An evening of Arabic Dance and Music featuring
World Renowned Belly Dance Artist DINA
Review by Amina Goodyear
posted March 16, 2011
When one mentions a super-star of Egyptian Belly dance, usually Dina’s name is also in the same sentence, but that was not always the case. At one time, the title Belly Dance Super-Star could have been given to Nagwa Fouad. She had earned it by presenting the most spectacular revues with male and female chorus dancers (and, probably, having the most musicians in her orchestra).
One evening in a Cairo hotel, I think I remember counting (or maybe I stopped counting when I reached 58) the number of musicians on stage for Nagwa’s show. With this large number of musicians, the music and show could only be spectacular! She featured male and female group numbers, preceding and encircling Nagwa who constantly left to change: costumes, wigs (long hair, short hair, braided hair), stage personality, and dance style. The group danced, she danced, the group danced, she sang, the group danced again, and she ran off to change–only to reappear in something more grandiose or outrageous than the preceding costumes.
Shortly before her final piece, Nagwa stopped singing in order to speak. She wanted to acknowledge a special person in the audience. We all looked to see who that special person was, and Nagwa introduced a young dancer named Dina. There were audible gasps in the room! Dina was, at that time, an up-and-coming dancer who was rumored to have a few personal problems. Nagwa invited Dina to come to the dance floor to do a short number. My friends thought it was wonderful of Nagwa to support Dina at that time in her life.
I remember saying to myself, “Dina? Dina who?” Then, a young, shy woman came from the audience, and (in her street clothes) she performed an extremely touching and poignant piece that will forever be imprinted in my emotional memory bank. Dina danced from the heart and my heart could feel it, and for me, Nagwa, without realizing it, had just passed the torch.
A decade later, Dina was on her way to earning the title Egyptian Belly Dance Super-Star. At first, it was based upon: "What was Dina wearing?" "How short was it? How outrageous was it? How ridiculous? Where can I get one?" Next, the question was "How many times did she change costumes?" Later, it was "How can she stay in her costumes?" "Is she wearing any … ?" and even later, it became, "How many people do I know who are copying Dina’s signature movements?"
Now, a couple of decades after my first seeing Dina, she is the Egyptian Belly Dance Super-Star! In “Amera’s Palace” DVD, this star quality is so evident, and she doesn’t have 58 musicians backing her up. In fact, she doesn’t even have one single musician backing her up! Dina is dancing to recorded music! She runs onto the stage and takes command, and she is just one person on a stage that could hold that 58 piece orchestra. She has confidence. She is comfortable. She is personable. She is Dina, and there is only one Dina!
Dina performs a number of pieces and makes a number of costume changes as well as mood changes. Her dances range from highly energetic, to flirtatious and dellae (coy, coquettish, spoiled) from fun and lively to emotional and above all, heartfelt. It is the latter that my heart and mind remembers most… In all her pieces, Dina is alive and real. Her expressions are alive and the real seems to draw from memories of a past-life or experiences that may or may not have been painful. Her ability to reach within herself and express those feelings to a large audience is nothing short of spectacular! In this DVD, Dina’s performance and emotions are tailored specifically for the size of the house, and she never, even for a moment, (in spite of technical sound problems) loses control of her audience.
Nonetheless, we need to move beyond her expressions. Her dance is Dina. She is agile, melodic, rhythmic, and her movements are so intertwined with the lyrics and the music that she exists as the music–always reaching out to us and, thereby, bridging the gap.
In this DVD, her costumes are almost conservative for Dina. At first glance, they are all quite simple, yet beautiful, but additionally, there is a subtle Dina-daring quality in style or cut with which only Dina can get away. On the DVD, she performs a total of 8 dances with costume changes. I can honestly say I liked all of her dances. Each one captured a different feeling and used different movements and dance styles. In all of her dances, she is at her best and although, at times, the follow-camera could have followed the dance better, on the whole, I would say the camera work was able to capture adequately all her moods.
Like fine wine Dina has aged well. To my eyes, she hasn’t aged at all, but, since I have been seeing her perform for over 20 years…
I can quite honestly say that I enjoyed watching her in this new DVD more than older DVDs.
Is this Dina DVD for entertainment? Yes.Is this Dina DVD to be used and analyzed by a teacher and/or a student to learn how to command an audience and transmit emotions to an audience? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Well, there it is: Already, I have awarded a 4-zil rating! (Furthermore, I haven’t even yet mentioned the entire first part of the DVD.)
Amera’s Palace, an iconic fixture in Sydney’s Bellydance scene for over 2 decades, has maintained cultural connections with Egypt by successfully hosting many international events. In 2008, five of Egypt’s top dancers and twelve musicians came to Sydney for The Farha Tour of 2008. Last year, 2010, Amera’s Palace hosted another 5-star event with Belly Dance Super-Star, Dina, in a 3-day extravaganza, consisting of a competition, workshops by Dina, and a show starring her, as well as troupes: Attar, Hathor Dance Theatre, Pyramidstique, Raks Harissa, The Eastern Stars’ Middle Eastern Band, and Singer, Khaled el Amir.
The Dina DVD was produced by Amera’s Palace, and it includes artists from the 2010 Belly Dance and Arabic Music Extravaganza held last August in Sydney. Favorite dance troupes from Sydney and Perth performed group numbers with many yards of silk veils, ribbons, and dance wings. The dances varied from balletic theater style, an Arabic dance influenced by modern dance, a take-off on Dandash‘s "Manga" impersonations, and traditional Arabic dance-formation choreography. The singer, who sang two pieces composed for Abdel Halim and Adaweya, was quite accomplished and was accompanied by a 5-piece band.
You might ask, “Would I recommend this DVD?” Yes, I would. It belongs in your Dina library. Whether you have a collection of the rather scarce videos of Dina performing in various compilation videos or not, maybe this could be the start of your own library, because, in this video, she certainly hits her stride! Also, as I mentioned in this article above, it is a very important learning tool for both teacher and dance student who face the prospect of dancing on a huge stage.
Rating: 4 zils
Ready for more?
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