Gilded Serpent presents...
Glimpses Into the Past:
On DVD at Last!
by Terry Del Giorno

The first of its kind film, “Gameel Gamal,” has been re-released as “Classic Stars of Belly Dance” in a DVD format.

I had originally set out to only purchase the re-release of “Gameel Gamal” on DVD, but after talking with Amina I enthusiastically ordered the “Nadia in America” as well as “The Aswan Dancers 20th Anniversary” to round out my collection

I was excited to hear that “Gameel Gamal” had been re-released as “Classic Stars of Belly Dance” on DVD format.  Featured in the DVD is one of my first teachers, Deann Adams, and I was anticipating the revisiting of that footage after the passage of 25 years and her unfortunate death in 2000.

Of course I loved seeing Deann in all of her youthful and healthful glory and was open-mouthed at Amina’s floor work dance. I was at the first viewing of this many moons ago as I hadn’t any idea of the potential of my own sensuality in this dance (never mind anyone else’s) but this time she received my standing ovation!

 Some current dancers may find that the sentiment of the 70’s feels alien and therefore unable to relate to it.

However, I believe many dancers will be thrilled to see faces attached to the names of some of our dance legends like Bert Balladine in Gameel Gamal.

  Additionally, Amina was offering the 1995 show on DVD of “Nadia in America” that I had enjoyed live--so that it now offered me fond memories.

While I was tickled at Nadia Hamdi’s old school playfulness, charm and sweet disposition, whose sweet smile is reminiscent to me of Sohair Zaki’s, and the professional quality production that the Aswan Dancers presented; it is Hizz-Ya-Wizz that continues to hold my attention.

It should be noted that the presentation covers not only 20 years ago; the last footage shot in 1995 at The Pasha, which at that time practically was a San Francisco institution. Additionally I must admit that I had been lucky to have “grown up” in the San Francisco Bay Area Belly dance scene and had the privilege of attending a lot of these performances, in person.

 I was spellbound in a cross of emotions ranging from a brief melancholy (how quickly time has passed, and whatever happened to___?) to a fascinated awe at Amina’s accomplishments.

Footage of the 1976 Isis show at San Francisco State University was of special interest to me.  I recall hearing about this show many times in the early eighties. Even by today’s somewhat jaded standards this show was quite a production!  It became legendary, for future dancers to emulate and try to reproduce the magic that was brewed in that theatre! And despite seeing the Sahara City presentation many times, I still never tire of it.  Gregangelo has become nearly synonymous with Dervish dancing to me!  It is a delight to see the past in the dance collections against a backdrop of more current times. 

While some of the footage in the DVD is of somewhat inferior quality, in no way does it detract from my enjoyment of the contents. For me the inferior quality here and there enhances the effect, it reminds me that I am watching dance history, just as it was recorded by technology of that period.

It has to be rewarding for Amina and the Aswans to have had a small piece of their collective history archived.  I think it may have more significance and importance for the snapshot it offers of a portion of the S.F. Bay Area Dance scene and it’s contributions to the legacy that has become Belly Dance in America.

Amina must be applauded for her efforts in preserving her dances for posterity. All three of these videos are must-owns for dance aficionados, and are invaluable tools for current and future dancers for study, reflection, and enjoyment. 

All three videos are available here

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