Gothic Bellydance: The Darker Side of Fusion

A Performance Video Review By Shira

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Summary

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

The general theme of this video consists of belly dance performances done by U.S. dancers with a Gothic subculture aesthetic applied, although not all segments on it fit this theme. Some of the segments are based more on genres of dance other than belly dance, and some are music videos rather than dance performances.

The dancers who perform include Ariellah, Asharah, Ayshe, Blanca, Jehan, Jenviva, Martiye Possession (Ya Meena & Raven), Neon, Tanna, and Tempest.

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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 Gothic Bellydance: The Darker Side of Fusion, by World Dance New York?
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 9, 2006.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Chart

Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 1:21:33
Performance Time 1:21:23 (99%)
Amount Of "Other" 10 seconds (1%)
List Price $14.98
Cost Per Minute Of Performing Time 18 cents
Cost For "Other" 3 cents

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Description

What The Show Was Like

The promotional information for Gothic Bellydance describes its contents as including, "souls possessed by an ancient evil spirit; a black-winged fallen angel; an incarnation of Kali and Isis; a leopard-woman from the island of Dr. Moreau; a tormented silent movie vamp; a Gothic "Lolita" in love with Death; a wanderer in spiritual exile; a snake morphing into a human; a seeker violated and redeemed by divine domination; a siren exercising her lethal charms; a worshipper of a winged serpent; a flame whose deadly habits are all-too-human; a run-away gargoyle; a maiden transforming into a warrior sorceress; a haunting deja vu where victim, violator and avenger merge into one... and more." While some of these inhabitants of its dark corners are easy to recognize, others are not.

Most of the songs used for the performances on this video are not ones played in a Goth club, but rather Goth-friendly pieces by independent artists within the belly dance community such as Solace and Jehan. I can think of a couple of reasons for this, the most important being that music licensing costs would be dreadfully expensive if the video used any music owned by the big-name labels. But there's also a more subtle aspect - using music from the belly dance community that is based on Middle Eastern musical rhythms helps reinforce the "belly dance" aspect of this video's intention.

The performances include:

