Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Ayshe, Ariellah, Asharah, Blanca, Jehan
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Exercise & Fitness
Stark...intense. The phenomenon of Gothic Bellydance or Raks Gothique is a multitude of poetic visions born out of the Goth, or Gothic, subculture, music, imagery and fashion, and expressed in the language of Bellydance. ... more »
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Cowboy Buddha | Essex UK | 04/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gothic and Bellydance are perhaps not the most obvious combination in the world but this DVD demonstrates that it can be a very intriguing and entertaining mixture. Although it is hardly purely gothic and the choreography has lots of influences way beyond traditional bellydance. The costumes and makeup were certainly stunning. Not all the music was to my taste (but I'm merely showing my age here) but it did suit the atmosphere and the performances.
The presentation of the DVD itself cetainly will provoke mixed reactions. From the main menu, I made the mistake of going straight into "Play" which produced the 85 minute series of dances with absolutely no information about who was dancing or what the dance was supposed to be about. For that, you need to go into "Visions" where you will find all you need to know about the performers. But, considering all the artsy overlays used during the dances, a quick caption before each one wouldn't have hurt.
At first, I thought the artsy approach to the visual style might detract from the actual dancing but the camerawork generally served the choreography rather than the other way around, with a minimum of abrupt cuts and the dancer almost always being framed in full figure. Even so, some of the imagery seemed excessive although it was probably included to reinforce the gothic theme. But flashing song lyrics on the screen was definitely unnecessary.
As for the performances themselves, as can be expected with such a mixed program, there were highs and lows. My favorite dancers were Ariellah, Ayshe, Tanna and Tempest. They seemed to capure the intended mood perfectly. But Jehan's performance seemed more like a Madonna video than bellydance and Neon kept reminding me of Sandahl Bergman in Conan the Barbarian (that's not necessarily a bad thing). Compared to the other dancers, the duets by Raven & Ya Meena were rather uninspiring and repetitive.
Overall, I found the performances quite intriguing while my wife seemed to love nearly every minute. It would be interesting to see these dancers in front of an audience where that interaction might produce a bit more sparkle and spontaneity. I know the emphasis on these performances is supposed to be gothic, but it would have been nice if the dancers could occasionally crack a smile just to indicate that they were really enjoying what they were doing."
Elyse Reardon | Austin, Texas | 04/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay granted, I am a devote goth of nearly 20 years, so it's hard to imagine my not loving at least part of this dvd. It was so great to hear these musical selections paired with such intense costuming and choreography. With the exception of the two more music video-based selections, I whole-heartedly disagree with the reviewer who said this was over-the-top and cheesy. The majority of these pieces were wonderfully mysterious and dramatic in their presentation.
The formatting is awkward, in that you have to access the "Visions" menu in order to find out the name of the performer (and no track listing anywhere!), but I am very pleased that the camera work was seamless and natural. (Bad dance camerawork is a *big* pet peeve!) I can't disagree with the reviewer who said the overlays were a bit much, but I didn't find them too tiresome.
A few of the dancers struck me as exceptional, and several others just had exquisite artistry working with costumes and imagery. I admit, I had to pass over two of the tracks, but the remainder definitely made up for their failing. So most of the dancers aren't on par with the Superstars (Ariellah & Neon certainly were, though!)- I'm just so glad something like this was made."
R. Hannah | WLA, CA | 04/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm an old school goth, plus I bellydance, so it's unlikely that I'd hate any DVD that combined the two! If you buy this and put it on and expect something traditional then you are going to be disappointed. Don't buy it with that expectation. You're going to get a fusion of styles, non-traditional dance music in some cases, and the overall styling of the disc is totally gothic. Which one would naturally expect in a DVD showcasing raks gothique. I think one must approach the disc from that place in order to get it.
I enjoyed most of the performances. Only two made me say "ho hum, next!" or "oh dear god no." and hit the skip key. There were some pieces that were completely enthralling and I found it fascinating to see how the dancers meshed traditional bellydance moves with gothic music and styling. As with most dance DVDs that feature several dancers, there were highs and lows. Several of the dancers are obviously very experienced and have amazing technique and control while a few seem like they are perhaps newer dancers. Even so, overall, the quality of dance throughout was good. I walked away feeling inspired and challenged as a dancer after watching several of the pieces. Standouts for me were Neon, Ariellah and Asharah. I really enjoyed Tempest's outstanding veilwork. Lovely. I could have done without some of the overlays during dance pieces but I liked the words which flashed up on screen and I felt that the camerawork was well done.
Tempest and other gothic bellydancers have created something unique in the dance world and I'm pleased to see the vision realized with an actual DVD. I think this is a nice addition to my dance video collection and I've watched it several times since getting it in the mail. Brava!"
Mala Bhargava | India | 05/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It took ages for my copy of Gothic Bellydance to reach me, and by the time it did, I was quite consumed with curiosity because it was so thoroughly discussed everywhere. I ripped it open and slid it into my player. And...
I'm afraid I quite love it!
The Gothic community and the bellydance community both seem to have a lot to say about it because it doesn't seem to fit in purely enough into either of their realms. But I'm not sure it's meant for them in the first place. As a bellydance-novice and an unlikely-Goth, I find it quite a visual treat. The DVD has a whole compilation of rich performances--though all of them aren't born equal, even to the untrained eye. I quickly developed my favourites and unfavorites. All the same there's a lot to look at and a considerable amount of content for relatively little money. There's an incredible snaky sort of dance and another amazing dagger dance. If there are a few performances that don't quite cut it, the rest are skilful and powerful enough to make up for it. I watch the DVD often (mostly spellbound) and find there's a lot of things I'd love to try out and bring into my own dancing. I even think that dancers could learn something from it, if only to let go a little and experiment and explore.
Not for everyone? Now there's an angle that's been discussed thoroughly. Actually, not many things are for everyone. If you're a Goth (whatever that really is), you'll likely think this isn't quite Gothic. If you're a long-time bellydance performer, you'll wonder where all the "real" bellydance went. But if, like me, you're just exploring dance, it's both fantastic and fantastical.
Also discussed to death is the inclusion of a music video like performance with more domination scenes in it than dancing. There, I don't blame anyone for wondering. Without making any judgements on this domination business and whether it qualifies as something dance-worthy, I can certainly say it doesn't seem to fit here. It's what my mother would call "a bit much", if I were to show it to her, which I will not make the mistake of doing. In fact, I agree with other dancers when they say it had better not be handed over to teens.
These performances are sort of theatrical and use a lot of visual effects--not the usual stage variety. They're not your average pretty-pretty either. It's weird, but wonderful--and I don't regret buying it.