to San Francisco to attend the screening of American
Bellydancer to a largely belly dance community
crowd was like jumping into a hornet’s nest
of opposing views!
was surrounded by local rivalries, and strong deep-set
opinions that no one is going to change, especially
not me. At the same time, many thought-provoking
questions were asked and comments made over a period
of almost an hour.
Suhaila joined me for the discussion,
both as my antagonist and as my supporter. At certain
points, I will admit that I became depressed, because
some of our audience seemed to miss the point. In
private conversations after the public forum, I began
to feel better as I realized most people did “get
it,” and that they agreed that the film will
advance the cause of Belly dance generally.
I think I should explain yet again that the title
of my film, which is NOT "American Belly Dance,"
is in fact: "American Bellydancer." As such,
it is much more about the dancer than the dance. It
addresses the questions: What is the life of a belly
dancer, why belly dance, what issues, problems, and
challenges does a dancer face? Why is belly dance
important to women, etc.? Let’s get to know
some belly dancers and see what makes them tick.
Bellydancer" is also about a universal issue
to ALL the arts: namely art versus commerce.
In that regard, we find the Bellydance Superstars
and my role as a tool to investigate their issues.
It is, after all, an issue of broader interest than
any single art, Belly dance included. That is why
director, Jonathan Brandeis, chose
to use the Bellydance Superstars and me as he did.
Since the Bellydance Superstars are the current most
internationally commercial successful and high profile
troupe ever, the question of art versus commerce is
more pronounced than with any other outfit, making
us the obvious choice--if not the only choice--to
study this issue. In other words, the film is not
about me, but what I represent to the Belly dance
community. In the same way, it is not about Suhaila,
but what she represents.
other point worth mentioning is that any film, even
a documentary--especially one 90 minutes long--must
hold an audience’s attention. Hopefully, this
film will appeal to as broad an audience as possible.
Consequently, Jonathan Brandeis as a film director,
was always looking for the film's possible story.
Conflicts, questions, problems, and issues are set
up early to be resolved later, leading the viewer
to want to find out what is going to happen. Again,
the Bellydance Superstars and I became a useful filmic
tool to accomplish that need.
film is actually a far more comprehensive study of
American Belly dance than one session of viewing might
indicate. All sorts of issues are brought up; some
issues are brief while others are in more detail.
I am pleased to stand by the positive message
portrayed in "American Bellydancer" and
its power to excite more interest in this dance.