Stellar Body: Belly Dance with Fire by Neon
Production Values: Neon's Dancing: Music: Music Choice: Overall Zorba Rating:
Shira's review page for this video.
2007, apparently region free , run time 35 minutes.
Neon presents several dance vignettes on a celestial theme. Wings, candles, fire, and Shemadans feature prominently.
As the above quintuple entry ratings show, this reviewer found this video very hard to rate. The reason should be obvious from the ratings - Neon's choice of music. The music itself is new-agey and cool - I like it. But as my instructor said when I loaned her the video "This is the BEST example I've seen in a long time as to why Belly Dance should be done only to Middle Eastern Music!".
I'm afraid I must agree with this assessment. Unlike the new-agey music Ayshe uses in some of her videos, this music didn't even have a Middle Eastern beat. As a result, Neon's dancing, while very beautiful (I love her flowey dance style), just doesn't go with this music. Oftentimes, it even looks like different music was dubbed in than what she actually danced to.
Neon's choices of music are often controversial - comments made about some of her instructional videos mirror mine: "Love, LOVE her instruction, utterly *hate* the music; I turn it down and play other music with the video" is one comment someone made.
The entire video is very "MTV-esque". While I'd prefer straight dancing (with Middle Eastern music), the effects generally aren't overdone here. There are a some fairly abrupt angle changes with some star-like or other special effects that would be jarring if traditional music were used - so in this way at least, the advant guarde music works.
YMMV, Your Mileage May Vary - you may like or not mind the music, and Neon's dancing is well worth watching - dare I say "spectacular"?
With this said, let's get on with it.
There are 8 separate dances:
Arrival of the Celestial Object
Here Neon dances with a lit candle tray skillfully balanced on her head the entire dance. Images of stars and nebulae are projected behind her in a pleasing way.
A sheer veiled Neon briefly starts with a (different) candle tray on her head, then appears with gossamer wings! She's wearing a very nice orange cabaret costume, and there are occasional falling meteor effects behind/around her. Flowing veils are intermittently superimposed on the image and even two Neons at once appear at times. The sheer veil over head with candle tray reappears eventually to end this dance.
This one starts with a dual image Neon in a nice yellow costume balancing a cool Shemadan. Eventually the video morphs into a single image as she continues dancing. Superimposed veils and a closeup Shemadan are seen briefly before a triple image of Neon appears - Neon in the center continues dancing with her Shemadan while mirror images Neons approach from each side with hand candles. When the view morphs into triple Neon with Shemadans, the non-traditional music becomes obvious as the three images are purposely NOT in sync. If traditional music had been used, this disparity would have been painfully obvious; as it is, it isn't as noticeable as the dance isn't in sync with the music anyway. Several rapid cuts between differing numbers of Neons both with and without Isis wings end this number.
Neon features a nice red costume in this segment. Very few effects, cross fades, and no props are used whatsoever. Just Neon dancing against a black background. If the music had matched her wonderful dancing, this would have been the best segment yet. As it was, I found it boring.
Return of the Comet
"Return of the Comet" features the "Return of the Candle Tray"! With Swallow Tail gossamer Isis wings and the pretty orange costume seen earlier. I admire Neon's balancing skills in this piece, especially while wielding the wings - but by this point the segments are all starting to look the same - that darn music! Near the end, the candle tray suddenly morphs into a flower tray - yawn...
This one has projected background images, similar to the first number. In place of the nebulae, we see what appears to be Latin text in an archaic looking font. Ok...
Neon's costume is best termed "Modern Cabaret", a white/gold mini-skirted outfit that I find attractive, even if I am personally a traditionalist - it works for her. With wings and Shemadan, she proceeds to dance using some different hip moves than seen before. Sa'idi hip drops or no, the music lets this one down and her skilled dancing starts looking like everything else. Towards the end, the Shemadan disappears and the dance becomes more interesting with more variety of movement and some beautiful wingwork.
Granddaughter of a Russian Missile Designer
A flower tray appears, Neon balances it and dances against a plain black background mercifully free of Latin text. Unencumbered by wings, Neons excellent hand/armwork shows up here very nicely. There are a couple of non-sequiturs with Neon doing floorwork and dumping the flowers out of her tray - probably done to relieve the boredom of the music...
Stellar Nebulae Hypothesis
Yet another candle tray number, this one with a LOT of candles on it. Neon dances well, balances the tray well, and has great armwork. But didn't we just see this?
What I liked about this video:
Not just Neon's beautiful dancing, but her arms most especially. As a dancer who struggles with arms myself, I'm most impressed with Neon's. The fire props work well with her celestial theme, and the whole thing is a work of beauty.
As with all of Neon's "World Dance New York" videos, production values are very high, the dancer (Neon) is always clearly visible, sound is perfect, etc.
Its on DVD, and priced very affordably!
What I didn't like about this video:
Non-traditional music that doesn't go with her dancing, as above. The video depends upon props and special effects to differentiate the vignettes - otherwise they all look the same - or at least very similar - because of the uninspiring music. Neon's wonderful dancing deserves better.
I really wanted to like this video, and one or two vignettes done in this style would have been far better than an entire 35 minutes where they all start looking the same. I love props, especially the wings, veils, and Shemadans used here - but I feel they are OVER used in this case.
You can purchase this video from the World Dance New York WebSite.