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Gilded Serpent presents...

San Francisco Screening of
American Bellydancer
by Miles Copeland

Traveling to San Francisco to attend the screening of American Bellydancer to a largely belly dance community crowd was like jumping into a hornet’s nest of opposing views!

I was surrounded by local rivalries, and strong deep-set opinions that no one is going to change, especially not me. At the same time, many thought-provoking questions were asked and comments made over a period of almost an hour.

Suhaila joined me for the discussion, both as my antagonist and as my supporter. At certain points, I will admit that I became depressed, because some of our audience seemed to miss the point. In private conversations after the public forum, I began to feel better as I realized most people did “get it,” and that they agreed that the film will advance the cause of Belly dance generally.

However, I think I should explain yet again that the title of my film, which is NOT "American Belly Dance," is in fact: "American Bellydancer." As such, it is much more about the dancer than the dance. It addresses the questions: What is the life of a belly dancer, why belly dance, what issues, problems, and challenges does a dancer face? Why is belly dance important to women, etc.? Let’s get to know some belly dancers and see what makes them tick.

"American Bellydancer" is also about a universal issue to ALL the arts: namely art versus commerce.

In that regard, we find the Bellydance Superstars and my role as a tool to investigate their issues. It is, after all, an issue of broader interest than any single art, Belly dance included. That is why director, Jonathan Brandeis, chose to use the Bellydance Superstars and me as he did. Since the Bellydance Superstars are the current most internationally commercial successful and high profile troupe ever, the question of art versus commerce is more pronounced than with any other outfit, making us the obvious choice--if not the only choice--to study this issue. In other words, the film is not about me, but what I represent to the Belly dance community. In the same way, it is not about Suhaila, but what she represents.

The other point worth mentioning is that any film, even a documentary--especially one 90 minutes long--must hold an audience’s attention. Hopefully, this film will appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Consequently, Jonathan Brandeis as a film director, was always looking for the film's possible story. Conflicts, questions, problems, and issues are set up early to be resolved later, leading the viewer to want to find out what is going to happen. Again, the Bellydance Superstars and I became a useful filmic tool to accomplish that need.

The film is actually a far more comprehensive study of American Belly dance than one session of viewing might indicate. All sorts of issues are brought up; some issues are brief while others are in more detail.

I am pleased to stand by the positive message portrayed in "American Bellydancer" and its power to excite more interest in this dance.

Andre gestures at lynette

Michel Harris poses with Juan

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
2-4-05 Comments On American Bellydancer Film Review by Gregory Burke
A documentary film or video is made up of "real" images constructed in such a way to reflect the point of view of its maker. So a documentary film is a fiction, especially when financed by its key subject.

12-9-03 Miles Copeland Responds to Questions from GS Readers
If we are to dominate the world let’s try to understand and appreciate the good in other cultures as we are trying to mitigate the bad.

1-19-05 BDSS Auditions January 14-15, 2005, North Hollywood, CA
-Inside the Bellydance Superstars Final Auditions by Michelle Joyce
-"What have I got to lose?" by Zaheea
-Photos by Lynette

1-7-05 Unchained! by Monique Monet
Who the hell is Miles Copeland? And, what is he doing in our ancient and sacred world of Middle Eastern dance?

12-11-04 Miles Copeland responds to Horacio

4-6-05 The Rhythm and Reason Series Article 1- Cymbals, Beyond Basics  by Mary Ellen Donald
Each rhythm has a distinct arrangement of accents.  If you are sure of where these accents come, you can bring a unique flavor to each section of your routine.

4-3-05 The London Belly Beat! by Alexandria
They have nothing against tribal or fusion styles and seem to enjoy all belly dance.

3-31-05 Rakkasah West Festival 2005 Photos- Friday Page 1 photos by GS Staff and Friends
More to come!

3-26-05 “My Aim in Organizing a World-inclusive Oriental Dance Festival” by Amani
Dancer Amani of Lebanon Comments, "Oriental dancing has become a widespread art; it is now found all over the world, and among all levels of society in all the five continents! "


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