Scott's Cd CoverGilded Serpent presents...

Scott Wilson's CD

"An American in Istanbul

Review by Dhyanis

This is one of the first innovative inter-active Belly Dance movie CDs that is enhanced by a Belly dance show and instructional movie for Mac/PC.

In reality, it is two separate entities: a solid collection of classic musical arrangements containing many influences, and a technically primitive attempt to utilize the computer for visuals.

Scott Wilson is one of those rare offspring of a belly dance teacher (Serena Wilson of New York, who wrote the first photo-instruction book on the art of belly dance in the 1970s that I carried like a bible in my salad days) who has always been immersed in the music.

He has invented an instrument with one lute-like acoustic box and three fret boards, and  he has named his invention the "balamahydra" because it offers three distinct sounds (oud, bazoukie and saz). You can view him playing this novel instrument in a short repetitive clip included on this enhanced CD.

There is a commercial for his group, "Effendi", in which you can see and hear musical instruments of the Mid-east, each assigned a country of origin. The Belly dance instruction section is comprised of Serena's voice-over, describing several dance positions demonstrated by Sahara, including a series of warm-up exercises that do not resemble Belly dance-relevant moves.  This section culminates in "Putting it all Together" and features Scott playing a chiftitelli on the balamahydra.

Finally, there is a short black and white loop of Serena, dancing in her early days of the then-prevalent Turkish-American style. All of these selections seem a bit low tech by today's standards, but are inadequate vis-à-vis the promises on the cover of Scott's CD.

"An American in Istanbul" is packed with respectable renditions of music every belly dancer should know by heart --and then some. 

Implied by the title, I was expecting to hear exclusively Turkish style music, although the cover clearly lists "Turkish, Greek, Arabic, Israeli & Armenian Dance Music" indeed, all of which are represented in this eclectic collection. The entire CD is laced with instrumental solos featuring each artist, many of whom are from the Mid-East, most notably George Strathos on clarinet, plus Rip Wilson, Scott's darabuka-playing Dad.

I was pleased to note that the CD featured two full "old-style New York (cultural soup)" belly dance routines (one 22+ minutes, one 19+ minutes) and a 6+ minute folksy rendition of Aziza that could serve for a quick belly-gram or festival program.

Ed- This CD is available for purchase here-

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
More by Dhyanis
An Evening of Experimental Middle Eastern Dance Video Review
Sausan's Saga at The Grapeleaf Restaurant

8-8-04 Sirat Al-Ghawazi, Part 3 by Edwina Nearing
Begun in the mid-1970's , the early sections of "Sirat Al-Ghawazi" were first published under the title "The Mystery of the Ghawazi." We are happy to be able to respond to the continued demand for these articles by making them available to our readers worldwide.

8-2-04 A Whole Latte' Shaking Going On, Belly Dance Comics by Alexandria
"Ok, I think we can stop now!"

7-27-04 Belly Dance Superstars at DNA Lounge page 2, photos by Lynette
More eye candy! Performing in one of the most trendy clubs in San Francisco!

Have a comment? Send us a letter! Or add your comments below.

Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

ad 4 Dhy & Karen