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

A Review of

Bellydance Live, Volume 3:
Folkloric Dance

by Keti Sharif

 

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Summary

 

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

About half of this video is documentary about the folkloric dances of Egypt. As Keti narrates in voiceover, it shows clips of folkloric dances, including cane, zeffa, sagat, milaya, Andalusion, tanoura, and others. The rest of the video includes a baladi-style performance by Keti and instruction in some baladi-style moves. Bellydance Live Volume 3 VHS Cover

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate Bellydance Live, Folkloric Dance 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 26, 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 Folkloric dances of Egypt
Recommended Dance Skill Level Beginner & Intermediate
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Total Video Length 54:56 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 16:08 minutes (29%)
Time Devoted to Performance 4:35 minutes (9%)
Time Devoted to Documentary 27:10 minutes (49%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 7:03 minutes (13%)
Choreography? No

 

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Description

This video provides an introduction to the folkloric dances of Egypt, with a couple from surrounding areas as well. If you're already knowledgeable about the folk forms from Egypt such as milaya leff and raqs al assaya (cane), then you probably won't learn much from this video. But if your dance education up until now hasn't included much coverage of the folkloric dances from Egypt, then this video offers a pleasing first look.

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, similar to the way a weekly television series always opens with the same introductory screens.

The content of the video then begins with a baladi-style performance by Keti Sharif to the song "Tigi Ne'sem El Amar". Clad in a baladi dress, pantaloons, and head veil, Keti shares the stage with two musicians. The ones on stage with her are clad in traditional Egyptian gallabiyas (clothing), while the rest of the orchestra seated behind them playing more modern instruments are wearing shirts, ties, and dress slacks. This is very much in keeping with the way Egyptian orchestras typically dress when playing for dancers, and provides the viewer with an authentic glimpse of Egypt. This performance offers an effective example of interaction between a dancer and musicians, to raise the energy level, show a sense of fun, and draw the audience in. Nicely done!

Next comes an 11-minute instructional segment in which Keti teaches several dance moves that work well with folkloric Egyptian rhythms, including fellahi, baladi, maqsoum, and Saidi. This instruction is taught at the level of a beginner or early intermediate who has already mastered basics such as hip lifts and is now ready for combinations. A more experienced dancer who has not previously studied folklore would probably find that this section moves along quickly enough to be useful. In this section, as each new rhythm is introduced, text appeared on the screen identifying the name of the rhythm. This is presented as a review of rhythms taught on Part 1 of Keti's Bellydance Live video series, Introduction to Music & Rhythms, so it doesn't attempt to cover each in detail.

The next major segment of this video is my favorite part, Folkloric Styles. While the screen shows varied dance scenes, Keti's voiceover describes different folkloric dances of the Middle East and North Africa, with emphasis on Egypt. The narrative provides excellent background into the folk history of the different dances shown. In most of this section, the production quality is not as superb as the quality on the rest of the video. That's because many of these scenes have been filmed in environments where Keti did not have control over environmental conditions such as lighting, whether people were in the way of the camera, etc. I was actually quite impressed that the production quality is as good as it is, given what I've seen firsthand of conditions for filming performances when I have been in Egypt!

The dance styles presented include:

  • Cane Dance - Saiidi. Length is about 5 1/4 minutes. Conveys the flavor of this dance effectively. However, given that some later segments are less than a minute long, I would have preferred this one to be shorter, perhaps around 2 1/2 or 3 minutes, to fit in more time for the other dances.
  • Zaffah - Egyptian Wedding. Length is about 4 1/4 minutes. Live footage of a real zeffa. The images are a bit scattered and it's often hard to tell what the dancers are doing, but I find this acceptable because it accurately portrays how dance fits into ordinary people's lives. This works on the level of cultural education, as opposed to dance exhibition, and is very appropriate to the topic of this video.
  • Sagat - Finger Cymbals. Length is about 3 3/4 minutes. The first part of this section shows one of Keti's musicians doing a masterful demonstration of finger cymbals used as a musical instrument. I think it may have been the same clip that appeared on Part 1, Introduction to Music & Rhythms, but I enjoy it so much I don't mind seeing it again. The second part of this section shows Keti wearing a baladi dress dancing to folkloric music and playing finger cymbals. Unfortunately, the sound really doesn't pick up the sound of her cymbals, so the clip doesn't fully serve its purpose. Although Keti dances well, I think dancers viewing this video are somewhat familiar with how it looks and sounds when someone plays finger cymbals, so I would have preferred to keep this section shorter to make room for one of the later sections to be longer.
  • Shamadan - Candle Dance. This section is that it is only 1 minute long, which I find disappointing. It's done well, but 1 minute doesn't do justice to this dance. I would have preferred something more in the neighborhood of 3 minutes. It's also debatable whether shamadan is a "folkloric" dance (and therefore appropriate for inclusion on a video about folkloric dance) or a "theatrical dance" which has become traditional.
  • Eskenderaya - Alexandrian Folk Dance. This too is only 1 minute in length, and once again I would have preferred something longer, about 3 minutes.
  • Milaya - Veil Dance from Alexandria. This is a cute 2-minute segment on melaya leff, a made-for-the-stage representation of folk culture in the style of Reda Troupe.
  • El Fayoum - Village Dance. This is only 45 seconds long, and after viewing it I'm still not sure what this dance actually looks like.
  • El Haggala - Dance of the Western Desert. This too is only 45 seconds long, and again it leaves me thinking it hasn't enlightened me on what the dance looks like.
  • Khaleegee - Arabian Gulf Dance. Now this one is just ridiculously short - it's only 26 seconds long. Just enough time for a few hair flips. I really enjoy watching Khaleegy dance, so I was very disappointed at the short length of this segment. Considering that Khaleegy dance represents a geographic region outside of Egypt, this segment could have been further strengthened with an explanation of why Egyptian dance shows often include Khaleegy segments. (It's because one of the dominant audiences for belly dance in Egypt consists of Arabs from the Persian Gulf region, and a dancer acknowledges this audience by including their native folk dance in her set.)
  • Andalusian - Moorish Dance. With this piece being nearly 5 minutes in length, it seems odd to me that a dance representing Morocco would be given 5 times as much space on a video about Egyptian dance as the shamadan, which was born in Egypt. The clip is good, but while watching it I kept thinking, "This is going on and on, while the haggala was over before it even got started...." Andalusian style was brought into Egyptian dance theater by Reda Troupe, which is probably why it has been included, but it has been given a disproportionate amount of time compared to more local Egyptian folk styles.
  • Tanoura - Whirling. This clip is 3 minutes long, and it provides an excellent glimpse into the Egyptian variation of whirling dervish known as tanoura. A full-length tanoura performance can last a half hour or more. In this clip, Keti shows enough to capture the essence of this traditional moving meditation while still leaving time for the other dances. Well done!

