Zorba, Male Belly Dancer

Henna Design The Bellydancers of Cairo Henna Design

The Bellydancers of Cairo by Natasha Senkovich

Overall Zorba Rating:

Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture

2006, region free DVD Logo, run time 73 minutes documentary, plus considerable time for performances.

The Bellydancers of Cairo video
Natasha Senkovich documents the challenges of the Belly Dancers in this most ancient Egyptian city...

The main part of this DVD is documentary in nature. Natasha Senkovich interviews a number of dancers, and men in the city of Cairo. A lot of time is spent with "Samasem", a "retired 5 star Cairo nightclub performer". We return to Samasem repeatedly as she gives us much of the cultural background and current situational background of the dance scene in Egypt.

A number of dancers are interviewed: Samasem, Lucy, Dina, Nagwa Sultan, Khayyreya Mazin, Rabab, Eman Zaki, Nagwa Fuad, Aida Nour, Doaa Hegazi. Katia, Marwa, and Dunia. Other historic dancers are discussed, including Samia Gamal and Taheya Cariocca. A number of Egyptian men are interviewed, and even a somewhat feminist Muslima in Los Angeles. Lots of performance clips are seen, and the subject is discussed from all angles, including the generally bad depiction of dancers in cinema.

Regardless of who you ask, the verdict is the same. Belly Dance is on the wane in Egypt due to increasing conservatism backed by religious fanatics. This is a sore subject for this reviewer - I figure we're about 20 years behind Egypt in developing our own "American Taliban" which will give us similar results. Some more liberated males said they'd date and/or marry a dancer, but she would have to give up dancing. One man said "No man of any country wants his woman dancing in front of other men" (paraphrased). This shows the perfectly normal, but still lamentable human trait to see one's culture as the center of all. He'd be scandalized, no doubt, if I were to tell him that I enjoy seeing my wife dance for any/all - and that I'm a dancer too!

The people mostly LOVE their dancers, but are driving them away at the same time because of this religious nonsense...

Ok, this is a video review, not one of my (in)famous philosophical rants, so I'll knock it off now...

In all, the documentary is wonderful and well done. Production values are good.

Additional Material

Buried in the "Special Features" section is a wonderful surprise - performances by some of Egypt's best. I'll give a quick run down:

In all, the performances were very good. These Egyptians show a passion that isn't seen as often elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed Khayyreya Mazin, Rabab, and Diana as they're older and their dance shows it. Older women just have an "it" that cannot be imitated by the younger crowd. Camerawork was, for the most part, acceptable. A lot of these performances were taped "live" with all that entails, people walking between the camera and the performer, occasional Monkey-Cam, etc.

The Rest of the Additional Material

The other item under the "Special Features" section is a 21 minute discussion with Natasha Senkovich and her cameraman. This is an interesting extension of the documentary idea as they expand upon the attitudes and culture in Egypt towards their dancers.

Back at the main menu there are selections for various BellyDance superstars videos and merchandise. This is not a BellyDance superstars video, but Miles Copeland assisted in marketing and distribution of it - a good thing as it makes it affordable and easily available.

What I liked about this video:

A lot. I enjoyed the documentary portion detailing the conflated opinions Egyptians have towards their dancers, loving yet reviling them at the same time. The performances hidden as "Special Features" are a gem. I particularly enjoyed the performances of the older dancers.

Its on DVD, and its affordably priced.

What I didn't like about this video:

Not a lot to dislike. The camerawork in some of the performances could have been better - but is mostly understandable under the circumstances. The flashing lights at Lucy's club sucked. Maybe that works live, but it doesn't transfer to video well. I probably would be just as annoyed if I were to be there live!

You can purchase this video from the Link opens in new window Artemis Imports.

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