purple is Shabanu (Germany) , in white
is Aziza (Denmark), in top right corner,
black/white costume is Sirke (Finland)
Oriental Dancers of Europe
A more appropriate title for this DVD would be "Dancers of
Northwestern Europe", since the only countries represented
here are Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. At first,
even the distribution of nationalities within this group may seem
disproportionate, with most dancers coming from Germany and the
Netherlands and only two from Scandinavia, but
this is actually a pretty accurate representation of the popularity
of Oriental Dance in this part of the world. Even
the fact that only one of the 12 dancers is male is probably
not far off from the present male-to-female ratio.
& Fariha (Germany): Dance of the Harem
A charming start to the DVD. Shabanu and Fariha
portray two ladies of the Harem amusing themselves by dancing
with and for each other. A refreshing change from (and certainly
more historically accurate than) the tired old cliche of scantily
clad women gyrating in front of the Sultan. They start out by
miming daily activities: brushing each other's hair, applying
cosmetics, drinking tea, and gossiping about (presumably) the
Sultan and the other ladies of the Seraglio. The first false start
at dancing is interrupted by a eunuch who saunters by to check
up on things as the ladies modestly avert their faces. After he
leaves the dancing begins again in earnest, using a mixture of
Oriental and Turkish folkloric dance steps. The costumes are beautiful,
avoiding the old "I Dream of Jeannie" horrors we are
usually subjected to. A lovely concept, nicely executed.
Ahlem (Netherlands): Enchanted Garden
Dressed in a flattering Egyptian-style bedlah in soft peaches
and gold with a multi-layered skirt in the palest peach, pink
and cream (heads up, ladies, I have it from a reliable source
that she actually made this herself) Ahlem does
a dance every bit as soft and delicate as her costume. There is
nothing loud or flashy about this performance, simply a beautiful,
graceful dance with the occasional unexpected nifty hip combination
that you might actually miss if you blink. This is followed by
a drum solo done with what can only be described as "lady-like
restraint". I hope that the younger generation of dancers,
raised on a diet of furious hip-shaking to pop music by Hakim,
will take the time to appreciate this piece. They might just learn
a thing or two.
Mariska (Netherlands): Taj Mahal
One of the prerequisites of doing fusion is that the dancer has
a good working knowledge of both dance styles being "fused".
Mariska definitely fulfils the requirements.
She has had years of training in Southern Indian Temple dance
and it certainly shows. Having just taken my own first baby steps
in Bharata Natyam, I'm admittedly still easy to impress, but I
think even those with extensive knowledge of this dance form won't
be overly disappointed. This is not your usual "let's throw
on a sari, add a few random Bollywood gestures and call it Indian
fusion" type of embarrassment we seem to be afflicted with
all too often these days. Mariska shows us graceful hand gestures,
nimble footwork, and nifty little head movements coupled with
impressively muscular hip and stomach action and some particularly
awesome shimmies. This is one dancer I certainly would want to
take lessons from.
Sina (Germany): Shamadan
I have to confess, I'm not exactly a fan of the shamadan. I'm
aware it has a valid place in the Egyptian (dance) culture, but
there always seems to be an adolescent part of me that tends to
break into giggles at the sight of a woman dancing with a chandelier
on her head (yes, I know, it's a candelabra) Nonetheless, I've
made an effort to view this performance with some objectivity
and I have to concur, Sina is a skilful dancer.
Her moves are strong and graceful, with none of that slight hesitance
you always seem to spot when someone dances with that contraption
on her/his head. I could have done without the cutesy kicking
moves in her floorwork and the trite chin-in-hand-while-leaning-over-from-a-wide-split
posturing. Just because Nadia Hamdi could get
away with it doesn't necessarily mean everyone can, but I guess
that's just my personal prejudices showing. People who like Shamadan
are sure to enjoy this performance.
Ad Nug (Germany): Belaha Flowers
First of all, I'd like to say that I absolutely love this woman,
both as a dancer and as a person. Seeing her dance for the first
time was an almost magical experience for me that I would have
loved to have shared with everyone. Unfortunately, this particular
performance is not going to have quite the same effect. Not that
she dances badly - I can hardly imagine Ad Nug
dancing badly, but I wish that she would have done something other
than this Arabic karaoke type thing she does here. This is very
Egyptian, of course, and it demonstrates that her extensive knowledge
of the culture includes a mastery of the Arabic language. However,
I'm afraid it will leave most people feeling "Huh?!".
It definitely detracted from where I felt the focus should have
been - her amazing baladi style of dancing. All in all, a missed
opportunity. Or is it just that my expectations of her are always
cover of DVD
Ed- Could someone
help match names to faces please?
1st row- Fariha under "special
features, " then 1st dancer in red is Sina
, #2 Melaya turquise costume: Ad Nug,
#3 Ahlem. 2nd row: The man with
black costume: Farouq, white costume:
Sena , green costume: Soraya,
white crown and blue costume: Mariska,
blue costume: Jasmin (producer of video)
(Netherlands): Reda's Flowers
This is the woman who taught me my first hip drops and figure
eights; I have spent years following her bouncing butt in front
of a mirror. Although my style of dancing has turned out completely
different from hers, every move she makes is as familiar to me
as my own. And, as is the case with everything that has become
so familiar, I realized that it has been a while since I've taken
the time to really watch her dancing. This DVD was a good opportunity
to see her from a new perspective, and you know what? Sena
certainly can dance! She has a strong preference for the Classic
Egyptian style and here it is clear why they refer to it as Raks
el Hawanim, Dance of the Ladies. This is definitely a Lady dancing.
