Stellar Body - Belly Dance with Fire, By Neon

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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Summary

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

This video contains 35 minutes of interwoven performance segments by Neon to New Age and techno music using shamadans (candelabra), candle trays, a flower tray, veils, and wings of Isis as props. Her style is athletic and theatrical. Cover

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item

Amazon.com in U.S.

Amazon.ca in Canada

Amazon.co.uk in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
NTSC
All Regions
Canada
NTSC
All Regions
Not offered

To my knowledge, this video has never been offered on VHS tape.

(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I have personally tested this DVD and found it to enable all regions.)

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What Shira.net 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 shira.net think of it.

 
1) How would you rate Stellar Body: Belly Dance with Fire, by Neon?
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 August 12, 2004.

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The Chart

Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 34:38 minutes
Performance Time 34:38 (100%)
Amount Of "Other" 0 minutes (0%)
List Price $23.00
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 66 cents
Cost For "Other" $0.00

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Description

What The Show Was Like

This video consists of 35 minutes of dance performances to New Age and techno music by the New York dancer Neon using assorted props. Although structured as a continuous stream of dancing, eight chapter settings allow jumping directly to certain logical transition points. The titles of most of the segments follow an astronomical theme: "Arrival of the Celestial Object," "Meteorite Shower," etc.

Neon's artistic video production ideas are just as much on display as her dance style. She uses some special effects in various spots throughout. For example, periodically the scene would shift to a montage of assorted images: Neon lying on the ground in costume with a sheer veil draped over her, a close-up of a candle flame, a close-up of a tray of flowers, etc. Unlike the annoying random special effects in other belly dance videos I've seen, Neon's work is that of an artist who has integrated dance with other visual elements to create a unified montage of dance and imagery. In most cases, I find the result appealing, but a few spots make me scratch my head.

Selecting "Play" from the top menu opens the performance with, "Arrival of the Celestial Object." Neon dances with a tray of lit candles balanced on her head. Her image as a dancer is superimposed over an ever-changing background, sometimes of stars, sometimes of mathematics equations, sometimes of a close-up image of herself. Usually, I find such special effects annoying, but on this video I find it instead to be artistically appealing. I think the key to why I appreciate it here is that the dancing itself is always easy to see, and the special effect usually complements the dancing rather than interfering with it. This same 6-minute segment also appears on Neon's instructional video Belly Dance Party.

"Arrival" transitions smoothly into the chapters that follow, "Tidal Pull", "Meteorite Shower", "Interstellar Safari", "Orbital Eccentricity", and "Granddaughter of a Russian Missile Designer". Each of these sections has a dominant theme, but artistic montages and images appear throughout. The video's design can best be seen by viewing it straight through from beginning to end, rather than watching a chapter at a time. Prop effects include:

  • Wing-like swallowtail pleated organza "sleeves" attached at the neck and wrist.
  • A tray holding many candles balanced on Neon's head with a sheer veil draped over her face. She removes the veil while dancing.
  • An elaborate shamadan (Egyptian-style candelabrum) on Neon's head. Two on-screen images of her are each doing the same choreography (sometimes as mirror images) but yet are subtly different from each other. The effect resembles a pair of identical twins dancing a duet together - at times in unison, at times doing different moves that complement each other.
  • An almost propless segment.
  • A candle tray balanced on Neon's head as she holds wings of Isis in her hands. The constraint of having flaming candles on her head limits what Neon is able to do with the wings. She uses them mostly as a frame for her hip and torso moves.
  • A shamadan (candelabrum) used with Isis wings. Later, Neon dances with only the wings. Again, rather than doing extensive spinning with assorted wing tricks she uses them mostly as a frame for the moves her body is doing.
  • A tray heaped in beautiful flowers balanced on Neon's head.

The final performance segment titled "Stellar Nebula Hypothesis" is a 4 1/2 minute dance featuring another tray of candles. This music has a strong techno flavor, with some sounds of nature such as gurgling water and chirping bird calls incorporated into it. This same performance segment with some minor editing differences at the beginning and end appears as an extra on Neon's instructional video Instant Belly Dancer: Hipwork Plus.