  • "Exiled." By Asharah. Song is by Solace. 4 minutes. Asharah's style as a dancer is tribal fusion. Her costume consists of a beautiful tulle bi telli (assuit) panel skirt worn over pants with a coordinating bra/belt set. I'm not too fond of the dance she does, mostly because the musical interpretation doesn't work for me. She seems to rush ahead into the beginning of the next phrase before finishing the end of the prior. Her stage presence comes across as bored and detached, which is common with dancers who are inexperienced at performing for video. On a positive note, I appreciate her strength, fluidity, and flexibility, and she has potential to be a lovely dancer. She makes me feel the Gothic mood of the video.
  • "The Journey Within." By Jeniviva. The song is "The Huntress" by Gypsy Caravan. 4 minutes. The first 3 minutes of this piece really work for me artistically, and I feel this dance really captures the overall theme of this video, Gothic belly dance. It appears that Jenviva's character is portraying an inner struggle, which escalates into possible suicide. Or, perhaps this piece is the one that the promotional material is referring to when it mentions that the program includes "a maiden transforming into a warrior sorceress". About 2 ½ minutes into the piece, Jenviva produces two daggers from her costume and moves with those as if fantasizing about using them to hurt herself. Then, at the 3-minute mark, the dance moves into a direction I'm afraid I don't understand at all. The daggers vanish, and suddenly she is wearing a large feather headdress and Thai fingers (long metal extensions that fit on the end of the finger and look like 5-inch-long metal finger nails). With this, she loses me. Her "journey" appears to have wandered off its storytelling path and into the realm of "I'm just wearing this random stuff because I think it looks cool." I'm grateful this lasts only for a minute, and the closing scene returns to the daggers, with the final pose seeming as though she may have plunged them into her chest. Aside from that unfortunate minute of Thai fingers and Las Vegas feather headdress, I find this performance very interesting. I enjoy the way Jenviva's musical interpretation aligns with the musical phrasing, and builds along with the song to a climax.
  • "Flame." By Ariellah. Song is by Nikolaus Kramer. 2 ½ minutes. The first time I watched this segment, I thought perhaps Ariellah was portraying the devil or a demon, due to her red costume and the hair sticks that look like horns sticking up from the back of her head. But after further viewings, I believe this is the performance advertised as "a flame whose deadly habits are all-too-human". To me, the overall effect of her performance is simply well-performed belly dancing with no specific message or character portrayal, and I'm satisfied with that. Ariellah's tribal fusion dance style suits the Gothic mood of this video well. She's a skilled dancer, with precise technique, and the phrasing of her dance fits well with the phrasing of the music. Just one thing detracts from this performance for me - Ariellah occasionally uses an arm position that I have also seen Rachel Brice do that looks very awkward to me. She brings her elbows close in to her sides, hunches her shoulders, and lets her forearms dangle forward. Aside from the instances where she does that, I enjoy watching her dance. She's one of the better examples on this video of Gothic belly dancing.
  • "Lovers of Teruel." By Blanca. 3 ½ minutes. The song is "My Cup Runneth Over" by Jehan. I can't see any relationship between the Spanish legend of the lovers of Teruel and this performance. The segment is more of a music video than a dance performance. The camera alternates between Blanca outdoors in the woods and Blanca indoors dancing rooted to the floor in a black ruffled minidress with a corset-like bodice. She swishes around ribbons that are wrapped around her forearms in a way that is distracting and annoying. Occasionally lyrics from the song appear on the screen. The sunny outdoor scenes provide pleasing visual contrast from the darkness of many of the other pieces on this video, and I wish that the outdoor environment had been used for the entire length of the song. My first thought, when it showed Blanca on a sunlit day outdoors with a sheer black veil was, "Ah, this will be a pleasing change of pace - it looks like a Wuthering Heights take on Gothic belly dance." But to my disappointment it turns out that's not the case. Blanca's dancing on this piece doesn't really look to me like a dance "performance" per se, but rather like someone partying at a local dance club. This segment really doesn't work for me on any level.
  • "Homage to Theda." By Tempest. 5 minutes. The song is "Monochrome" by Collide. In this piece, Tempest evokes the memory of famous silent film actress Theda Bara, who portrayed Cleopatra and Salomé among her many roles from 1914 through 1926. Tempest's costume is entirely in white and beige, and she dances with a sheer veil against a black background, suiting the "Monochrome" theme of her song. At times, the scene transforms into black and white, then returns to color. Text occasionally appears on the screen with portions of the song lyrics, which I find to be an unwelcome distraction. Tempest has exactly the right "look" to portray a memory of Theda Bara - her facial features, her body type, her artistic touches in her costuming, and her style of makeup all make her convincing. The music for this piece is played by a recognizably Gothic band (Collide), and Tempest's visual imagery suits Theda Bara, but I find that the dance doesn't hold my attention as well as some of the other pieces on this video.
  • "Kali/Isis Mystery of Life and Death." By Ayshe. 9 minutes. The song is "Primordial Womb" by Jehan. This piece opens with Ayshe holding a smoking cup which she places on her head. Her dance incorporates two sets of wings of Isis in differing sizes. Compared to other wings-oriented performances I have seen, this one is particularly interesting and innovative. She does almost no spinning in it, preferring instead to use the wings for gesturing and framing. I can definitely see the Isis/Pharaonic intention of this performance, though I'm not so sure about the Kali. Although I enjoy the piece very much, I feel obliged to point out that it contains almost no belly dancing. Instead, the style is based on the modern dance movement vocabulary. I enjoy the performance, but it's not Gothic belly dance because it's not belly dance and it doesn't feel very Gothic to me.
