Iraqi Variety Folk Dances

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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

This video portrays a 50-minute theatrical presentation of Iraqi folk dances by a large dance company. The rich variety in music, costuming, and dance styles makes it enjoyable to watch as entertainment.


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The Chart

Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 49:58
Performance Time 48:51 (98%)
Amount Of "Other" 1:07 minutes (2%)
List Price $35.00
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 72 cents
Cost For "Other" 78 cents

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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 folk dances.
  • 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 knowing.

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.

In Conclusion

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 quality.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The variety of the music, costuming, and dance styles.
  • The choreography is well staged to hold interest, and the show is structured well to vary the energy level.
  • The lighting is "good enough" and the sound quality is clear. The camera angles complement the performance rather than distracting.

What I Didn't Like

  • Periodically throughout the video, a subtitle with the name and phone number of Saut Wa Soora, the company that distributes it in the United States, shows up at the bottom of the screen and lingers there for a while. It's distracting.

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There is nothing to disclose. I have never met anyone involved in producing or performing in this video, and I purchased the copy that I reviewed.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Saut Wa Soora as follows:

Saut Wa Soora
2565 West Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804

Phone: (+1) (714) 220-0553
Fax: (+1) (714) 220-2099

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