Gilded Serpent presents...
The Golden Apple:
Bellydance Stars of New York
Running time 55 minutes,
WorldDance New York 2005
DVD Review by Eugenia

The Golden Apple features Jenna, Blanca, and Neon, and includes a special performance by Jehan, "renowned NYC choreographer and master teacher whose creative vision contributed significantly to shaping the three performers' individual dance styles". (The Golden Apple)

Released by WorldDance New York, this DVD provides an almost spiritual viewing experience.

Amazing cinematography, appropriate and tasteful close-ups, professional sound and visual effects as well as a beautiful backdrop will make this production one of your favorite performance DVDs.

Jenna, who some might recognize as the bellydance instructor in one episode of Sex in the City, dances in a traditional style, to traditional music. Her strong and curvy figure sways and moves with precision. In an improvised solo called "Lama Bada," she speaks with her arms, linking every movement fluidly to the next. In her drum solo, performed with live music by the Taksim Trio (Souron Baronian, Haig Monoukian, Mal Stein), Jenna demonstrates endless energetic shimmies. She communicates with the musicians with her eyes and expression, coming across as naughty and lively--a different side of her personality coming through her dance.

Jenna and Blanca do a well-choreographed double sword dance together, also to the music of the Taksim Trio. The two dancers begin the choreography with red and green veils, wearing corresponding costumes of full skirts and coin scarves. As the veils pull away they dance gracefully with two swords each, then one, which they balance on their heads.

Blanca, originally from Mexico, does two amazing improvised solos to Jehan's music. In "Oceans of Ecstasy," she dances with two candles, then switches to a veil. Her eyes are intense and magnetic; her torso slithers like a snake. Blanca controls her veil expressively, sometimes letting it swirl about her like a green cloud, then suddenly twining it about her arms like a long serpent.

The Golden Apple quotes her in her bio section: "I became a bellydancer against my conservative beginnings...against the notion that to be a dancer, one has to be a size zero, and start ballet at 3...After years of painful work, I realized that it was all for nothing...until I connected with my spiritual side and began to dance from that."

Blanca demonstrates this spirituality blended with fluid movements in the next piece, titled "Enter the Temple." She wears a gauze layered skirt and simple matching top.  Demonstrating incredible floorwork, she does continuous, smooth back bends with her head touching the floor, showing perfect control by sometimes not quite letting her head touch the ground, swooping back up in a circle, towards the front, and back again in the pattern of a infinity sign.

Neon's style differs from Jenna's precise traditional movements and Blanca's fluid spirituality. Publisher of WorldDance New York and originally from Russia, she demonstrates a versatility which expresses her own view of "bellydance as a sophisticated mainstream dance art". (The Golden Apple)

She incorporates traditional Indian dance moves, some modern dance techniques, and hip hop in correspondence to Jehan's techno and rap-influenced pieces. In one utterly hip hop moment, she kicks her knee up and bends her torso and head down to meet it, then snaps her body straight instantly. She also skillfully layers shimmies, undulations, and drop kicks all at the same time.

Neon has long, blonde hair which flies beautifully, a lean and sculpted body, long limbs and a muscular midriff most women would envy. She demonstrates professional knowledge of visual effects by often striking beautiful poses and pausing in them for a second. She can also change from one movement to the next quickly, and enjoys spinning endless circles while tossing her hair in abandonment, creating a dizzying effect for the viewer.

Jehan on back coverJehan, also a conscious master of visual effects in performance, is a true goddess. The size of two or three of the other bellydancers combined, she also moves with their combined fluidity and grace.

Watching Jehan's single performance in this collection was an intense experience--her speed, strength, swirls, kicks, dazzling smile, enigmatic eyes, hair, everything--make her a complete bellydancer. She projects with her eyes, snaps her hips and chest dramatically, and does the most beautiful undulations I have ever seen.

When she shimmies she looks like a waterfall; the endless coins across her midriff and on her hipscarf create wonderful shimmering effects. Jehan has truly perfected the art of isolating various body parts. After transitioning to sensuous floor moves, she at one point tosses her hair so wildly that it is both frightening and moving.

One can see that Jehan has the soul of an artist. As the founder of the Temple of Jehan Dance School as well as producer of Goddessdance, her importance and influence on contemporary bellydance is as clear as the power she has to simply amaze her audience.

So whether you're looking for intensity, traditional bellydance, or modern sophistication, The Golden Apple has it all for you. It even provides complete samples of music by the Taksim Trio and Jehan.

Only one thing disturbs me about this DVD, however--the cover. Why is goddess-like Jehan not on the cover with the other three bellydancers with their slim figures, long necks, and tiny heads?

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