ad 4 Fahtiem



Tanna Valentine
Gilded Serpent presents...
Shades of Goth Fall
Upon Belly Dance
Gothic Bellydance:
The Darker Side of Fusion

produced by WorldDance New York
DVD  Reviewed by Amulya

When I first heard about Gothic Belly dance I became curious: what is it? I tried to find pictures, did a lot of reading about the gothic culture, but could not picture how Gothic Belly dancing would look. The costumes look great, but those are only pictures. Consequently, I was happy that, finally, there was going to be a Gothic Belly dance DVD!

When I received my DVD, I did what I always do: I browsed quickly through all the performances to get an overall picture. Among the first things I noticed, was the beautiful production of this DVD, and its special effects give it a Gothic atmosphere.

Another thing I noticed was that sometimes it is hard to see what the dancers are doing because it was sometimes just too dark to view.

One thing that immediately caught my eye was the controversial music clip from Jehan, but more about that later…

One must get used to the menu because it is a bit confusing, but I appreciated the amount of information one can learn about the music, dancers and costumes.  I had to take more looks at the DVD to get an idea of what makes these dances particularly Gothic, because a lot of them seem to me to be Tribal Fusion. Some of the dancers would not be recognizable to me as Gothic if you took them out of this video and put them on a stage.

Ya Meena from Washington DC

There have been heated discussions on several Belly dance forums about this DVD. One of the things people said was that it was a pity is that the music used in this DVD is not particularly Gothic. I cannot comment on that claim because I have no idea how real Gothic music would sound. However, perhaps this has to do with music licensing. If Gothic music had been used, some people might not recognize it as Belly dance music.

Another subject in the discussions was that people were a bit annoyed with the fact that “Goth” is always associated with darkness. This DVD was filmed mostly in that way (dark stage, less lighting); some people express the opinion that this was not really exactly what Gothic Belly dance is about, and that this was in interpretation made by Neon, who is a dancer from outside the Gothic Belly dance community.

On the other hand, the resulting DVD was a good production, and perhaps more people will follow who will produce more Gothic Belly dance DVDs because of it.

It is very hard to gauge this as an outsider: To know about the gothic culture (and thus, about Gothic Belly dance) one should to be part of it.  

I particularly liked Neon’s dances as well as Ariellah, Asharah, and Martiya Possession.   The combination of body paint with Neon’s costumes works well. This DVD presents many different facets of Gothic Belly dance; some seem to have derived from tribal, some from cabaret, --and I even noticed some Ballet influences! 

I thought Blanca’s performance is more like a music clip, and I would have liked to see more dancing. Ayshe’s Kali/Isis performance is not my taste; there is very little Belly dance in it, but her other performance is much more interesting. It is not Belly dancing either, as I understand it; rather, it seemed inspired by modern dance.

Jeniviva, Tempest, and Tanna’s dancing did not appeal to me as much. In my opinion, their technique seemed poor. I expected much more of Tempest’s dance, because she has an incredibly beautiful website and her costumes are amazing.

Speaking of costumes: this DVD is inspiring especially because of its gorgeous costumes!

I heard complaints that the costumes do not look authentic Gothic, and that some looked more like they had been inspired by vintage Mata Hari or tribal fusion and cabaret costumes. (However, that is not a bad thing!) 

Of course, I have to comment on the ‘Goddessence’ video clip of Jehan; she does very little Belly dancing in it. Mostly, it is just a video clip of a lesbian S&M scene with a few Belly dance movements here and there, so this clip has nothing about Belly dance to add to the DVD. Personally, I think it should not have been on the DVD, as Belly dance is already having problems with its image and does not need connotations like this. I heard that some people bought this DVD for their teenage daughters and could not give it to them because of this. Another person was watching the video with her 10-year-old son when this suddenly came up on the screen.  Belly dance is a family entertainment, and it should remain so.


I wanted to let Neon share her idea about why the ‘Goddessence’ video clip in the DVD should be included and these were her comments:

“Jehan, whose segment in the GBD DVD to which you refer, is another source of music that I license regularly.  When producing the DVD, I solicited interpretations of Goth and "dark fusion" dance, Jehan's contribution, "Goddessence,” had an unexpected character. However, I did not feel it deserved judgment or censor. The underlying message is very valid and powerful—seeing divine will and love even in the violent acts of life. The theme of the song is, basically, totally theological: God-wrestling plus unconditional nature of love and acceptance; the imagery Jehan chose for the music video, I thought, was edgy but quite ingenious for her message. I certainly understand Jehan when she wants to share her spiritual experiences in a non-preachy, non-sterile, thought-provoking way. It is her right.”

My conclusion: this DVD is worth its cost! If you like experimental belly dance, you should definitely buy it. The amount of dances you get to see on this DVD is also well worth the price.

Still, my question goes unanswered:  Exactly what makes a Gothic Belly dancer?

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