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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

Belly Dance Television (BD-TV), Volume 1

by Roxalot

 

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Summary

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

Belly Dance Television brings the concept of a television news magazine to the belly dance world in the form of a DVD. It's the belly dance community's equivalent of a television morning talk show consisting of celebrity interviews, glimpses of events, and a bit of how-to information that can be put to use. Cover

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate Belly Dance Television, Volume 1?
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 April 15, 2004.

Note: Shira has a policy against video producers asking their students, family, and friends to pad the votes, or campaigning for favorable votes through their web sites. Click here for detailed information about the policy.

 

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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter Infotainment newsmagazine about belly dance
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 142:42 minutes
Time Devoted to Information 119:29 minutes (74%)
Time Devoted to Instruction 15:24 minutes (20%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 7:49 minutes (6%)
List Price as of June 10, 2009* $19.99
Price Per Minute 16 cents
Price For "Other" 77 cents

* Pricing information was current as of the date indicated above, but may have changed since then. Please contact the video producer for the most current pricing information.

 

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Description

The release of this video marked the debut of the DVD-based newsmagazine Belly Dance Television. Its content and style are those of an "infotainment" television show for belly dancers, with celebrity interviews, a bit of "how-to", and a rundown on entertainment news. In many ways, it's the Entertainment Tonight of the belly dance community. The host of the "show" is Paulina, who introduces the segments and conducts the interviews. This review focuses on Volume 1. Roxalot has also released two follow-up volumes which are also reviewed on this web site.

The producers have created this structure for the series:

  • Hip Tips (how-to, advice)
  • Spotlight (celebrity interview with a well-known dancer)
  • Rising Star (interview with lesser-known up-and-coming dancer)
  • News & Events (mix of news and event glimpses)
  • Feature Story (behind-the-scenes look at an event)

On Volume 1, there is a News & Events section covering four events: Festival of Dancing Colors, Festival Fantasia, MECDA's 26th Anniversary Party, and IAMED's Sixth Awards of Belly Dance show. Each of the 5-10 minute event profiles consists of brief (15-20 second) scenes from dance performances, close-ups of merchandise on vendor tables, musicians playing, people chatting/shopping, and other samples of what the event is like.

The Feature Story on this edition is a 26-minute behind-the scenes look at the annual show An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance. This includes interviews with Amara (the organizer), views of rehearsals, clips from the actual show, and entertaining footage of a few performers sneaking out for a cup of coffee at intermission in full costume.

The Hip Tips 15-minute section provides useful advice from Anaheed on how to care for costumes, including her secrets of how to remove cigarette and perspiration odor. After showing Paulina her techniques for folding costumes, Anaheed invites Paulina to try it. Paulina makes some mistakes (representative of the same mistakes viewers of the DVD would probably make), and Anaheed helpfully corrects her. This reinforces the lesson effectively.

The Rising Star segment features Urban Tribal, a tribal fusion troupe from the San Diego area. In the interview portion, Heather Stants (troupe director) discusses how the troupe's look evolved into what it is today and what she sees for the future.

The Spotlight consists of an interview with Ansuya, and includes charming archival video of her performing as a small child, as well as scenes of her mother Jenaeni performing. Alexandra King reminisces about being one of Ansuya's teachers. For me, the most interesting part of the interview with Ansuya occurs when she talks about what it was like to be part of the Lollapalooza tour with the Bellydance Superstars in the summer of 2003. This includes an interview with Jillina in which she discusses what it was like to work with Ansuya on the tour. As the interviews progress, the on-screen image alternates between shots of the interviewees and images of Ansuya dancing.

As the host, Paulina is pleasant and articulate. Her perky personality maintains a high energy level throughout.