  • "Two Gypsies." By the duet Martiya Possession. 3 minutes. Music by Solace. Each of the two dancers is holding two knives, and the choreography depicts a battle between two women. Ya Meena and Raven dance well together as a team with excellent synchronization and polish, but after the first 30 seconds or so the simplistic choreography becomes rather repetitious and boring. The choreography seems like something that was created for intermediate students to perform at a recital or Renaissance Faire amateur stage, and lacks the artistic maturity I would expect for a professional production such as this video. The costuming is well suited to the dance. The stage presence of the dancers is rather detached, as if they are merely doing a rehearsal. This piece doesn't feel very Gothic to me.
  • "Come Darkness." By Tanna. 5 minutes. Music by Jehan. This performance seems like a fairly normal American classic style of belly dance veil routine - if I saw it performed outside the context of this video, I probably wouldn't think of it as particularly "Gothic". Tanna dances confidently and skillfully, sometimes using the veil as a frame for her moves and other times using it to paint pictures in the air. I find that her musical interpretation on this piece is much more to my taste, artistically speaking, than her other performance on this video. But her veil effects don't incorporate much use of belly dance moves, and the overall dance doesn't really put me in a Gothic mood.
  • "Delete All." By Neon. 4 ½ minutes. The song is "Déjà Vu" by Jehan. This is a combination of a music video and a dance performance. The first 30 seconds of the piece are music video imagery, which is interesting and Gothic-flavored, but I'm not sure how it relates to the lyrics of the song. I'm also not quite sure what the title "Delete All" means and how it relates to the song, the imagery, or the dancing in this segment. Neon performs in what I think of as her normal dance style, which is strong, energetic, and controlled. She wears a Goth-inspired costume and body paint. I enjoy watching the piece because I enjoy watching Neon dance, but I don't quite understand what the music video imagery that periodically appears in the piece is telling me and for that reason I don't quite see the Goth connection beyond the costuming. Neon's on-camera stage presence is the best of all the dancers on this video. I feel that she is really looking through the camera and making eye contact with me.
  • "Metamorphosis." By Ayshe. 6 minutes. The song is "Journey's End" by Solace, which is my favorite Solace song and is quite compatible with the Gothic tone of this video. This piece begins with Ayshe encased in a glittering tube of fabric, as a snake. Over the course of the dance, the "snake" transforms into a woman. Or, maybe she is a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, I'm not sure. Some of her snake movements don't feel very snakey to me, but I find the dance intriguing nonetheless. Like Ayshe's earlier performance, this dance is based on modern dance rather than on belly dance. It's an interesting piece, but I wouldn't call it Gothic belly dance.
  • "Siren." By Ariellah. 3 minutes. The song is "Cybele" by Solace. Once again, I really appreciate Ariellah's fluidity and musicality. Her dance shows a strong connection to the music, and is a pleasure to watch. As before, her piece consists primarily of belly dance movements in the tribal fusion style, with Goth-friendly music and costuming. Fans of tribal fusion are sure to appreciate this piece. I'm not sure how Gothic this performance is though. If you were to take away the dark backgrounds, overlays, and special effects, this piece would be equally at home on an outdoor stage on a sunny day. It doesn't pose a problem for me, because Ariellah's sinuous dance style, makeup, and piercing looks are compatible with the Goth aesthetic and she's one of the best dancers on this video.
  • "Fallen Angel." By Tempest. 4 minutes. The song is "Slow Descent" by Knossos. This appears to be the piece that the promotion for this video is referring to when it mentions "a black-winged fallen angel". Tempest enters the set at the beginning of the song carrying a pair of wings of Isis that appear to have been made from flowing black silk rather than the usual pleated organza. She uses them for about the first 2 minutes of the song, then puts them aside and continues dancing without them. This piece feels more dramatic and Gothic to me than the Theda Bara piece (her other solo on this video), and consequently I find it more appealing. The music, played by a band that bases its sounds on Middle Eastern musical technique, has a dark edge to it that feels right for this project. Tempest's musical interpretation comes across very well in this performance. I find this performance to be an interesting example of Gothic belly dance.
  • "Opaque." By Asharah. 3 minutes. This song is a drum solo, played by Solace. This dance performance doesn't quite work for me. A drum solo could have presented an opportunity to raise the energy level in the stream of performances, but Asharah's interpretation of it seems mellow and low-key. It's as if she's dancing in her living room for her own pleasure rather than dancing for the audience on the other side of the camera. The choreography suits the music very well, but again she rushes the end of each musical phrase, pushing forward into count 1 of the next phrase before the music gets there. I find her costume very appealing, with her red tulle bi telli panel skirt worn over flared black pants and the red accents in her hair to carry the look upward. The segment is belly dance and it's compatible with the Goth aesthetic, but Asharah's withdrawn stage personality and her problem with rushing the beat make me think of her as an amateur dancer rather than as a pro, and therefore she shouldn't have made the cut for inclusion on this video.
