well, since bellydance is a middle eastern dance, there has been a lot of bashing from the arab side against american bellydancers, but i think they're just being ridiculous. so i as an arab, will give my review on this dvd.
i liked the overall setting, it was nice with all the persian carpets and arab decor but at some point, it seemed too much like a museum, but it was better than bellydance divas dvd setting. it looked like a talk show. hehe. i thought the lighting was very well done. it gave me the feeling of intimacy and romance, it was perfect, and the smoke didn't affect me too much, it seemed pretty moderate. sound and angles... thats another story i will get to after i review the dancers...
AMAR GAMAL: the girl looks like a supermodel and the way she dances really shows you how dedicated she is to her craft. she was great in every way! it was the first time for me to watch a bellydance on techno (oojami song). and i liked it quite a lot, it was really innovative. and when she performed to talakik, i was happy to see that she looked like she was having a good time and she showed a lot of comfort with herself while dancing. good job amar!
ANSUYA: a next beauty! but aside from her looks, she is also a terrific dancer as well! i think she is by far the most agile and swift dancers out of this dvd! her performances are energetic and very uplifitng. they were excellent, and her costumes are interesting as well.
RACHEL BRICE: like most arabs, i wasnt a big fan of the "tribal" movement. but rachel brice shut me up really good! though i thought her costume was freaky, i was soooooo incredibly mesmerized by her fluency of the music. and the control she has over her abdominals is absolutely astonishing! i thought both of her performances were superb, and the simon shaheen song she danced to could have brought anyone to tears.
JILLINA: who doesnt love jillina? just because she is on this dvd, you know you have to get it! her drum solo was sooo entertaining to watch, i can watch it over and over. and her interactions with issam and elian are very professional of her i must add. her dancing is very well done. but... what is up with her costumes?? a pink snake and animal print? wtf? does dina design her costumes? hehe. but anyhow, jillina was great nonetheless.
SONIA: superstar? what? who the hell let her in? i am soooo sorry to say. but she looks like she only learned to bellydance a month prior to the filming of this dvd. she has the basic idea of the dance, but i felt no energy from her. her performance lead me to believe her experience was very young and now beginning. they should have had veena and neena instead of her. i mean... Nawal Al Zoughbi? Nawal al Zoughbi?! who bellydances to her music? i grew up listening to nawal, and i love her music, but nobody i know ever got the urge to bellydance to her songs! especially a song like elli tmanetoh, which is supposed to be an upbeat pop song.
SUHAILA SALIMPOUR: i love suhaila a lot. ive seen her perform before and i am always captivated by her style. but this dvd honestly didn't show suhaila at her best. the abdel halim song she danced to was an okay performance, i felt her energy pretty well and it wasn't so bad. the violin taqaseem could have been better if it wasn't for the bad sound production and camera work. grrrr. but like i said.... i'll get to that later. but to get suhaila in her best action, go to her website and buy some of her solo dvds. you will think again after watching them.
TAMALYN DALLAL: i enjoy her a lot. though she wasn't anything special on my list, she was not in bad eye. she was quite good. she shows that with age and experience you become better at your craft. good dancer!
RANIA: rania, i love her but there is this flaw about her that i cant quite put my finger on. as a greek girl i can tell she understands the whole mediterannean/middle eastern vibe. but though she has everything needed: good body, good music etc. she kind of lacks a type of grace. i think she should learn the kind of grace im talking about from ansuya and rachel brice. like, rania has all the moves and she knows what shes doing, but she seems to technical and it doesnt look to me like she always feels the music right. but she is still worth looking at.
SOUND & ANGLES: this pissed me off. this is why i took off one star. firstly, i have no need to hear the beads on the dancers costumes hitting each other and making jingly sounds, it makes everything sound drowned out. why couldn't they dub the music? it would make the viewing experience sound so much better. it sounded too much like a stupid stereo was playing in the back (which it probably was) and i could understand not dubbing the performances with the zills like ansuya and tamalyn, but jeesh. and i think suhaila's violin taqaseem was screwed up because of the sound. fathi's violin was honestly not loud enough for me to enjoy the performance, they could have at least given him a microphone for his violin. and the camera angles were screwed up as many reviewers will agree. patrick stewart did the cameras, and i know his name is big in cinematography. but he obviously doesnt have a clue on taping bellydance. i know that cinematography is an art. but i have noo honest need to see close ups of rachel brice's face every four seconds, i have no need to see fathi and his violin while only one quarter of suhaila is shown, i have no need to get an ant's eye view of ansuya dancing, i have no need to feel like a child hiding behind some room object trying to see jillina doing a drum solo. when filming a bellydancer, the camera should capture her body for the most part because thats where the magic takes place. grrrrrrr.
anyhow, all in all, this dvd is worth it! i do recommend it to anyone who enjoys bellydance performances!