Throughout the DVD, the focus of interviews tends to be on "chatting", rather than probing beneath the surface. For example, in the segment on the Festival of Dancing Colors, organizer Dea Koepfle mentions that they use the money raised by their event to provide scholarships to help dancers who can't afford classes or costumes on their own. To me, this scholarship program is the real "news" story here, and it would have been interesting to see that angle explored in more depth. It could have made the difference between a mildly interesting sample of an event versus an informative look at a program that promotes our dance form.

The video strives for balance in portraying the diverse collection of dance styles in the belly dance community. Regardless of whether someone prefers Egyptian, Tribal, American nightclub, comedy, or experimental style, there is likely to be something appealing.

Generally speaking, the production quality is excellent. The only segments that have issues with lighting or sound are archival video from the past, and in these cases I didn't mind the image quality because it simply isn't possible to re-shoot scenes from 20 years ago. The archival scenes contain sufficiently interesting content to justify their inclusion. I used headphones to watch the DVD, and was impressed at the skillful use of stereo sound.

The editing is excellent. On performance clips, the camera angles are well-chosen to let the viewer appreciate the dancing, and the editing allows enough time to get a good look at the dancer and the moves she is doing before moving on to the next scene. During the interviews, while the interviewee is talking, the on-screen image strikes just the right balance between "talking head" shots and scenes that complement the topic of the conversation such as performance clips.

The DVD contains an "Easter egg" (hidden feature): 11 minutes of outtakes from many of the segments. Although it's not the first belly dance video I've seen to include outtakes, it's my favorite. On other videos, I haven't found the outtakes to be very funny, but many of these make me smile. If watching the DVD on a computer, you can find the option on the main menu by moving your mouse below the words "Volume 1" and slightly to the left, toward Ansuya's face. Click on the starburst that appears. Another way to find the outtakes is to use your DVD player's navigation features to find Title 4, Chapter 1. If using a DVD player on a television, use the "Chapter Forward" button to jump from Ansuya's interview to the closing credits to the outtakes.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If

  • You'd like a taste of assorted belly dance events in California.
  • You'd like some suggestions on how to keep your costume looking and smelling fresh.
  • You'd enjoy seeing an interview with Ansuya that includes archival clips from her childhood.
  • You're interested in the San Diego troupe Urban Tribal and would like to know more about them.

 

This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • You've never found celebrity interviews and gossip to be particularly interesting.
  • You're not interested in belly dance activities in other cities.
  • You're looking for videos of full-length performances rather than clips.
  • You don't like the typical chatty "morning shows" that are common in the U.S.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • The concept is unique compared to other videos for belly dancers. I've never seen another like it.
  • The information is very well organized. Each section has a distinct beginning, middle, and end.
  • Diverse dance styles are represented.
  • The production quality is superb - excellent lighting, stereo effect in the sound, perfect camera angles. These people know how to present dance in a form that fellow dancers can enjoy watching.
  • The outtakes are entertaining and make me smile.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • There is less depth than I would prefer in much of the information presented.

 

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In Conclusion

I find this video to be an interesting first attempt at bringing the "talk show" infotainment format to the belly dance video market. It will be most interesting to people who have a lively interest in knowing what their fellow dancers in other places are doing, with its event profiles and personality interviews. It is also likely to be interesting to California dancers who are acquainted with many of the people or have attended the events. The segment on how to care for costumes offers useful tips, and is the only instructional segment.

 

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Reviews of Other Videos By This Producer

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

 

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Disclosure

Offworld Entertainment sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review. My only contact with them has been dialogue with executive producer Ann Berna regarding the contents of the DVD and plans for future editions. I should also disclose that I have a background in journalism and therefore I assessed the content of interviews from that perspective. Someone who just wants to be entertained would probably have been more easily satisfied than me with the "chatting" (as opposed to probing for information) format.

 

Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

To Buy It

 

Via Amazon Stores

U.S.

 

Contact Information

Roxalot / BD-TV
16930 Marlin Place
Van Nuys, CA 91406
U.S.A.

Phone: (+1) (805) 377-0753

Web Site: www.bd-tv.com
E-Mail: anab@bd-tv.com

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