  • "Goddessence." By Jehan. 3 ½ minutes. Music by Jehan. This is not a dance performance; rather, a music video interpreting one of Jehan's songs. As the lyrics celebrate the goddess saying, "I'm a servant of your will… bound and tied in your eternal embrace," the onscreen imagery portrays scenes of bondage and implied Lesbian eroticism. There is virtually no dancing of any style in this segment. The imagery cuts rapidly from Jehan in a sex dungeon lip-synching in a diaphanous white dress which clearly shows she is wearing no undergarments, to scenes of one woman stroking another's body, to scenes of wrists being bound into place with ropes or leather restraints. It doesn't seem to fit either the Goth aspect of the video's theme or the belly dance aspect, which raises the question of why it was included. My only guess is that perhaps Neon included it as a quid pro quo to Jehan, in return for Jehan's ongoing support for World Dance New York video productions through allowing her music to be used at affordable licensing rates.
  • "Island of Dr. Moreau." By Neon. 2 ½ minutes. Song is "Error 23" by Michael Dommes. This performance is inspired by the H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, which has been made into a couple of different movies. In the story, an evil doctor and his assistant are conducting vivisection experiments, attempting to transform animals into humans. In this dance performance, Neon portrays a leopard woman. Her costuming is designed to make her look leopard-like, and screen overlays provide the appearance of vegetation from the jungle. The music has a beat that feels jungle-like. Neon's style of dance movement evokes the sinuous grace of a large feral cat, with dance poses that suggest the captivity. Neon's stage presence is the best of the dancers on this video, portraying attitude and emotion that come through the camera. Although the segment isn't what I typically think of as Gothic belly dance, the use of Island of Dr. Moreau as inspiration makes it Goth-friendly, and the dance style is definitely belly dance.
  • "Nataraja." By Ariellah. 4 ½ minutes. Music by Solace. Ariellah's musical interpretation on this song is interesting. Sometimes she is doing sinuous movements to the melody line, while other times she is doing crisp movements synchronized to the rhythm. The result is a varied dance with shifting energy levels that holds my attention. Her stage presence conveys strength and intensity that comes across in a way that most of the other dancers on this video are unable to achieve. If only she didn't have the issue I mentioned above with the one arm position, which she uses frequently in this dance. Her performance is what I would consider to be a skillfully-presented example of Gothic belly dance.
  • "Serpent Rising." By Tanna. 6 ½ minutes. The songs are "Serpent Rising" and "Giza", both by Jehan. I believe this performance is the one referred to in the marketing description of the video as a "workshiper of a winged serpent". In keeping with the opening song lyrics, "The winged serpent stirs from the slumber deep inside, patiently awaits, to take you on an astral ride," Tanna begins the segment dancing with a large silvery cape with sticks extending her reach, similar to how wings of Isis are handled. Superimposed in front of her are images of dragons, themselves winged serpents. Tanna then discards the cape and does a fluid snake-like floor work segment, which I consider to be the best part of her performance in this segment. Eventually she rises to her feet, continuing to dance with standing undulations, and moving into a segment of choreography that is not to my taste. As the song "Serpent Rising" draws to a close, the drum solo cuts in rather abruptly. I don't care for Tanna's interpretation of the drum solo, partly due to her arms flailing about into awkward positions and partly due to her exaggerated moves on the accents. This performance did give me that Gothic feeling, especially floor work part, and it is built on a solid foundation of belly dance movement.
  • "One Night in Gotham." By Jeniviva. 3 minutes. Music by Jonathan Daly. I believe this is the piece World Dance New York's marketing material is referring to when it mentions a "runaway gargoyle". Jenviva begins and ends this piece crouching on a balcony in a pose similar to that of a gargoyle beside her. In between, she runs away, dances rapidly with a veil, discards it, does some floor work, and ends with standing moves. I have mixed feelings about this piece. Its higher energy level marks a welcome change of pace from the slow music and low-key mood that dominates most of the rest of the video. Jeniviva's musical interpretation suits the music well, with the phrasing and transitions of her dancing matching those of the music. However, her technique on this piece sometimes seems awkward, as though she is beating the music too hard. I'd like to see her aim for more control and subtlety on the accented sections. Is it Gothic belly dance? I would say yes.
  • "Shawaza." By the duet Martiya Possession. 3 minutes. Music by Solace. Ya Meena and Raven do a duet which is mostly based on skirt dancing. They dance very well as a team, with polish and synchronization. Unfortunately, their choreography is rather predictable, and they themselves look bored as they do it. It looks like material that was created for intermediate students to perform in a recital and consequently makes them appear to be students. Judging from their technique, these dancers have some skill, but they need coaching on how to project themselves on video, and they need some development in the craft of creating "art choreography" that showcases their dance skills more effectively. It's belly dance, but doesn't give me much of a Gothic feeling, and I don't find it very interesting to watch.
  • "Ritual Means." Duet by Ariellah and Tempest. 3 minutes. The song is "Paradise Lost" by Solace. This piece consists of sections with holding props (sword & candles), veil work, traveling moves, and floor work. Interestingly, they make use of a 9/8 rhythm which adds a note of variety to the project. This choreography doesn't really speak to me. The title and the choice of props suggest that it's a temple scene, but I'm not too sure of what I'm seeing. When the dancers do full-body undulations with their profiles to the camera, they don't synchronize well with each other. The piece has potential, but could have benefited from further fine-tuning before being presented.

