"The Golden Apple" DVD features original belly dance choreographies and improvisations by three dedicated artists and stars of the New York City belly dance scene - Jenna, Blanca, and Neon - and a special performance by Je... more »han, a renowned NYC choreographer and master teacher whose creative vision contributed significantly to shaping the three performers' individual dance styles. The music and dance styles presented in this program range from traditional to contemporary. All four dance artists in this recording share a vision of bellydance as a highly emotive art. Entertaining and glamorous, their dance presentations retain a strong focus on the message of each piece. In the exotic language of bellydance they talk about the emotional journey and the spiritual search of a modern-day woman. The DVD features a number of songs from Jehan's "21st Century Priestess," an Arabesque fusion 2-CD album (StreetNoiz Records) and NYC "Taksim" trio playing traditional bellydance songs and jazz fusion. DVD bonus features:
* Performance by Jehan from Jehan's Off-Boradway extravaganza "Goddessdance" - "21st Century Priestess"
* "Jammed Tight" - Near-Eastern jazz fusion - original composition by Souren Baronian, performed by "Taksim" trio
* Optional subtitles display discography for Jehan and "Taksim" and English-language lyrics of Jehan's songs
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 05/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The dancers on this DVD are top notch examples of the many styles within the art of belly dancing, from the more traditional, graceful performances of Jenna, to the modern sophistication of the dazzling Neon, this is a collection that will delight all fans of this genre. It's a DVD that I appreciate more with each viewing, and it is also wonderful to listen to. The songs are an exotic mix by Jehan, who writes a world music fusion with lyrics that are full of erotic mysticism, and celebrate the goddess in every woman, and by the Taksim Trio (Souren Baronian, Haig Manpukian, Mal Stein), a group that does marvelous interpretations of near-eastern melodies. The costumes sparkle with color and are beautifully designed, and they flatter and flow with the dancer's movements, and though the performances are not brightly lit, the details of the garments are lovely.
Jenna, whose choice of music tends to be more traditional, does three numbers, one of them a drum solo that is very effective, and it is followed by sword dance duet with Blanca that is incredible. I cannot imagine how such a feat is done, but it is a marvel to watch. Jenna has consummate grace, with arms that move with such a natural flow they are like a flower unfolding. Blanca is exquisite. There is a youthful charm about her personality, and a nubile sensuality that is seductive with a touch of innocence. Her two solo numbers are passionate and expressive, and she is part of the sword dance duo mentioned above.
Neon is superb. Her sculpted figure is astonishing, and her electric movements are so expertly done that she makes it all look easy. Neon does 3 numbers, and the final one, in a fantastic red costume, is riveting, and brings the art of belly dancing to a new high. Jehan gives one performance, and it's a gem. Full figured and gorgeous, she is a 21st century goddess, with charisma and total assurance of her womanly charms. Jehan is of course, the composer of many of the songs on this DVD, making her a multi talented artist. The final performance is by the Taksim Trio, playing their terrific "Jammed Tight". Total running time for this fabulous DVD, enjoyable on many levels, is 55 minutes. As a former dancer, I'm enthralled by the technique, the excellence, and the sheer beauty of these performers, and it's a DVD that will entertain and fascinate for years to come. "
Fantastic dancing, Excellent DVD
glo-star | 04/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last year, unable to come up with a good gift, I gave a belly dance DVD. The response I got was so positive that I gave another one - and now they're about all I give to anyone. I'm giving instruction or exercise DVDs to dancers, and performance videos for my non-dancer family and friends my way to promote belly dance, heh-heh! "The Golden Apple" is a performance DVD that is my top choice, and here is why. It blends modern and traditional belly dance and music. The dancing is stunning and the design even the box is beautiful to hold. The Golden Apple flows like a movie. There's tons of eye candy for people who don't care about choreography and transitions. And the song lyrics are in English...with subtitles just in case you can't hear the words! (There is only one song in Arabic). I love Egyptian pop but my family can't relate to that, so this really works for them. The production is top notch and real art, and that's how I want my circle to see my beloved belly dance world, as a respected sophisticated artform. Jenna, Neon and Blanca are amazing, I love all performances on thie DVD! The whole experience is very glamourous and unlike so many belly dance shows the dance numbers on this DVD have the sophistication of real theater. Neon and Blanca are 'modern' while Jenna is more 'classical' and Middle Eastern in her dance. Strongly recommended."
Well worth the $20
Shantell Powell | Kitchener, ON, Canada | 03/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was happy to receive my review copy of The Golden Apple: Bellydance Stars of New York the other day. I finally got to watch it last night. This is strictly a performance DVD. You won't find any instruction or voice-overs.
The DVD includes almost an hour of performances by NYC performers Neon, Jehan, Jenna, and Blanca, as well as a jam session with the skilled and talented Taksim ensemble. The production values are strong, and although the camera rarely holds still, cuts and pans are not obtrusive. Face shots are kept to a minimum. The focus is generally on the dancer, or the part of her body doing a particular movement. The sound quality is excellent, whether the music is live (ie. with Taksim's jam session) or canned. If you were so inclined, you could turn the video off and listen to this as though it were a CD.
In general, the dancers have large, expansive movements. Each dancer has her own musical taste. The music ranges from traditional Egyptian to Arabesque hiphop to new age breathy vocals. Although I doubt the style of every performance, costume, and song will appeal to any one person, I do believe the DVD is well worth the cost.
The DVD can be used as a costume show of sorts, with each dancer wearing a different outfit every time they dance. Mostly the dancers are in bedlah (the bra and skirt "uniform" of the belly dancer), although the first dance is performed in a one-piece brown velvet dress.
