Solos: The Best of Alexandra King 1984-1994
Solos: The Best of Alexandra King 1984-1994 by Alexandra King
Overall Zorba Rating:
2005, (apparently region free) and 2003, , run time 64 minutes.
Alexandra King is a well known dancer and instructor in Santa Barbara, California who has produced two each: instructional videos and performance videos.
Disclaimer: I've taken more workshops from Alexandra King than any two other instructors combined. Partially because of availability, largely because she is one of only three instructors from whom I'll take a workshop without knowing or caring in advance what the subject will be. Obviously, I'm in awe of Ms. King!
The video is divided into 4 chapters:
- Dance 1 (Plaka Greek Restaurant, 1984)
- Dance 2 (1988 Winner, Belly Dancer of the Year)
- Dance 3 (Plaka Greek Restaurant, 1992)
- Dance 4 (Performing with the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, 1994)
"Dance 1" is a very enjoyable American Cabaret routine, with lots of zills and a nice veil piece. Like most old school dancers, Alexandra is mistress of wearing zills while doing veilwork! As is often the case with live performances taped in restaurants, this section is a bit dark although for the most part Alexandra is easy enough to see as she dances in a lit area with a few, infrequent side trips into darker areas. This section is a bit grainy, most likely due to its age; but the camera work is very good, no "monkey cam" or MTV effects. Alexandra is wearing a dark costume with a dark veil, which show up OK in the lit area, but disappear the few times she's in a dark area.
"Dance 2" is a stage production that includes veil and floorwork. The drum solo she performs to is the same one I use for my Shemadan dance! Alexandra is wearing a white costume on a well lit stage. Unfortunately too well lit as her costume appears very washed out here - the classic photographic metering problem found with white costumes against dark backgrounds. The camera work here is stellar, not even an annoying breast or hip close-up - we can see what she's doing at all times! This section also is showing its age (A pox on tapes!), its a bit on the soft side.
"Dance 3" being shot in the same venue as "Dance 1", has similar lighting issues. Indeed, at the very beginning of this section, the camera follows Alexandra through the restaurant where the darkness obscures everything. However, this is only a few seconds and she doesn't really start dancing until she gets to the spot-lit floor area. This time she's wearing a light costume, which also helps. Also like the first section, this one is a bit grainy and soft, although perhaps somewhat better. Alexandra treats us to a fast veil routine (boy can she do barrel turns!), which ends in a collapse to the floor where she does - you guessed it! - floorwork! Very nice, passionate, sultry floorwork of a calibre that I wish I could match! She can do this sideways slither thing while in a "Turkish fold" that travels across the floor. My boney knees and ankles hurt just watching! Camera work again, is very good.
"Dance 4" is performed to live music and starts with a cane number with Alexandra in a Galabeya! Being this section is the newest, the video quality is noticeably better. Camera work is very good. After the cane section, Alexandra turns her back to the audience and removes her Galabeya (directly in front of the bemused musicians) to reveal a stunning, glittery, black cabaret outfit. Somehow in that process, an enormous quad of Zills appear on her fingers. Her dancing here is stunning. Wonderful technique and stage presence.
All four performances are very well worth watching and are very enjoyable. The first rate camera work adds so much; no MTV, no "monkey cam", no gratuitous close-ups, no silly effects. Just great dancing. Alexandra is an inspiration to us all!
What I liked about this video:
Alexandra's wonderful dancing! What can I say? Her technique is flawless. If you like classical cabaret Belly Dance by an exceptional dancer, this video is for you!
Its a DVD! YAY!
No "Monkey Cam", gratuitous effects, or MTV camera work. Camera work is first rate!
While the video segments are from archival footage and show it, all the video is definitely watchable and enjoyable. Its nice to see a 10 year progression from the same dancer - all performances are first rate, but you can see Alexandra gain in dance maturity as the video progresses.
What I didn't like about this video:
While it would have been nicer if the Plaka restaurant segments had been better lit, that's the nature of live taping. A nit.
You can purchase this video from Alexandra's WebSite.