It's normal, when watching a video with such a large number of dance performances, to enjoy some more than others. My personal preferences are clear from the descriptions above, but other people may respond differently.

One problem that many of the dancers on this video seem to share is that they are weak in their ability to project their stage presence, attitude, and personality through the camera. This is probably partly due to the multi-camera setup used to film them, leaving the dancers uncertain of which camera to look at, and partly due to the fact that many dancers are unable to make the transition from dancing for a live audience to dancing for video. The dancers with this issue look detached and bored, failing to project their energy out to the unseen video audience.

I wish the video had provided some sort of indication of the theme/idea being conveyed by each performance. The titles of the segments and the songs they use provide a bit of clue, but not enough. As a viewer, I would have found it interesting to know which performance portrayed "souls possessed by an ancient evil spirit" or "a Gothic 'Lolita' in love with Death". Although some of the dance segments represented identifiable themes or characters, most came across as normal belly dance performances, without any particular character portrayal or story line, something that would seem perfectly at home in a typical restaurant performance. I don't mind the notion of a performance being just a performance, because I can appreciate skilled dancing whether it's portraying a character/story or not. But if a given piece is supposed to represent something in particular, I'd like to know what it is so I can appreciate it on that level.

The costumes used in the various performances exhibit a wide variety of approaches in applying the Gothic theme. People who buy this video in hopes of generating ideas for how to create their own Goth-flavored costumes will find it to be a rich source of costuming inspiration.

