Gothic Bellydance Revelations: A Review (sort of)


Fusion is taking over the world of bellydance in a big way. We see Spanish fusion, ballet fusion and now even gothic fusion. I really love fusion and think that it’s a good way to expand your repertoire without excluding bellydance. I DO, however, feel that it’s important to remain firmly rooted in bellydance while BORROWING from other styles of dance to make a fusion style. Fusion dance is reflected in the costuming, music and a few movements taken from which ever style. I think that in a big way (with the exception of a few) the DVD, Gothic Bellydance: Revelations failed to do so. Some of the dancers got so involved with the Gothic side of it that they completely abandoned the bellydance side – which seems rather stupid calling it “bellydance” then. I never expected the DVD to contain classic ME (Middle Eastern) music and traditional costuming, because those are the things that would change in a fusion style dance. But for example, one of the dancers dressed like a mummy with bloodshot eyes and writhed on the floor for about a minute, got up and did a few hip circles, chest circles, some sideways bellyrolls (which I’ve never seen!) and then lay on the floor and writhed some more. I didn’t understand where the bellydance was? It was only the second dance so I thought I wouldn’t judge too soon. The dance after that was full of promise! It was a group of girls dressed in plain Egyptian looking black dresses with gold coin belts over that. They were dancing on the sides and the main dancer was wearing the most gorgeous skirt. They did some nice combos and then the main dancer took her skirt off!! She was dressed in a full body stocking and lay on the floor writhing (see a pattern yet?). At this point I was ready to turn it off and try to forget the abomination. The DVD continues on in this way – I really was NOT impressed.

One of the "dances" where nothing happens

The DVD consists of people NOT dancing with dramatic looks on their face. Obviously there were a few dancers who did something, but it they were few and far between. One woman danced with butterfly shaped Isis wings, which were beautiful, but she didn’t really DANCE either – she just waved them around and looked serious. I do have to single out two dancers/groups that did a good job on this DVD. Sera Solstice & Ariellah. While Sera’s style is way more robotic and isolated, she kept it VERY bellydance, no writhing on the floor, no weird props, no smoke and mirrors – just good old bellydance moves. After this DVD I got new respect for Ariellah. I don’t like Gothic bellydance, but I think that Ariellah does it the way that it’s supposed to be done. She looks friendly and happy while she dances, she does nice flowy moves and the only thing that really changes is her costuming and the music choices. Even so, Ariellah’s music choices are industrial and more FUSION than gothic, I think.

To be completely honest, I think the whole “gothic” thing with regards to belly dance is a purely aesthetic fusion and should be (or attempts to be) based in tribal fusion belly dance. I did speak to a fellow dancer who is goth and I told her that I don’t understand the whole “goth culture” thing. She explained that Goths “dress like music” or something to that effect. (I wouldn’t quote me on that!) I guess I just don’t “get” it?

I am probably the biggest belly dance snob out there, but as a fusion dancer, I have to have some form of open-mindedness. I understand and accept that the dance form is evolving and constantly changing, it’s good for the dance form – we can’t be stuck in a rut! However, I am a complete quality snob, and I’m openly admitting that. When a fusion is done, it should be done correctly or at least tastefully with respect to the original dance forms that you are fusing.

From watching this DVD, I’ve gotten a rather bad first impression of Gothic Bellydance. With the exception of a few dancers on the DVD, I was incredibly disappointed with the skill level and general performances. Definitely a DVD I would say would be a complete waste of money to buy.

I’ve tried to word this review/my opinion in such a way as not to offend anybody, but if I did, please comment and argue with me. 🙂 Also, if you have any gothic belly dance videos you’d like to share that could change my mind about it – leave a link & description in the comments.

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14 comments

  1. The only really great thing about this dvd is the outfits in most of the performances. I myself am not big on the gothic belly dance thing. I’m all about tribal. Ariellah and I have discussed the topic before, She too, like me is very interested in thr gothic sub-culture and has the same religious views as me, but when it comes to dancing she’s all about tribal. To me its not about the way you look, its about the dance. In this dvd most of the dances were not that great or even interesting, although some of the outfits are really stunning, I would not watch the dvd more than once.

