The Fourth Annual Awards
Of Bellydance

A Performance Video Review By Shira

Do you have questions about Shira's reviewing methodology, such as how to interpret the chart, what the categories mean, or what her biases are? Click here for an explanation.

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

I liked this video very much! It captures an annual show sponsored by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance in southern California. It features fine dance performances by a number of well-known California dancers, plus a few who are not based in California. The lighting and sound quality are excellent, and the camera work enhances the experience of watching the video rather than distracting. Cover

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What 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 think of it.

1) How would you rate Fourth Annual Awards of Bellydance by IAMED?
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 October 28, 2002.

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The Chart

Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 117:35
Performance Time 100:51 minutes (86%)
Amount Of "Other" 16:44 minutes (14%)
List Price $52.00
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 52 cents
Cost Per Minute Of Full Video 44 cents
Cost For "Other" $7.40

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What The Show Was Like

The first performer in the show is Alexandra King. While most of her music is classical Egyptian orchestral music (including songs such as Alf Leyla wa Leyla), her interpretation is strongly American-style. There is a brief 6/8 section in which she includes some Persian-style arm movements. The length of her dance is about 9 minutes.

Next, Jillina and her dance company The Sahlala Dancers perform for 8 minutes. The group is an excellent choice to appear immediately after Alexandra King, because the music and dance style are very different from hers, plus a stage filled with 7 dancers offers a very different kind of energy than a soloist. The ensemble dances well as a group, with playful, interesting choreography that takes advantage of the number of dancers available.

Laurel Victoria Gray performs her own original choreography to Azerbaijani music traditionally associated with weddings using traditional Azerbaijani dance moves. The 5-minute performance uses appropriate costuming designed by Laurel based on a 19th-century watercolor by Gagarin titled "A Dancer of Shamakha". In the opening, there are 3 different spotlights trained on her, from 3 slightly different angles. As she stands still and performs arm work, the shadows behind present a wonderful illusion, as if a line of dancers is behind her.

Zahra Zuhair delivers an elegant 9-minute performance. She wears a very simple chiffon skirt which flows beautifully as she dances. She clearly knows her music well, and her dance matches very well with the various accents and flowing sections.

Using New Age style music, Tamalyn Dallal performs an 8-minute dance of the 7 veils. Although I don't care much for the colors that she uses together, it's one of the best 7-veil dances I've seen. Tamalyn employs a variety of different veil sizes and shapes, and wraps them in assorted ways. As each comes off, she dances with it in a way that's different from the way she danced with its predecessor. She deposits each veil in a pile off to one side of the stage as she finishes with it. At the end of her show, she kneels in front of the "puddle" of veils, gathers them up in her arms, and uses a knee walk to make her way offstage. I don't particularly care for that ending - for me, it seems like an odd ending to what had otherwise been an intriguing dance.

Jindra provides a change of pace with her fusion of ballet and Oriental dance. To me, the dominant flavor of her dance feels like ballet which has been adapted with some belly dancing influence. She does some shimmies and undulations en pointe, and at one point shimmies down to the floor into the splits. However, ballet moves such as pirouettes and bourées en pointe, seem to dominate the choreography. It's well integrated, and enjoyable to watch.

Shoshanna dances in a pale blue chiffon ruffled skirt. She enters with a very long veil, then discards it and does lovely undulations. Later, when the music speeds up, she picks the veil back up and does veil work to the faster music. The length of her show is 7 1/2 minutes.

FatChanceBellyDance presents the only American Tribal style dance in this show. The group is represented by 3 dancers in a 7-minute performance. They open to slow music doing snake arms, undulations, and floor work. As the music gradually speeds up, they pick up the pace of their movements to match. They are the only performers I noticed playing finger cymbals in this show.

Hayat El Helwa opens her performance on her knees, with her back to the audience, in a dramatic arm pose as she holds a veil. She wears beautiful white satin gloves, and her veil is also lovely white satin. She dances to a song called "Ask" from Omar Faruk Tekbilek's "Fire Dance" CD. Her entire opening song is floor work. As the music transitions to a faster song, she rises to her feet, discards the veil, and picks up a sword. She places the sword on her head, then descends slowly into the splits. She performs a drum solo with the sword on her head, and spins while balancing it. Hayat El Helwa is very limber, and incorporates some powerful undulations and vibrations into her show. Her entire performance lasts 9 minutes.

SeSe and the Cairoettes appear next, with an 8-minute performance. There are 7 dancers on stage: SeSe herself, in a glittery silver costume, and six troupe members in silver and black. Unfortunately, the costuming, placement, and choreography are all designed to showcase SeSe with the rest of the group serving as "moving background". Despite that, I particularly enjoy the opening song with energetic drumming, although the overall performance was fun to watch.

Laurel Victoria Gray next returns to the stage for a second performance. The music for this 4:48-minute dance is a Persian song from Omar Faruk Tekbilek's "Fire Dance" CD. Her performance is a solo version of "Dance Of The Peri" from a concert suite called "Remembering The Legends." In Persian folklore, a peri is a fairy-like creature lured to earth with joyous music, enchanting everyone with her loveliness. Together with Uzbekistan State Academic Bolshoi
Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Laurel designed the costume and hat for this performance. Although I like her earlier number more than I like this one, it is still nice that the program included Laurel's Persian dance as a change of pace from the Oriental style performed by all the other dancers.