In considering the program as a whole, I expect that most viewers who appreciate both belly dance and Goth culture will find at least a couple of performances to enjoy, but I believe that the overall video could have been stronger with some changes in presentation, as follows:

  • The "Enter" option from the top menu, which is essentially a "Play All" option, plays all 20 performances straight through, without providing any identifying information about any of them. It would have been better to introduce each piece with on-screen titles identifying the dancer, the title of the performance, and the title of the song. If the producer hesitated to place this on the actual video footage itself, it could have been located on the subtitle track for the viewer to enable/disable as desired, or else included on a still image screen introducing each performance.
  • I wish that somewhere on either the video jacket, a product insert, the subtitle track, or the on-screen information there had been program notes identifying which theme each performance represents, if there is one. As a viewer, I would have found it helpful to know what the dancer was portraying, as that would have helped me look beyond the surface of choreography and technique, to feel the underlying message of each. Otherwise, all I could do as a viewer was to say, "I like this dance and she has clean technique," or "I'm bored by that dance and her technique is sloppy."
  • I realize that artistically this video was aiming for dark Gothic imagery, but often there was insufficient light and it was too hard to see the dancers' dark-colored hair and costumes against the dark background. I could barely see it at all on one of the televisions I used to view this video. It is fatiguing to watch for any length of time. A little more light would have made it easier to appreciate what the dancers were doing and eased the visual fatigue of too much dark. For example, the piece titled "Flame" could have been presented against a fiery yellow background instead of black while still setting a Gothic mood. "Island of Moreau" could have been performed with a background of a tropical forest or an open savannah in the daytime. "One Night in Gotham" could have been set against a background of purple instead of black.
  • With the constant darkness, the video had too much sameness of mood and energy level from one performance to the next. It would have benefited from exploring some of the more brightly-lit facets of Goth culture, such as slightly fey airy-fairy in a sun-dappled woods, simply to give the viewer's eye relief from the constant dark, dark, dark. Mystery and moodiness are fascinating ideas to explore in dance, and particularly in Goth-themed dance, but too much of it all at once quickly translates into boring.
  • The dancers should all have been trained in how to create strong, credible stage presence for video. Video stage presence skills are not the same as for live audiences in restaurants or theater. Too many of these dancers simply looked as though they were rehearsing in their living rooms, with bored, detached expressions.
  • The music video segments should either have been omitted or moved into a separate "Extras" section. They didn't fit the theme of "Gothic belly dance."
  • All performers should have been asked to keep enough belly dance movement vocabulary in their pieces to deliver on the title's promise that this is a video of belly dance performances with a Gothic touch. I would expect some moves from other dance forms in a fusion video such as this, but Ayshe's dances and one of Tanna's had little to no use of hip circles, figure 8's, undulations, hip drops, or other moves I would consider to be the core of belly dance.
  • Amateur-level performances should have been excluded from this project. Certain dancers on this program are promising, competent in their ability to do belly dance movement technique. However, they rush the musical transitions, utilize simplistic choreography, and have issues with stage presence. Although they may be skilled enough to perform in city festivals and belly dance events, they lack the "something extra" that people expect from dancers on a commercial video.
  • A project of this sort needs to coordinate with all the dancers ahead of time to avoid too much sameness in expression. It seems that nearly every piece on this video contains a section involving waving around large pieces of fabric. These performances involve capes, wings of Isis, or veils, and each makes sense in the individual dance that uses it. But in looking at the overall effect, there is too much redundancy.

Aside from my complaint above about this video being too darkity-dark-dark and therefore fatiguing to watch for any length of time, the production quality is beautiful. The camera work and editing show a deep understanding of how to present dance performances. The camera angles always show enough of the dancer's body to follow the flow of the dance. These change frequently enough to avoid boredom from watching the same angle the whole time, but not often enough to distract. The result enhances the dance rather than intruding on it.

