“Around the World”
DVD Report by
art of Oriental Dancing is taken to new heights as Amani
of Lebanon has released her new DVD in Lebanon in January,
2005, “Amani Around the World”. She has put her dancing
on stage and has created numerous theatre productions in
the past 10 years and this show is the first one on DVD.
Traditionally enjoyed in the dinner theatre, Oriental dancing
has recently ventured into the world of staged theatre and
Amani’s shows set the standard. This new DVD is a
production that Amani is taking on the road to tour around
immense knowledge of Oriental Dancing in antiquity and
various folkloric dance styles, coupled with her dynamic
stage presence make this an unforgettable DVD.
was left out in this show or on the DVD Bonus Features;
every detail was lovingingly taken cared of, and Amani herself
dances in 15 different pieces within the same show!
Amani’s stage director is Gerard Avedissian,
and he has finely tuned this show into a beautiful work
DVD includes the following:
Show: “Around the World”, filmed in Beirut,
Interview with Amani: it is filmed outside in
various cultural locations in Lebanon.
Tips: this is where Amani takes you into the
studio for discussion of dance history and practice with
Shows: A peek into the upcoming DVD from Amani,
“The Days and Nights of Amani”.
show consists of the following:
African-Maghreb: “Moroccan wedding ceremony
& dance”, choreographed by Georgette Gebara,
music composed and arranged by Orchestre National
This is a delightful choreography opening the show with
Amani being brought in on a “hawdaj” up to the stage as
she acts as the “bride” in this piece.
costuming is all in white and it makes a brilliant contrast
to the dark theatre.
choreographer in this piece, has taken a ballet approach
to staging this piece, and Amani has added Moroccan movement
to her solo. The impact of the white costumes and
the fun-spirited, lively atmosphere of this dance makes
it engaging to watch and a great opener; by the end of the
show one feels as if Amani’s spirit is indeed married to
the soul of Oriental dance
“Naz bar” & “Kotchari bar” dances, choreographed
by Felix Haroutiounian to traditional music
arranged by Ludwig Gharibian of Folk Lab.
After the joyous opening act, one enters into a more somber
mood with the sound of the Duduk (Armenian flute) heard
singing its song and Amani enters to begin the “Naz Bar”,
or women’s dance of Armenia. Her rendition is quite
authentic, and her red and gold costuming brings strength
to the soft, flowing movements that are indicative of Caucasian
dance. Her solo is short, and then members of her
company join her on stage for a fast-paced Armenian group
folkdance, complete with line-dancing, Armenian style.
There are some very impressive moves done by the male dancers
in this group;
duo hold hands and while bending forward flat-backed,
they hurl their legs up one person at a time, which causes
the pair to “fly” in a circle!
amazing to watch, and really shows the zest for life and
cleverness of the Armenian people.
Arabic Dance, Baladi Solo: “Solo Accordian”,
choreographed by Amani to traditional music.
This piece opens with Amani appearing as if in moonlight;
the lighting is a soft blue with white stars, and her costume
is white and silver. Also, there are live musicians
on stage with her, which made the piece appear more “authentic”.
She does her solo baladi style with a fluid grace and emotional
intensity that is only Amani. She begins the piece
with a silver veil but quickly discards it to reveal the
Earthy movements of Baladi, Amani-style. This was
my personal favorite, as I could really contrast it with
Egyptian style baladi, something I have been studying lately.
piece in particular I felt really showcased Amani’s great
talent of fusing her wisdom of the dance with her intense
emotional expression, and after watching her you are filled
with moonlit dreams.
“Tango”, choreographed by Felix Haroutiounian
to traditional music.
Tango is the national dance of Argentina, and is traditionally
done with a man and a woman, solo. In this piece there
are five couples who dance together, but they still retain
the original feel of the duet. The music used is a
traditional piece, and the costuming is also, with the women
in big “fifties” style skirts, and hair pinned back in a
“chignon”. It brought the mood of the concert up a
notch from the Baladi, and is preparing us for the final
piece of the first set.
7) Lebanon: A Tribute to Elie Choueiry
& Sabah; 5, Choreographed by Amani; 6 & 7 choreographed
by Sami Khoury: This piece is a suite
of three dances, so I will separate and discuss each individually:
Sketch, “Neswan El-Furn” This piece is hysterical,
and has Amani dressed up as a village woman in a costume
that makes the diminuative Amani appear larger than life!
is rather an acting piece with less dancing and more storytelling.
and her kin are doing their daily work, and gossiping; as
the gossip gets more and more intense, Amani becomes furious,
scratches the ground with her feet like a bull, and starts
to chase the culprit around the stage! I found myself
laughing until I cried, as she portrays this scene perfectly.