  2. We should all be quality snobs! If we are representing the art of bellydance, we need to focus on the quality of the dance, not just the costumes and music!

    Love your post, and thank you for the review! I have similar feelings about a video I saw with a “vampire” bellydancer. The concept was interesting, but I was embarrassed that they even called it bellydancing!

    ~Dilara

    1. Thank you for your post, LadyLirit! And thank you for reading! 🙂
      Unfortunately, I’m a hard nut to crack, and this didn’t convert me very much. The dancer in the first video is lovely and really very good. But for me, a lot of belly dance is about the expression on the dancers face – the pure enjoyment of the dance and I don’t get that from this video. I’m all for industrial fusion, and I really like some of it, but expression is key to me, I’m afraid.

      The second dancer, although lovely as well, I couldn’t connect with. Perhaps it is a fault of mine – I cannot connect to the music and therefore don’t really feel a strong connection with the dancer – maybe I just don’t “get it”?

      1. Well, I believe is a matter of taste. I understand the lack of expressions, I think Gothic belly dance has a lot of mean face, or no face at all, sometimes I miss that too. But again, taste is taste. =D

        p.s.: sorry about the english =*

  3. Yes, we find many concepts for costumes and creative ideas however I get disappointed when the bellydance portion of the art is misplaced during the performance. My company hires from time to time belly dancers and for the most part the clients we hire dancers for is appreciative but to me the belly dancer is displaying one of the most important factors; acting.
    Are we wrong here? Imagine an actor getting out of character.

    One time at a 50th birthday party for one of our clients, our belly dancer was openly conversating with the guests which I feel was taking away the “hidden magic”. Isn’t the belly dance better if the ‘dancer’ is mysterious? Perhaps even better if she doesn’t speak?

    One time I asked our hired belly dancer not to speak to the guests and to be completely in character and for the most part to remain mysterious, do the dance, play with her props, swords and walk straight out of the party.
    Half way through, she forgot and started talking between songs with the guests and in a manner which deflated the tension she created. Does anyone know what I’m talking about, please?
    It was working so well, at one point before she spoke 2 women came up to us and asked what country was she from. Before hand we introduced her as the Persian Exile, widowed 3 times from middle east wars and now for your viewing pleasure. It was awesome, right up to the part where she began conversating with guests in English.

    I want to sell the art confidently. thanks http://www.theprodjteam.com

  4. I’m familiar with Gothic bellydance – I’ve read up on it in my research. I haven’t seen this DVD for myself so I can’t exactly agree with you or stand up for the performers.

    I’ve heard of the “fusion” term used when describing some styles of bellydance. Can someone enlighten me as to the exact meaning?

  5. Thank you! I couldn’t agree more. I actually get fairly annoyed at level of cheese ‘gothic’ bellydance manages to achieve. By all accounts, I am one for the ‘darker’ things in life…books, music, fashion, the whole nine. However, the bellydance I enjoy is typically powerful and dark in its way without devolving into high school drama class. Glad someone out there agrees.

  6. I have been enjoying reading your blog – I like the video of you dancing, and the photo of you all together. I am learning to belly dance and want to upload one of me when I am good enough at it. Love your post about making your own outfit (I have made my own too), and am going to have a look at the website you recommend.

    I have a bellydancing blog at http://jewelsbellydancingblog.blogspot.com/ – feel free to visit.

    Jewel

  7. Hello. I would like to know, what musicians (artists / music producers) are making this tracks I listen in the DVD ? I like the music (Gothic / belly-dance) but I can not find the artists who have produced the music for the DVD. Can some one tell me names of artists e/o projects involved in this music style ? Regards !

    1. Hi Freeka! Thanks for reading my blog! There are many artists on this DVD and all very different. At the beginning of each song there is a name of an artist and name of the song. I wish I could help you more!

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