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A Review of

Bellydance Live, Volume 2:
Classical Bellydance

by Keti Sharif

 

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Summary

 

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

On this video, Keti Sharif teaches and demonstrates classical Egyptian style Oriental dance (i.e., belly dance). About half the video is instruction and about half is performance. Keti captures the essence of Oriental dance very well, but I would have preferred the video to contain more instruction and less time devoted to performance/demonstration. Production quality is excellent. Bellydance Live, Part 2 VHS Cover

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate Bellydance Live, Classical Bellydance by Keti Sharif?
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 November 23, 2002.

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 Classical Egyptian Oriental technique
Recommended Dance Skill Level Intermediate, Advanced
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Total Video Length 58:15 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 27:44 minutes (48%)
Time Devoted to Performance 23:39 minutes (41%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 6:52 minutes (11%)
Choreography? Yes

 

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Description

This video provides instruction and demonstrations/performances of the classical performing art known in Egypt as raqs sharqi, known to those of us in the English-speaking world as Oriental dance or belly dance. Teaching at an intermediate/advanced level, Keti offers several step combinations and recommendations for solo improvisation to classical Egyptian music such as that performed by Oum Kalthoum and other artists of the classical era. She does several performances to demonstrate how to use the skills she has taught. Some of these are in practice outfits, with others in full bedleh (nightclub-style bra/belt/skirt). For a significant portion of the video, Keti is accompanied in her teaching and performing by live musicians who join her on-camera.

The video opens with the same compilation clip that opens the other four videos in the Bellydance Live series, which shows snips from each of the five videos. This creates a level of consistency across the five videos, like a weekly television series that always opens with the same introductory screens.

It then moves into a performance section in which Keti is dancing to music played by live musicians who appear on screen with her. The music consists of songs made famous by the legendary Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum. Pieces of Keti's performance to this medley appear across this video separated into 3 different parts. The section here at the beginning of the video is about 1 1/2 minutes. Keti wears a simple outfit consisting of sparkly tank top, simple skirt, and elegant hip scarf with long dangling ties.

The first instructional section lasts about 5 minutes. In this section, Keti quickly goes over several basic moves such as figure 8. Because this video is intended for intermediate-level dancers she appropriately treats this as a review rather than as instruction. She then moves into some combinations built on those basics. This section could serve as an excellent warm-up or drill of the basics, with combinations that capture the essence of the classical Egyptian style. Throughout this section, three drummers remain on-screen with Keti and accompany her instruction by playing rhythms as she demonstrates the moves taught. Keti wears a tank top, hip scarf, and leggings, which make it easy to see what her body is doing for each move.

Next comes a 3-minute performance which is the second portion of the Oum Kalthoum medley. Keti effectively incorporates the combinations just taught.

The second instructional section lasts about 7 minutes and covers more complex moves and combinations. An intermediate dancer would probably already know some of these, but could learn from seeing how they fit into the classical Egyptian approach to interpreting the music and rhythms. Keti shows how to vary them with repetitions and level changes.

In the third segment of Keti's performance to the Oum Kalthoum medley, she again incorporates moves and combinations just taught to show how they fit with this style of music. This section lasts about 6 minutes.

Next comes a section in which Keti teaches a classical choreography based on the rhythm wahda l'kebira, an Egyptian rhythm which resembles a chiftetelli. This section is fairly substantial, about 15 minutes. Earlier in the video, when Keti is reviewing basic moves and teaching combinations, you may have started thinking this video was easy. However, in this section, you'll quickly feel more challenged. Keti approaches the choreography by teaching several moves, one immediately after another, then does a demo to show how they look together. Then she teaches additional moves and does another demo. The teaching goes quickly, and if you're not accustomed to learning choreography you may have some trouble keeping up. You'll quickly make friends with the rewind button on your remote control. Next, Keti reviews the solo improvisation skills from her first video in the Bellydance Live series, Introduction to Music & Rhythms. If you haven't watched that video, she provides sufficient information in this review to plug improvisation into the choreography she has just taught. If you have watched the prior video, you'll find that the 3-minute review is short enough so that you won't feel your time has been wasted.

With the teaching of the choreography, Keti concludes the instructional material on the video. The rest of the video consists of performances.

First comes about a 4-minute performance as Keti dances to the song "Enta Omri" played live for her by Gebali on guitar.

Next comes a brief compilation performance titled "Veils" in which Keti does Egyptian-style veil work to flamenco-style guitar improvisation. These different veil performances in the compilation each use different background and lighting effects, but throughout Keti wears the same costume and dances with a veil. Usually I rebel against mood lighting on videos because the final effect is too dark for the camera to pick up what the dancer is doing, but this time I enjoyed it for change! This video shows how to do it right - the colored spots and occasional strobe effects create an attractive soft, dreamy mood, but the camera is always able to show me what the dancer is doing and it results in a clip that's enjoyable to watch. One key to success is that both the background and Keti's costume are light colors, so even when the lights are low these colors reflect enough light for the dance to be visible.

