularly inspiring. I was
also amazed at how many costume parts they managed to discard
over the course of 9 minutes. There's not a feeling of striptease
to the performance, but three times in a short performance they
toss something aside.
- Farhana, Princess of Hollywood. I never did figure
out why the words, "Princess of Hollywood" appear after
Farhana's name. She wears an attractive belly dance costume,
but there's nothing particularly regal or "Hollywood"
about it, and her performance with the live band is reasonably
standard with no particular "Hollywood" flavor. I found
her sword balancing to be a bit disappointing, not quite up to
the overall standard of other performances on this video. About
8 1/2 minutes long.
- Tut Sisters. After all the sequins that precede them,
the Tut Sisters are a welcome change of pace. Dressed as mummies
and wearing masks similar to King Tuthankamen's funeral mask,
this foursome performs an interpretive dance to alternative music.
Unfortunately, they could have used more rehearsing to synchronize
their moves more effectively. About 4 minutes long.
- Mesmera. The set opens with two people holding a pair
of enormous feather fans. Slowly, they draw them apart, revealing
Mesmera behind them. Throughout Mesmera's performance, her two
attendants stay on stage, matching each other with subtle backdrop
dance movements and fan positions, lending a Hollywood flair
to Mesmera's solo performance in front of them. Mesmera wears
a very skimpy costume, consisting of medallion bra/belt set and
circle skirt showing her legs all the way up to the belt. About
9 1/2 minutes long.
- Jillina and the Sahlala Dancers. The group enters
wearing India-inspired costumes of cholis teamed with saris.
Their choreography somewhat captures the flavor of Hollywood
- Marilyn. The show closes with a portrayal of Marilyn
Monroe done by Dondi. In this enjoyable comedy act, she enters
wearing an Egyptian-style beaded evening gown, dancing and posturing
to the song, "I Wanna Be Loved By You, By You and Nobody
Else But You." At one point, she struts over to the band
quietly sitting off to the side and plays up to one of them as
if he were sitting at a table in a nightclub. Following this
song, the music moves into a lively drum solo, and "Marilyn"
alternates between fiery drum solo dance moves and cute poses.
It offers a perfect ending to a Hollywood themed show.
This video doesn't include any American Tribal Style performances,
and Brandi's appearance is the only folkloric-flavored section.
For the most part, it's a collection of standard "beads
and sequins" performances delivered by skilled artists.
The mix of troupe numbers versus soloists felt about right to
me as I watched it, although I did not find the troupe choreographies
compelling and several of the troupe acts could have used more
rehearsing before taking the stage.
Beginning dancers would probably find this video to be quite
educational. The interactions that some of the dancers have with
the live band serves as a fine role model for up-and-coming dancers,
and the diverse dancers demonstrate a variety of techniques,
including floor work, drum solos, Isis wings, sword balancing,
and comedy. But more experienced dancers would probably find
it less interesting.
You Will Probably Like This Video If
- You're relatively new to the world belly dancing and you
would enjoy watching a video that shows a diverse group of U.S.
dancers each interpreting the art form in her own way.
- You've been around the belly dance scene longer, but you
still enjoy watching skilled performances by talented dancers
even when they're doing fairly standard interpretations.
- You're intrigued by the vintage Hollywood theme and you think
it would be fun to see how various dancers interpreted it.
- You're enthusiastic about one or more of the dancers appearing
on this video and you would enjoy seeing a well-produced video
that includes her.
You Probably Won't Care For This Video If
- You've been around the belly dancing scene so long that you
are no longer interested in seeing the same old moves, even when
performed by skilled dancers. Except for a couple of the acts,
most of the artists deliver fairly standard belly dance routines.
- You'd be squeamish seeing some performances in risqué
- You much prefer American Tribal Style or folkloric dance
performances rather than the "beads & sequins"
When it comes to performance videos showcasing a collection
of diverse U.S. dancers, this is reasonably good, but it has
its warts. The lighting and sound quality are excellent, and
the camera angles enhance the effect rather than distracting
from the dance. Most of the soloists are skilled dancers, but
some wear unflattering costumes that detract from their performances.
Some group numbers are disappointing due to looking insufficiently
rehearsed. The Hollywood theme doesn't come through as strongly
as I had hoped, but some dancers embrace it effectively. I would
particularly recommend this video for newcomers to belly dancing
who would enjoy owning a video showing a diverse group of performers.
Although it's not what I would call a ground-breaking show, at
nearly two hours in length, this video offers a solid value for