Generally speaking, Neon's style as a dancer is theatricalized American style, with more athleticism, torso undulations, and expressive arms than would be seen in Egyptian dance. She does many movements that most dancers would find challenging even without any props such as deep standing backbends, and yet everything is so well isolated that she appears to be at ease doing those difficult moves with flames or flowers balanced on her head. All of her dancing with these props lies in the medium-to-fast range of speed, which makes her isolation and ability to balance them even more impressive. She does very little shimmying. The emphasis instead is on large, dramatic fluid movements. I would expect her style would particularly appeal to the younger, hip, club-going crowd.

The music is too repetitive for my taste. It consists of a medley of assorted New Age and techno songs that transition seamlessly from one to another. Each by itself is pretty, but all seem to be of similar speed, rhythm, energy level, instrumentation, and style. This unchanging collection of music leads to similar lack of variety in Neon's interpretation of it in her dance. Sometimes she balances a prop and sometimes not, but whether or not there is a prop on her head she does mostly the same moves throughout. Because neither the music itself nor Neon's interpretation changes much over the course of the 35 minutes, after a while it starts to feel like "more of the same" even with the variation in props. The video would have been stronger with more variation in musical and dance styles.

The production quality is superb. The lighting makes it easy to see the dancer at all times, and the sound quality is excellent. I normally become rather annoyed with special effects on videos; however, as I mentioned above this is one of the rare exceptions where the effects enhance the overall presentation for me rather than detracting from it. Neon's use of effects offers an artistic flavor without preventing me from seeing the dance itself. The camera angles change often enough to provide variety, but not excessively often, and they always allow me to see the dancing.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You are intrigued by dancers who balance challenging items such as trays of candles on their heads.
  • You want to learn how to balance a tray, and you'd like to see what type of dancing someone else has done with one.
  • You would be interested in seeing some examples of special effects done with an artistic vision rather than randomly jumbled.
  • You enjoy fusion interpretations of belly dance.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You believe belly dancing should be done only to Arabic music.
  • You prefer to see only Egyptian or Lebanese style, no fusion.
  • You are looking for performances featuring authentic Egyptian-style uses of shamadan (candelabrum).
  • You think techno and New Age music are too monotonous to be suitable for use in dance performances.

In Conclusion

This video is best suited to viewers who enjoy a fusion approach to belly dancing, using alternative music and incorporating assorted props. People who prefer Egyptian style music and interpretation probably won't care for it. The New Age and techno performances are a perfect complement to Neon's instructional series designed for party-goers who want to use belly dance moves in their social dancing, so I can readily understand why she used segments from this performance on those videos. For the rest of us, the video would have been stronger with more variety in music and dance moves from one piece to the next.

This video is the best fit for viewers who would appreciate a work that combines dance with other elements to create visual art, rather than those seeking a typical belly dance performance presentation.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The video production employs beautiful use of artistic effects.
  • Neon's athleticism and ability to do some very difficult moves while balancing props on her head are impressive.
  • Neon's costume wardrobe is gorgeous.
  • Even when using a prop, Neon keeps the focus on dancing rather than on prop tricks.
  • Excellent production quality.

What I Didn't Like

  • Overall, the music and dance are too similar. It would be better to have more variety in mood, dance style, and energy levels.
  • Occasionally the artistic effects distract more than enhance. This doesn't happen very often.
  • The credits don't identify the music used.

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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

Instructional:

Performances:

Workouts:

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Disclosures

Neon sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

U.S.<==Click here to purchase Stellar Body on DVD from Amazon.com in the U.S. Usable in all regions. (Amazon claims this video is Region 1, but Amazon doesn't make it possible for sellers to indicate that their videos work in all regions. Neon produces her videos to work in all regions, and I verified this through testing.)

Or, contact Neon as follows:

Email: sales@worlddancenewyork.com
Web Site: www.instantbellydancer.com

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