Mature, refined, confident and accomplished -pure class. It's
nice to find out that after all this time your teacher can still
impress the beep out of you.
Farouq (Netherlands): Gharret Ya Zaman
This is not a male dancer performing a "women's dance",
nor is this a dancer performing a "male version" of
a "women's dance". This is simply a dancer dancing a
dance he has mastered to the very tips of his fingers. Farouq
does not deal with ands, ifs, or maybes in his dance. Every drop
of the hip, shake of the tush, or wiggle of the little finger
is done precisely as it was intended, where it was intended, and
when it was intended, all executed with the complete ease of confidence
that enables him to dance effortlessly around the stage of a nearly
empty theatre at 10:30 in the morning, flashing impish grins at
an audience that consists of a grand total of 6 (including the
film crew) as if he were being cheered on by an ecstatic multitude.
A master craftsman at his trade.
Jasmin Yildiz (Germany): RaksJihan
I missed out on a chance to see Ms.Yidiz dancing live last summer,
an error on my part that I will be sure to rectify soon. About
three and a half seconds into her dance I had already made up
my mind - I definitely like her. Jasmin is charismatic,
with a fun, flirty style backed by more than adequate technique.
At the end of her much-too-short performance (or did it just seem
that way?) I made a mental note that I really have to go see more
of this woman's dancing.
Soraya Sultan (Netherlands): Grand Solo Oriental
Soraya is a born entertainer, dancing with an
infectious enthusiasm that always gets the audience going. Unfortunately
her piece has the worst lighting of the whole DVD, making it at
times difficult to even distinguish her pretty features. Her skin
color is a rich chocolate brown but it doesn't seem to have occurred
to anyone that she might need a different type of lighting than
a blonde like AzizA or a redhead like Ahlem. Every time she dances
towards the edge of the screen with its weird, dark fade-outs,
she virtually disappears, leaving her disembodied lime green costume
to dance on by itself. Not being able to see her facial expressions
definitely prevented me from fully enjoying her performance.
AzizA (Denmark): Joumana
AzizA is a tall willowy blonde, dressed in a
gorgeous slinky champagne-colored costume. I had expected her
movements to match her appearance, sinuous and elegant, and it
was almost a shock to see her suddenly burst into a wild flurry
of activity, furiously waving her veils around with manic glee.
It was almost a relief when she moved on to the slower part of
her dance, at least, what should have been the slower part of
her dance. For although the music turned slow and mysterious,
our Scandinavian beauty still plowed through at full speed, all
the while with the same enormous happy grin plastered on her face.
At this point I was starting to feel rather harassed, with weird
visions of Jack Nicholson in The Shining
rising unbidden in my head. To be fair to AzizA, if I had first
seen her in a different venue, perhaps with a live audience to
music more appropriate to her style, I would have been impressed
by her joyous energy. Her sunny smile could certainly chase away
those notorious Danish winter blues. But I'm afraid I have to
say that when, with the music turned off, it's hard to tell the
difference between your drum solo and your taxim, then it's definitely
time to take your energy level down a notch or two.
Sirke SeppŠnen (Finland): Black and White
This is the most theatrical performance of the DVD and the only
one filmed in front of a live audience in what appears to be a
different venue altogether. Sepke starts out
with a dramatic piece with a clear Latin influence which reminded
me strongly of Jillina
in her younger pre-Bellydance Superstar days -an effect
heightened by Miss SeppŠnen's long auburn curls. This is followed
by a drum solo which consists mainly of a series of dramatic Flamenco
poses to live drumming. Not strictly Oriental, but entertaining
is not your slick Hollywood production. There are some lighting
issues, although, with the exception of Soraya's performance,
nothing I would consider particularly serious. On the plus side,
the film crew clearly don't suffer from MTV syndrome. Annoying
close-ups and abrupt camera changes are avoided or kept to a
minimum, leaving the focus on where it should be: on the dancing
With one or
two exceptions, the dancers are not sexy young things. At least
half are clearly past the age and/or poundage limit that Miles
Copeland sets for his "Superstars" -which is only to
his own loss. On this disk is a wealth of talent and experience
that could only contribute to our communal understanding of our
video is available on the producer's website- http://www.shabanu.de/home.html
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Rhythms of Oriental Dance, Starring
Nesma and Khamis Henkesh, DVD Review by Leyla Lanty
and Khamis's discussion of the complexity of Arabic music and
dance is both appealing and easy to grasp.
Fresh off the Plane from Cairo, A Workshop
Review of Astryd Farah deMichele by
how does Astryd select the signature moves she wants to teach?
What she looks for first and foremost is being entertained.
Ballet Afsaneh and Carmen
Carnes Dance Ensemble Reviewed by: Rebecca Firestone
Circle Little Theater Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA February
16, 2007 And
since when was Rumi associated with Mother Earth?
My Experience in a Suhaila Salimpour
Weekend Workshop by Erin
a good kind of tired, one that makes you want to sleep, dream
and then wake up and do it all over again. That’s the way
I felt after a weekend in Austin, Texas, with Suhaila Salimpour,
one of northern California’s most renowned dancers.