Fahtiem blazes onto the stage in a fiery red-orange costume, carrying a chiffon veil. Her choice of music, dance style, and costume is very dramatic. Although her overall 8-minute dance is certainly worth watching, the highlight of her performance is the segment in which she performs her superb control over her abdominal muscles. Very few dancers can equal her skill with these isolations.

The final dancer in the performance was Hadia, who performed for 9 1/2 minutes. She used modern Egyptian music, and wore a beautiful heavily beaded costume. She was truly at one with her music - her dance responded beautifully to every intricate tempo/rhythm change and every subtle accent.

The video closed with a 14 1/2-minute section that wasn't worth watching. Titled "Moments From The IAMED Weekend Event", it showed a series of brief glimpses of people participating in the weekend. There were people shopping, participating in classes, posing for pictures, eating, and clowning around. Some shots featured acceptance speeches by people who received awards. The camera captured a few people (fully dressed) in the dressing room backstage before the show, and also portrayed a backstage view of some of the performances. I suppose if I had been a participant in the weekend-long event, I probably would have enjoyed this section as a nice souvenir of the experience. But I wasn't there, and therefore as I watched it I kept waiting for something worth seeing to occur.

Following this, the closing credits took about 2 minutes to roll across the screen.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You are a beginning student who would like to view performances by a variety of talented dancers with very diverse costumes, music, and dance styles.
  • You are a fan of one of the dancers featured in the video, and you seize every opportunity to see this person dance.
  • You're tired of performance videos with blurry images, poor sound quality, erratic changes in camera angles, and poor lighting, and just once you'd like to see a video with high-quality production standards.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You've seen so many belly dance performances that you can no longer appreciate a show that is just plain good dancing by talented artists. If you feel the need to see something truly unique or ground-breaking, this is the wrong show for you.
  • Your taste in dancing runs to folkloric performances in historical garb to traditional music. The only ethnic/historical portrayals on this show were those done by Laurel Victoria Gray.
  • You enjoy watching troupes performing together as a cohesive group rather than showcasing the director.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The variety of different dance, musical, and costuming styles. The performers were obviously chosen with care, and their performances were placed in an order that highlighted the contrast between them. Because of this, the show held my attention from beginning to end. I never found myself becoming bored.
  • The dancers selected to appear in this show were all good dancers, and each delivered a good performance. All had beautiful costumes, and it was obvious that all were well prepared. Although I preferred some dancers over others, I appreciated everyone.
  • Each dancer was introduced by a title on the screen with her name. This made it easy to learn the names of the dancers that I didn't previously know, so I will know whom to watch for in future shows.
  • The lighting and sound were excellent. All too often, live shows optimize the lighting for the audience experience, and the resulting video is painful to watch. But on this video, the quality of the lighting and sound are truly professional.
  • The camera work was just right. The videographers varied camera angles and zoom levels enough to make the video interesting, but not excessively. I never found myself wishing the angle or zoom level would be different - it was as if the videographers knew exactly what every performance would be like and had coordinated with the dancers ahead of time in planning when to zoom and when not.

What I Didn't Like

  • The ending 14 1/2 minute segment titled "Moments From the IAMED Weekend Event" seemed like a waste of videotape. I suppose if I had actually attended the event in person, I would have enjoyed this section as a nice souvenir. But as someone who did not attend the event, I found myself just waiting for this section to be over. It included shots showing people attending workshops, shopping, posing for pictures with friends, clowning around, delivering acceptance speeches for awards, and getting ready to dance in the dressing room backstage.
  • Out of three troupes in the show (FatChanceBellyDance, SeSe & The Cairoettes, and Jillina and The Sahlala Dancers), two designed their entire presentations to showcase the troupe directors (SeSe and Jillina). The costumes, placement, and choreography were all planned to place the troupe directors in the limelight while the rest of the group served as moving background. Although both troupe directors are good dancers, this "Look at me! I'm the star!" presentation was disappointing - I much prefer to watch troupes whose presentation conveys a more community-oriented mood of an ensemble working well together as a group.
  • The show could have used more variety. Although the dancers were talented, it consisted primarily of an endless parade of soloists. To break up the monotony, it would have been better to have more "real" troupe acts (as opposed to moving background for soloists), more folkloric presentations (Laurel Victoria Gray was the only one), and more tribal (FatChance was the only one) just for variety's sake.

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In Conclusion

I enjoyed this video, and despite the areas I complained about I would cheerfully recommend it. Overall, it's worth watching, especially for beginners who have not yet seen much professional dancing.

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Reviews of Other Videos Produced by IAMED

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos produced by IAMED, choose from the list below.


Performance compilations:

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Although I'm professionally acquainted with Suzy Evans, the president of IAMED, I've not had the opportunity to get to know her well. Over time, we have corresponded about video issues and linked to each other's web sites. Suzy sent me a complimentary copy of this video for review.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact IAMED as follows:

P.O. Box 7666
Van Nuys, CA 91409

Web Site:

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