El-Helwen: This is a Lebanese women’s folkdance,
and the beginning of this piece has the group of women on
stage, while Amani is running throughout them and chasing
the culprit from the last piece! It is quite funny,
and the look on the dancers’ faces is even funnier.
However, once the drama is over, the serious dancing takes
place, and it is quite delightful. The women are in
full black skirts with a ribbon trim in various colors,
combined with a fitted vest top, and a long flowing veil
headpiece. They use tambourines to dance with, and
one can see the feminine side of Lebanese folk dancing in
their fluid and circular movements.
Lebanese Dabke: This piece was the end
of the first half of the show, and the company really brings
down the house. Amani enters in a lemon yellow fancy
Dabke costume, complete with a headpiece with a veil.
She does some solo Dabke style dancing in the middle of
the group first as they form a long line behind her.
is nothing short of incredible to watch this kind of authentic
Dabke dancing. It was especially interesting, educationally,
to see the women’s solo version.
Amani joins the middle of the line for the Dabke line-dance
part of the piece. Just to see the large group move
as one is breath-taking, but to see it done in such a splendid
show was captivating. One is left with a feeling for
the “joie de vivre” that the Lebanese people have; even
in the face of suffering and war, the spirit of Lebanon
is not lost, and it shows in the pride on the dancers’ faces.
Arabic Dance: “Amani Fil-Shark”, choreographed
by Amani, music composed by Mazen Zawaeidi
piece of music is entitled “Amani Fi-Al Shark” which means
Amani in the East. In the ancient world, the “East” meant
the “Middle East’ of today’s world, and in general the “West”
was the Roman and the Greek Empires.
is the opening of the second half of the show, and one enters
a court scene from the Royal Palace of Baghdad. There
are five dancers including Amani that are lounging on a
circular, rotating and elevated stage prop; they are “smoking”
hookahs, or “narjilah”, and there is dry ice being blown
to give the effect of a dream. The colors of the costumes
are gold, orange and green; Amani is in all orange and gold,
with a gold-coin bra/belt set. After a brief interaction
with the other dancers on stage, Amani rises to perform
a solo. Her movements are a combination of ancient
Oriental dance with a modern aspect presented with
own her style.
dance distinguishes itself from her other Bellydance pieces
in that one can see the fusion of different dance moves
that must have taken place in antiquity; as dancers were
often bought and sold as slaves, their travels brought
them into contact with many different styles of dance.
Amani’s aim of this piece was to showcase the different
traditions that made Oriental dance what it is today.
In the first part of her solo there is a violin taqasim,
and Amani does some beautiful hand movements. Then the music
tempo picks up and she does her own style of Oriental dance,
adding some Andalusian movement to go with the music. The
music ends in Persian “kereshmeh.”
“Gypsy Ceremony & Dances”, choreographed by Francoise
Rahme, music composed by Goran Bregovic
Sara, or, the “Black Madonna” is the patron saint of the
Romani (Gypsy) people, and a ceremony to her is the first
part of this two-part dance set. Dancers appear on
stage in black veils that cover their entire bodies, and
their arms are stretched out perpendicular to the floor;
it makes them appear like black tents. Candles are
lit in the background. A very haunting melody is heard eerily
in the background. Once this piece comes to a close,
Amani appears on stage, and the black veils are lifted to
reveal all women. Amani runs around the stage as men
enter, and chaos ensues. She is the new girl in town,
and she is looking for a mate! The men come to dance
with her, and the women become jealous. Amani must
fight for her place within this community, and in the end
one of the men chooses her. The feel of this piece
is very busy, so busy that sometimes it was hard to see
what was happening. After watching it a few times
I understood it better, and quite enjoyed it. I was
also curious to contrast the Yugoslavian Romani movement
with the other “Gypsy” dances that I have learned:
Turkish, Spanish, Bulgarian, and Indian. The women
wore big full skirts with a “peasant” blouse in white.
