Gilded Serpent presents...

Two Musical Sundaes with Dancers on Top

“Babelesque Live in Tokyo 2009”, Bellydance Superstars Series
“Dancers for Dancers, Volume 5”, produced by Cheeky Girls

2 DVDs

DVD Reviews by Monet Rath
posted January 19, 2012

Two DVD’s. Two live shows. Two very different productions! It is hard to stand them side by side. On one hand, Bellydance Superstars "Babelesque Live in Tokyo 2009”. On the other, “By Dancers for Dancers”, Volume 5, live in Berkeley, California. Miles Copeland versus Michelle Joyce? Me thinks I had better get to the reviews and let you be the judge!

BDSS TokyoBellydance Superstars "Babelesque" Live in Tokyo 2009:

Bellydance Superstars always put on a good live show. I have seen several, and this one is no different. I imagine if you were in Toyko for the show, you felt the same energy and enjoyed the performances. In fact, at one point, there is a camera pan-out to the audience, and they are rocking to the performance. The DVD features a 92-minute, large stage production of Bellydancing at the famous U-Port Hall in Tokyo. There are 17 performances by talented dancers, some of whom are well-known, including Cabaret, Tribal, Folkloric, Fusion, Polynesian and two drum solos. If you are new to Bellydance, then watching this DVD would expose you to several styles and techniques. However, keep in mind that the show is highly choreographed for the most part and is slightly atypical of most local Bellydance shows.

We aspire to produce quality of this sort when we put on a show; it should be professional and classy!

The DVD opens with a title page and music blaring. You can play the whole show or scene select as well as check out other BDSS video options. Personally, I own a few of the BDSS DVDs, and I have to say that this show is not my favorite. The quality is not great (in terms of screen appearance). I tried to adjust the screen on my new laptop, and therefore, I think it is the fault of the DVD. It has almost a “bootleg” quality to it. Also, I found a few spots where the stage is not lit well enough for the DVD videography.

Miles opens the show with his booming voice playing over a video screen of pyramids and dancer images. I found his voice almost Star Trek-ish, as he spun the tale of ancient Babylon and the dance form you are about to see: blah, blah, blah… It was a bit much for me! If you have ever been to a BDSS show or own one of the other show DVDs, then you would see similarities in the performances. Perhaps that is why I wasn’t overly wowed.

Petite Jamilla and the Tribal dancers steal the show for me, and I am a fan of Jillina and Sonia. However, I am now feeling that some of the of the Superstar performers are beginning to lack the pizazz to which I have become accustomed or have seen in previous Superstar productions. Some of the other high points for me were: “Arabesque”, featuring Bellydance en pointe (which is quite difficult) and the "Do You Have any Faith?" piece with the whirling Dervish-style Bellydancers.

Overall, I will admit that I think there are better BDSS performance DVDs available.

Rating:  2.5 zils 
2.5 zil rating


“Dancers for Dancers Volume 5”, produced by Cheeky Girls:

Let me first admit that I like the philosophy of Cheeky Girls Productions for this recording. All 12 of the dancers performing in the show were nominated by fellow artists! This is explained on the DVD cover–as is the fact that they include each dancer’s feedback during the editing of their piece and request their approval on the edit. I think that is pretty awesome!

The theater appears to be a small black box type theater with a backdrop, which I could not tell if it was a screen with an image or a pseudo-rock facade. It is a nice touch that the lighting changes to compliment the dancers’ costumes.

The stage is well lighted, and there are many close-ups of the dancers and their costumes. The camera is steady, and its shots are clean.

The 120-minute DVD starts on insertion, but you have the option to play all or scene select. It is produced and edited by Michelle Joyce. The dancers are all Cabaret or Egyptian style, and I would say honestly that 80% were exceedingly enjoyable–a rarity. Stage prop usage is minimal overall in the performances. Many use a veil, but Oreet was the only performer who used wings or a large prop. Some of the more well-known dancers featured are Bahia, Tanya, Lotus Niraja, Oreet, and Princess Farhana; however, there are many other quality performers included.

On a completely unrelated note: I loved the color and crystal accents on Ahava‘s costume. Absolutely beautiful!

My criticisms are fairly basic, but I hope they do not seem petty:

  1. There appears to be beads scattered all over the stage. I know; I know! Nevertheless, I have to say that the appearance of the hazard on the stage kept distracting me. I found myself checking to see who was wearing shoes for fear they might have cut their feet!
  2. In the beginning of the show, and then at the beginning of each dancer’s performance–and only when the camera was zoomed out–you see the audience moving around. Overall, this is minimal distraction, but when comparing productions, I note that it is definitely not seen in BDSS camera footage.
  3. Finally, during Tanya’s performance, there was one very brief moment where I could see the backstage because the curtain was not completely closed.

Overall, this DVD shows an enjoyable performance, and it is worth the purchase if you want to see quality Cabaret/Egyptian-style dancing.

Rating:  3 zils
3 zil rating


Both DVDs include music credits at different spots, which is a feature that I, as a dancer, appreciate. To take it a step further, on the Cheeky DVD, the dancer information and music credits appear on the inside of the DVD cover, which I think is a great touch. Both BDSS and Cheeky have sales periodically; so if money is tight, I would suggest waiting for a sale on both DVDs.


use the comment box

Have a comment? Use or comment section at the bottom of this page or Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?

  1. Ruby

    Jan 19, 2012 - 08:01:57

    They weren’t beads on the floor it was Tanya and her glitter shower!!! No danger, just extra sparkle 🙂

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.