After the folkloric section comes Routines for Stage, which talks about adapting folklore to stage, particularly for group performances. It shows several performance clips of ensembles, with some voiceover providing advice on how to do choreography for a group. While the voiceover provides some valid suggestions, the accompanying clips offer only limited educational value and I felt that the 4 1/2 minutes devoted to this section could have better been spent allowing more time for the too-short segments in the Folkloric Styles section.

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, similar to 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 love folkloric dance, and you don't yet know much about the particular folk forms of Egypt.
  • You're a belly dancer whose previous dance education hasn't touched on Egypt's folkloric forms, and you'd like to start exploring this area.
  • You have a passion for all aspects of Egyptian dance, including folkloric forms as well as Oriental dance.

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

  • You're already quite well informed about Egyptian folkloric dances and you're looking for a source of more in-depth knowledge and instruction.
  • You have no interest in historic/ethnic dance forms - you much prefer either 20th century Oriental with its beads and sequins, American Tribal Style with its bouncing tassels, fusion to alternative music, or some other more modern form.
  • You're looking for instruction in particular folk forms such as haggala or cane.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • Keti offers a nice overview of the folkloric dances of Egypt.
  • The video includes some footage from local events, such as a couple of actual wedding zeffas.
  • In the instructional section, Keti teaches some good moves and covers good tips for folkloric dance.
  • Keti uses live musicians for the opening performance and instruction sections. Having two of the musicians clad in folkloric garb for the opening performance was particularly effective, especially when they did a bit of dancing of their own. Overall, it came across as a dancer and musicians having a good time jamming together. And that, after all, is the whole point of "real" folk dances!
  • In the instructional section, on-screen titles identified which rhythm was being played by the musicians. It might have been nice if the title had lingered on screen slightly longer, but it was good musical education to include this information.

What I Didn't Like:

  • I found the "Routines for Stage" section to be rather weak. The performance clips weren't very inspiring, and the information in the narrative was a bit superficial.
  • In the documentary section, the clips showing some of the folkloric dances were much too short. I was puzzled that a non-Egyptian dance (Andalusian) was allowed nearly 5 minutes of time, while born-in-Egypt dances such as shamadan and haggala received only cursory treatment.
  • The video offered very little costuming advice for folkloric forms.
  • Although the picture of Keti on the front cover was quite cute, it might have been more effective to depict Keti wearing a folkloric costume for this particular video.

 

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Movements Taught

  • Sharp Hip Moves: Jump to side with hip lift, accented hip thrusts, wahde we noss
  • Traveling Steps & Spins: Shimmy down walk, step/lift which some American teachers call Basic Egyptian, backward step-together-step, cross-point which some American teachers call Basic Egyptian with crossover

 

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In Conclusion

For beginners who have been studying belly dance for a few months or for intermediates who haven't had much folkloric instruction, this video offers some moves that fit well with folkloric Egyptian music and dance style. The documentary section provides a pleasant starting point for learning about the various folkloric dances of Egypt and is suitable for dancers of all levels as well as non-dancers. It doesn't offer much depth of information on any one particular dance, but it provides enough introduction to help someone who doesn't yet know much about traditional Egyptian dances identify areas to study in further detail.

 

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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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