Iran: “Attar Bashi” & “Bandari”
dances, choreographed by Felix Haroutiounian to traditional
style of Persian dance in this piece is what Amani calls
“Tribal”; she says that it is the true tribal style in
contrast with American Tribal.
is comprised of different regional tribes, and hence the
terminology. The costuming reflects this, as it is
simple with Gulf style head veils, and one can feel as if
one is in a village in this piece. The beginning has
a man, the “Attar”, enter with a perfumer’s box; he is trying
to entice the women to buy. They follow him around,
and then Amani appears. She does a very short solo
to the Persian “reng” style of music that accompanied the
Persian dancing in the Royal Courts of the Qajar Dynysty.
The tempo picks up, and the “Bandari” begins; this is the
Persian Gulf style of dance. It is very fast and energetic
with lots of shoulder shimmies! Amani and the group
dance together and then apart as she does her solo.
The energy level in the room hits the sky with this one!
Classical Arabic Dance: “Amani El-Hob”,
choreographed by Amani, music composed by Mohammed
refreshing to see Amani do a new version of this song, and
I have seen it performed on a Lebanese TV show in her classical
Bellydance way. Amani is telling a story in this piece;
the story of a woman who loves a man who ignores her.
She appears in a royal blue Modern Bellydance costume and
wakes up on a divan that she is lounging on. Beginning
her dance, she uses a blue silk veil and gains momentum
until she sees her beloved; he takes her breath away and
she shows her angst in her movement and facial expression,
bowing to the floor in mourning for her lost love.
The man is on stage but off to the side and she tries to
reach out to him, but it is as if she is behind a glass
wall that only she can see out of. Amani embodies
the feeling of the “Lover” in this piece in the classical
poetry sense; the themes of the Lover/Beloved and Union/Separation
are common themes in love poetry from classical times to
present day, and this piece is a perfect portrayal of that.
Brazil : “Mambo”, choreographed by
Sami Khoury, music composed by Ima Sumac/Abdo Munzer
this piece Amani shows up Mambo, Brazilian style.
There is a jungle scene in which Amani is the predator;
there are men who are her prey this time. She wears
an animal-inspired costume, and they mix in traditional
Mambo moves with Ballet. In the end of the piece,
Amani turns in the prey and the men are the predator, and
she is caught!
Egypt: Popular & Traditional
New Dances, choreographed by Sami Khoury:
This is the final suite of the show, and is in three parts:
“Batta” (Hasan Eshesh): The beginning
of the piece has a light projection of a yellow sun centered
in the back of the stage with two more suns spilling onto
the stage floor. It is an Egyptian marketplace with
a rababah playing a taqsim; dancers are entering slowly
with different things being carried on their head.
The tempo picks up and the “Batta” song begins; Amani enters
in an Iskanderian costume, and men follow her around the
market telling her “ya ottah!”, which means, “the cat!”.
Amani is playing the coquette, and saying, “La, la, la!”,
or “no, no, no!”, and it is her voice recorded on the music.
“Salamatha”: A group of women dance this piece
with croqueted Egyptian style beledi dresses, while Amani
goes to change costumes. The movements are simple
Egyptian folkdance, mostly Ghawazee, with some ballet and
theatrical dimensions added to it for stage. Amani
enters at the end to finish the piece with them, and then
stays onstage for the solo tabla.
“Solo Tabla”: This is Amani’s famous style
tabla solo. She wears a modern Bellydance costume
of black with a long fringe skirt and a tank top style bra.
The movements are bigger than Egyptian-style tabla solo
and she is quite energetic! As Amani is versed in
many styles of dancing, she really gives new meaning to
the term, “well-rounded dancer”; one can see from her style
of dance that she has as large repertoire of movements to
draw from and she puts them together in new and refreshing
brings the audience to a roaring thunder of applause by
the end of this number, but it’s not over yet…
Bellydance: “Tabbeloulha”, choreographed
by Amani, music composed by Said El-Artist
dance was a lot of fun, as it is the closing number of the
show, and every troupe member is on stage with Amani.
Her voice is also heard in the music. She does a flirtatious
dance of call and response with her audience, pointing to
her hips and her shoulders to indicate what parts should
move. When the gorgeous saxophone starts to play for
a solo on the melody, Amani takes a grand promenade down
the diagonal of the stage in a very elegant manner as her
adoring company lines a path for her on their knees.
is no wonder that her company of dancers is enchanted with
working with her, just as much as we are with watching her.
has set the new standard for Bellydance Shows, and is
setting the record straight for the history of Bellydance
in her educational approach to this ancient art-form.