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

A Review of

Bellydance Live, Volume 4:
Modern Bellydance

by Keti Sharif

 

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Summary

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

On this video, Keti Sharif offers insights into how the flavor of Oriental dance in Egypt today differs from what it was like during the classical era. The video offers a mixture of instruction and performance segments to illustrate the points made, with emphasis on the performances. Bellydance Live Part 4 VHS Cover

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate Bellydance Live, Modern 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 January 25, 2003.

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 Dancing to Egyptian pop music
Recommended Dance Skill Level Intermediate
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Total Video Length 53:53 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 8:53 minutes (17%)
Time Devoted to Performance 42:07 minutes (78%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 2:53 minutes (5%)
Choreography? No

 

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Description

On this video, Keti Sharif covers the topic of modern-day belly dancing in Egypt, with an emphasis on the direction the dance has taken since the 1990's with the rise of modern-day Egyptian pop music. Although it contains some instructional segments, the bulk of the video focuses on performance clips showing Keti dancing in a variety of settings. The clips are appropriate to illustrating the points Keti is trying to make, but she doesn't provide enough explanation of what to look for and learn from each. The end result is "collected performances of Keti Sharif" without as many explanatory comments as I would have preferred.

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 a weekly television series that always opens with the same introductory screens.

From there, Keti sets the tone for the rest of the video by doing a performance to "Batwanis Beek", a song made popular by Warda.

Following this opening performance, the video moves into the 8-minute instructional section on dance moves. Keti reviews several of the moves that were taught on Bellydance Live, Part 2 - Classical Bellydance, including jewel of the Nile, figure 8's, undulation, and others, then shows some variations that build on the fundamental moves. She doesn't offer much verbal explanation; instead, on-screen titles identify what is being done with the expectation that you can figure out the details out for yourself. For most intermediate or advanced dancers (which is the level she intends to reach with this video), this is probably a valid expectation. However if you don't feel comfortable with that format you might find it challenging.

Keti then does another performance, this one to the song "Efred". This 5-minute segment is very frustrating to watch because the camera spends far too much time zeroed in on very tight closeups of Keti's face, her hips, etc. This makes it impossible to see and appreciate the dance she is actually performing.

The next section, about 12 minutes in length, takes a tour through different kinds of performance venues. This is an interesting topic, valuable for intermediate dancers who are still building their skills as performers. Some of the clips in this section show performances by Keti herself, while other clips feature other dancers. It begins with a clip showing Lucy with a group of audience members on stage with her, then a nightclub section featuring Keti, a cabaret featuring various dancers, a restaurant in which Keti is dancing, an Arabic hafla in which Keti is performing, a party, a brief theatrical Pharaonic section, and a fusion of Arabic and Spanish dance in which Keti dances with two live musicians on camera with her.

I appreciate the idea of what Keti is trying to do in this section on audiences and venues, but it definitely has room for improvement. It jumps from one performance clip to another, with very little explanation about how these venues differ and how the dancer's show should vary accordingly. I never did figure out what the difference was supposed to be between the nightclub and cabaret, or between the Arabic hafla and the party. This entire section could have benefited greatly from increased voiceover comments offering insights into audience expectations for different types of shows and how the performance would change from one situation to another to meet such expectations. Some people might be able to determine this by studying the different scenes and analyzing what they show, but it's a subtle concept that would benefit from some descriptive comments.

The next segment is my favorite part of the video. Titled Lyrics & Gesture, Keti introduces the idea that today's Egyptian dancers lip-sync and gesture along with the song lyrics. Using a cute song titled "Kedda", she does a performance. For the chorus, on-screen subtitles show the Arabic transliteration as well as the English-language translation for the lyrics. I'm disappointed that the subtitles were used solely for the repeated chorus - I wanted very much to know what all its lyrics were saying. Keti has a wonderful idea, I just wish she would have done more with it on this video. Using this technique for all the lyrics on every performance section on the video would have greatly enhanced its overall value to me.

Next comes a performance section for the song "Harramt Ahebak" by Warda, in which Keti demonstrates how to interact effectively with the audience. Once again, some explanatory voiceover comments would have been welcome to point out what she is doing and why.

For the final performance on this video, Keti dances to the song "Min Habibi Ana". Like all the other shot-in-the-studio performances on this video, the camera work is extremely annoying due to its too-tight close-ups that prevent the viewer from seeing the full context of the dance.

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.

Keti has some very interesting instructional techniques on this video which would be wonderful to see further developed in the future. The idea of comparing and contrasting different types of performance situations could offer significant value to evolving performers if it were redone with additional comments that point out characteristics of each environment and what techniques the dancer should use to deliver a performance that is right for that environment. I would be excited if Keti were to expand the "Arabic karaoke" section in which subtitles identify both the Arabic lyrics and their English translation could be used to fill an entire video based on various Arabic hit songs, showing all the lyrics for each song, not just the chorus.

 

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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If...

  • You have a passion for Egyptian-style dance and you'd like some tips on how to adapt your own style to be more Egyptian in flavor.
  • You enjoy Egyptian pop music.
  • You like the song Kedda and you would enjoy learning a few of its lyrics.
  • You enjoy watching Keti Sharif perform.

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

  • You're looking for focused instruction in moves with detailed breakdowns of how to do each. This video teaches at an intermediate level, so its instructional section doesn't offer detailed explanations for every move taught.
  • A video consisting primarily of performance clips wouldn't appeal to you.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • My favorite section of the video is the "Arabic karaoke" section in which Keti places a few of the lyrics to the song Kedda on-screen along with their translations. It leaves me hungry for more.
  • In the fusion Arabic/Spanish section, Keti has a pleasant rapport with her musicians.
  • Throughout the video, the lighting and sound are high quality.

What I Didn't Like:

  • For the shot-in-the-studio dance performances, the camera work is quite annoying. It spends too much time zoomed in tightly on closeups.
  • In the Audiences & Venues section, where Keti is providing a tour of the various types of performances, I wish she would have provided more voiceover describing the characteristics of each venue and suggested techniques particularly appropriate to that type of show.
  • I would prefer to have had more explanatory comments in the section where Keti is teaching moves.

 

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Movements Taught

  • Sharp Hip Moves: Jewel of the Nile, jewel of the Nile fast, hip thrust, shimmy
  • Hip Fluid Moves: Figure 8 alternating speed, figure 8 with light hip drop, figure 8 with heavy hip drop, outward figure 8, outward figure 8 with hip thrust, maya, serpentine figure 8, dramatic hip circle
  • 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 has its merits, but there is room for improvement. It consists primarily of collected performance segments. Although the performances are appropriate to illustrating the points Keti is trying to make, she doesn't offer sufficient explanations to clarify what to watch for in each clip. Some people can probably figure some of this out for themselves, but others might not.

On some performance segments, the camera work zooms in much too tightly, making it impossible to see what Keti is actually doing. This is particularly true of the performances that are filmed in the studio. The clips filmed in clubs and parties tend to offer a better view of the dance.

This video offers a taste of some interesting topics, such as comparing different types of performance environments and teaching the lyrics to the chorus of a particular song so the viewer can learn how to lip-sync like modern Egyptian dancers to that particular song. However, I found myself hungry for more.

 

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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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