For each piece, backgrounds and overlays seek to complement the theme of that particular dance. For example, on "Flame" a burst of flame appears, and on "Island of Dr. Moreau" the foreground shows purple jungle grass in front of the leopard woman. I generally find that these effects enhance the message of the dance, though I do grow tired of too many shots of the full moon in the background. Some people may find images of gargoyles, the full moon, etc. to be clichéd, but to my eye they coordinate with the individual theme of each performance, so I'm comfortable with them.

The sound quality is excellent throughout the video, with only a couple of brief places where the sound seems out of synch with the dancer's movement.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You enjoy incorporating aspects of Gothic culture into your day-to-day life.
  • You're looking for ideas on how to blend the Goth aesthetic with belly dancing in your own personal dance style.
  • You're a fan of music by Solace or Jehan.
  • You enjoy watching the tribal fusion style of belly dance.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You're expecting the music on this video to consist of hits by mainstream Gothic bands.
  • You prefer belly dancing to be done to Middle Eastern music.
  • You're looking for a video suitable to give to a teen-ager as a gift.
  • You would be troubled by a video that celebrates Pagan themes.
  • You would object to a video that includes a segment with Lesbian eroticism blended with bondage.

In Conclusion

As the very first video to feature "Gothic belly dance" performances, this one has established a foundation on which future ones can build and it has given voice to a widespread movement. It has room for improvement. In particular, some of the dancing is amateur rather than professional, some of the pieces are dance styles other than belly dance, and there are a couple of music videos that contain very little dancing at all. Despite these flaws, taken as a whole, this video creates some interesting visual imagery and can offer a rich source of inspiration to other dancers interested in creating their own personal fusion pieces uniting the Goth subculture with belly dancing. Even if you find only half of the video interesting, its affordable price tag will still make it a solid value for the money.

Although teen-age angst and Gothic attitude often seem to go together, I would suggest that anyone considering this video as a gift for a young friend or family member carefully read the segments of my description regarding Jenviva's performance titled "The Journey Within", Martiye's Possession's performance of "Two Gypsies", and Jehan's music video segment titled "Goddessence." Some families may prefer to avoid gifting their youngsters with this video due to its imagery of daggers, implied suicide, Lesbian eroticism, and bondage, while others may not mind.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • It contains a number of interesting performances.
  • The dance styles of the performers offer enough variety to hold my attention.
  • It breaks new ground, by being the first video of Gothic belly dance performances to be released.
  • The camera angles allow viewers to appreciate the dancing.
  • The project as a whole feels artistically crafted.
  • Detailed credits identify the music utilized, the choreographers, and the costume designers.

What I Didn't Like

  • The "play all" section doesn't contain any identifying information to indicate who each dancer is, or what the theme/message of her performance is supposed to be.
  • Some of the performers are not skilled enough to meet the standards of professionalism I would expect for a video that is sold commercially worldwide.
  • Some segments are music videos that contain almost no dancing.
  • Not all the performances use belly dancing movement vocabulary.
  • There is an overabundance of large pieces of cloth (veils, wings, capes) being waved around.
  • There is not enough light, which makes it hard to see several of the performances and fatiguing to watch.
  • Several performers don't understand how to project stage presence for video.
  • Not enough variation in energy level and visual imagery from one performance to another.

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Reviews of Other Videos by these Artists

If you'd like to read my reviews of other works featuring the artists appearing in this video, choose from the list below.

Instructional by Neon:

Workouts by the dancers featured on this video:

Other performances by the dancers featured on this video:

Show Produced by Jehan:

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Disclosures

I am not personally involved with Gothic subculture, though I'm familiar enough with it to understand what this video is exploring, and I'm open-minded about fusion of belly dance with other aesthetic influences. I have been acquainted for some years with one of the dancers involved with this project (Tempest) through years of cordial contact at assorted belly dance events in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have reviewed many videos produced by World Dance New York, and as a result have come to be acquainted with Neon as a respected colleague. I received a complimentary copy of this video to use for review purposes.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

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.
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(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. I have personally tested this DVD and found it to enable all regions.)

Or, contact World Dance New York as follows:

Email: video@worlddancenewyork.com
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