A 7-minute performance to Warda's "Batwanes Beek" comes next. To me, this section is weaker than some of the others because the camera spends far too much time focused in on a tight close-up of Keti's face while she lip-syncs to the lyrics. I would much prefer to watch how she interprets the music with her dance. When the annoying camera finally does pull away from her face and show her dancing, she delivers an attractive Egyptian-style performance.

As with her other four videos in the Bellydance Live series, Keti offers a few closing comments to bring everything together, then ends with the same closing compilation clip that appears on the other four videos in the series. Just as with the beginning, it provides a sense of consistency and closure, like the closing credits at the end of a series television show.

 

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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If...

  • You have a passion for Egyptian-style music and dance.
  • You're a fan of Keti Sharif and you would enjoy a video featuring a significant amount of time dedicated to her performances.
  • You're an intermediate or more experienced dancer who already has some knowledge of how to belly dance, and now you'd like to learn/polish techniques particularly suitable for dancing to classical Egyptian music.
  • You'd like to learn some step combinations that capture the essence of Egyptian style.
  • You'd like a few tips on how to improvise to free-form instrumental solos.

This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You're a beginning dancer, and you don't feel ready for intermediate/advanced level instruction.
  • You're not enthusiastic about classical Egyptian-style dancing and music played by full orchestras.
  • You prefer tribal style, fusion, or historical/folkloric belly dancing over 20th-century Egyptian style.
  • You would prefer an instructional video that devotes the vast majority of its time to teaching with only a modest amount spent on performances.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • The combinations that Keti teaches are excellent examples of Egyptian style dancing.
  • Keti's performances incorporate the moves and combinations taught, showing how they look in the context of a full dance.
  • The choreography taught on this video is appealing to watch and works very well with the music it was designed to be used with.
  • Keti provides a useful summary for some of the key points from the first video in the series, Introduction to Music & Rhythms. She provides sufficient information to assist someone who hasn't watched the first video in understanding her point, but rightfully keeps the time spent on summary to a minimum.
  • The production quality is excellent. The set is attractive and well lit, with clear sound quality that is always easy to hear. Camera angles vary enough to sustain interest, but do not bounce around excessively.
  • At times, mood lighting is used to add drama, but is done in a way that enables me to always see what I want to see. Other video producers should study this one as an example of how to use mood lighting properly..
  • I really liked the table of contents on the back of the box. When fast-forwarding to a particular section, it helps me determine when I'm approaching the spot I want.
  • Keti's beautiful costumes are a feast for the eyes.
  • By using live musicians for a significant part of the video, Keti adds a level of interest and energy that enhance the overall effect. When she performs, she demonstrates a pleasing rapport with her band.

What I Didn't Like:

  • The camera spends far too much time zoomed in on very tight close-ups, showing only the stomach and hips, or only the feet. At one point while Keti is performing, it lingers on her face as she lip-syncs to the music. This really annoys me because I want to see her dancing, not lip-syncing. In the instructional section, the camera angles frequently make it difficult to see her demonstrating the point she is trying to make. This is the main reason I gave this video only four stars for production quality instead of five.
  • At times while showing performances, the camera tilts to a diagonal angle. This detracts from my ability to enjoy the performance.
  • Since this is intended to be an instructional video, I wish that Keti would have spent a greater proportion of the time teaching rather than performing. Out of about an hour, only half was spent actually teaching. Since she explains this dance style rather well, it would have made the video more valuable if she had spent more time teaching. There are many videos of good dancers who perform Egyptian style well, including performances by Egyptian superstars, but I haven't seen many videos that teach the essence of Egyptian style as well as Keti does.

 

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Movements Taught

  • Sharp Hip Moves: Jewel of the Nile, hip thrusts, shimmy
  • Hip Fluid Moves: Horizontal front-to-back figure 8, figure 8 with hip thrusts, dramatic hip circle, maya
  • Traveling Steps & Spins: Stepping undulation, wahda l'kebira
  • Sharp Rib Cage Moves: Chest pop
  • Full Body Moves: Undulation
  • Stomach Area: Tummy pop

 

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In Conclusion

This video offers useful continuing education for intermediate dancers who aspire to learning classical Egyptian style. It can also benefit advanced dancers whose background has been focused on other belly dance variations such as tribal but would now like some guidance in experimenting with classical Egyptian style. I wouldn't recommend it for beginning dancers, because Keti assumes a certain foundation of prior dance experience, which her instruction builds upon.

 

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Reviews of Other Videos By This Instructor

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

Instructional Videos:

Workout Videos:

Opinion Polls

 

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Disclosure

Keti has sent me several of her products to review here on my web site, including this video. We also had an opportunity to meet in person on one of my trips to Egypt.

 

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To Buy It

Phone: (+61) 412747447
Web Site: www.ketisharif.com
E-Mail: keti@iinet.net.au

Or, purchase from Keti's U.S. distributor at:

International Dance Discovery
PO Box 893
Bloomington, IN 47402-0893

Phone: (+1) 812-330-1831

Web Site: www.allaboutbellydance.com

 

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