What The Show Was Like
This 50-minute video presents a well-produced theatrical performance
of Iraqi folk dances. The music throughout is played on traditional
Middle Eastern instruments. Sometimes, musicians are onstage
with the dancers, and other times there are no visible musicians.
The show consists of eight different dance sets. In some,
all the dancers are women, in others all the dancers are men,
and sometimes there are mixed women and men. For each set, the
dancers appear in different costumes, leading to a visually rich
effect. The music is all traditional-sounding Arabic music, with
varied instruments leading the different songs.
Neither the packaging nor the on-screen view offer any information
about the dances, what they portray, or which regions they come
from. For that reason, I find this video to be enjoyable as entertainment,
but offering limited value as an educational tool.
The eight sets are as follows:
- Wedding. A woman in red is led onstage by the dancers. (Red
is the traditional color in the Middle East and North Africa
for wedding dresses.) As she stands by watching, the other women,
wearing khaleegy-style thobes (richly-embroidered dresses) perform
the traditional raqs al-nasha'ar (what many people refer to as
"Saudi" dancing) with the hair tosses and thobe movements.
Interestingly, the music is not the khaleegy rhythm that most
people think of as associated with this style of dance.
- Men's Line Dance. This set opens with everyone standing by
while one man sings. Then they form into a line and do a high-energy
line dance. The leader waves his handkerchief in the style of
folk dances from Greece and Eastern Europe. I was intrigued to
notice that many of the dance steps resemble Balkan and Romanian
- Women's Dance. For this dance, the women carry tambourine-like
instruments. (The hoop frame like a tambourine with jingles,
but no skin head.) The choreography consists of many spins and
turns that emphasize the flowing cut of their dresses.
- Martial Dance. Men incorporate fighting moves into a dance
while carrying swords and shields.
- Men and Women. This set begins with a group of men who perform
a line dance with footwork rather similar to the folk dances
of eastern Europe. Then the men exit and a group of women enter
and do a dance with scarves held in their hands. The men re-enter,
and the entire group dances together.
- Sword/Rifle Dance. A man with a rifle and a woman with a
sword face off in a playful mock battle with posturing, hitting,
and parrying while the rest of the ensemble gathers around in
a frame formation around them, encouraging them on.
- Group of Women. This set opens with a mellower mood, gradually
building first to medium speed, then continuing to pick up the
pace and build in intensity.
- Finale. With slow, formal music, the entire ensemble slowly
wends its way single-file onstage in a somber procession behind
some sort of litter with closed curtains. I wondered whether
it was meant to represent a funeral march, but it never revealed
what was inside the litter. Once everyone is on stage, the group
gathers around it in a respectful attitude. The litter is then
removed from stage, and the group does a final brief dance together
to close the show.
I find the total lack of useful information on the package
to be annoying. The entire back cover is nothing but an advertisement
for the distributor who sells the video in the U.S. and U.K.
with a picture of the storefront. I also would have liked to
know where and when the performance took place. It looks like
it may have been an ancient archeological site, and since I'm
interested in ancient culture I would have been interested in
You Will Probably Like This Video If
- You enjoy folkloric dance presentations.
- You enjoy Arabic music, clothing, and dance.
- You would like to see a well-produced example of choreographing
folk dance forms for stage presentation.
You Probably Won't Care For This Video If
- You're hoping to study it to learn Iraqi dances. The camera
angles work well for showcasing the artistic presentation, but
they don't show the feet very often and it would be difficult
to learn the folk dances through watching this video.
- You're expecting "belly dancing".
- You're hoping for an educational experience. There is no
commentary introducing the dances, and the slipcover on the case
contains no useful information.
This video is enjoyable as entertainment, but the lack of
information about what the dances represent limit its use as
an educational tool. It would have been nice to have either on-screen
titles or information on the package identifying the different
dances with a few words about the region or idea each represented.
If the video on-screen presentation or packaging had provided
this type of information, I probably would have given it four
or five stars instead of three. Without this information, it
still offers enjoyable entertainment with surprisingly good production