Among my favourite performances are Blanca's floorwork improvisation. I really didn't like her skirt (I couldn't help but think she's wearing diapers under it!), but I'm a sucker for good floorwork, and she has an excess of style, grace, and strength. I enjoy her presentation of Turkish folds (going back and forth from kneeling backbends).
I also enjoy Jenna's drum solo improvisation. What I like in particular is how the DVD shows the way a dancer interacts with a live band. It's very playful, and fun to watch. Her movements are tight, and an excellent interpretation of the music. And she does it all in really high-heeled shoes.
The other performance of note is Jehan's 21st Century Priestess choreography. Although I'm not completely comfortable with the in-your-face sexuality of her performance (shimmying kneeling backbends with crotch to the audience, and rolling around like a total sex kitten), there's no denying this woman's ease of movement and powerful stage presence. I also fear for her neck with the violence of her head flinging (whiplash, anyone?). Nevertheless, I find her dancing inspirational, partially because she's a very strong dancer, but also because she proves undeniably that a plus-sized woman can do all the same stuff a skinny woman can do, and maybe even with extra oomph."
Shimmy Shimmy Y'all!
Parthena Black | Oklahoma | 05/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the "About This DVD" section, Neon explains that her goal was to create a performance DVD that expresses what we feel everyday in our lives while leaving behind the parameters of bellydance origin, technique and history. She accomplishes just that and does a superb job. It may be a good idea to include this statement on the cover if it's ever re-designed.
The performances are mostly done to non-traditional music by Jehan. The music is mystical and sensuous and really hooked me. I was disappointed to find that all of Jehan's CD's are completely sold out when I visited her site. Neon, Blanca and Jenna express the messages of the songs, truly interpreting them through their dance. These dancers also demonstrate the sense of empowerment that the dance has given to so many of us. My instructor would describe them as "real" as they are not "performing." They dance with a clear sense of freedom, emotion and joy rather than stiff, rehearsed routines. Each dancer is obviously enjoying herself and this is so important in this dance - they're definitely letting their inner goddess out to play, and She's having a blast. The performances are very sensuous without being overtly sexual or inappropriate and the sets and costumes are absolutely magical. There are candles, veils and an amazing sword duet.
The most outstanding part of this DVD, I think, is Jehan's performance. This is the first and only performance DVD that I've seen that features a goddess-sized dancer in all her beauty and magnificence. They deserve kudos for that.
If you're not stuck in the mindset that traditional middle eastern dance should not be deviated from, have a true appreciation of art and recognize bellydance as an art form, you'll appreciate this DVD. The dancers truly demonstrate the creative and expressive spirit of the dance and are true artists. If you practice this style of dance as we do in our troupe, you'll be inspired by these excellent performances. Whether you are a dancer or just a fan of the dance, opening your mind and heart to this break from tradition will show you the incredible art that is possible in bellydance."
Five stars for dancers and producers!
Ice Jewel | 03/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Golden Apple DVD packs a lot of dance, music and video artistry into its 55 minutes. It's the best-produced belly dance performance video I've seen. The colors and effects are amazing. The camera respects the dancers, it serves and admires them, none of that choppy editing typical of most other bellydance performance videos. Lots of closeups, but all very discreet, no random focusing on body parts. Angles switch often, but the movement is depicted consistently. Every move is finished and you can see all choreographies in full.
You will hear traditional bellydance music by the "Taksim" ensemble (New York) and modern "arabesque fusion" music by Jehan, a New York singer-songwriter-dancer. It's great to be able to understand the song lyrics and see how the dancers relate to them. You can also turn on optional subtitles and read the lyrics! That's the coolest feature I 've ever seen on any dance DVD. The set is a black stage decorated with a cascade of live candles and also a lush restaurant with Arab decor.
Dancers: JENNA who has just moved from NY to LA is one of the best dancers I've ever seen, her style is very refined and graceful. The way she interprets the music honors the music. She performs a dance to an Arabic song wearing an embroidered velvet gown, and it's a gorgeous choreography. "Lama Bada" song with the band, also great, and an amazing drum solo, so cute, sharp and engaging I had to watch it 3 times before I could move on!!! Her interaction with the drummer was warm and entertaining.
BLANCA comes from Mexico, but her dancing is totally New York. Her first costume is heavily beaded (it's the one on the cover). She articulates bellydance movements like nobody else I've ever seen, she looks relaxed and glowing like she's dancing on the beach, but her movements are strongly defined and passionate. She descends from a throne or a pedestal high above the stage holding two candles, dances with the candles, then you see her dance with a veil. The veil song is "Oceans of Ecstasy" by Jehan and the refrain says "touch me with your eyes", cute! Blanca's dance style is infused with subtle drama and is very modern. Her second number is all floorwork!! Superb! The "Poem of the Sword" duet by JENNA and BLANCA is very athletic and mysterious.
The third New York dancer is NEON, who is originally from Moscow!! Her first number was believe it or not, a rap song (remember, this is New York bellydance!) with the flavor of world music. It's about a man's spiritual journey and self discovery. Totally original and really great. Her costume is all pearls and green leaves of sheer fabric. Neon has her own dance style, elegant, modern and theatrical. She is extremely flexible. Sometimes her body seems to melt.
The DVD also features one performance by Jehan, a full-figured dancer of awesome skill and charisma. She dances with a fearless abandon, and after hearing her songs I felt I really identified with her in her dance. Music seems to radiate from Jehan, it is internal to her.
I happened to buy this DVD together with an old bellydance video, "Arabian melodies", from the '80s. Compare them, and you will see that the gap between the two is not just 20 years, but two centuries! The dancers are all great, but the evolution of dance style, costuming, music and attitude is unbelievable."