This video documented a live show being performed in front
of a live audience in a darkened theater. The lighting effects
were clearly chosen to optimize the experience for the live audience,
which in turn made it less suitable for the video audience.
This show was striving to be artistic. I applaud the attempt
to do it, even if I was dissatisfied with the end result. I'm
afraid I missed a great deal of the symbolism, and I never did
figure out for certain just what the narrator was initiated into,
though I'll acknowledge that it could be partly because I'm usually
not very adept at interpreting this type of thing. Much of the
story was told through poetry reading and other narration while
the musicians played background accompaniment that drowned out
much of the spoken text and made it hard for me to make out what
was being said. Eventually, I went to the Gypsy Caravan web site,
read the description of this video, and said, "Oh, is that
what it was about?"
What The Show Was Like
The show began with the narrator talking about how the typical
old style of belly dancing simply wasn't satisfying to her any
more. This led into a comment about going to the carnival, which
was the cue for the stage to fill with swirling dancers in voluminous
costumes. Next came a Gypsy fortune teller with a deck of cards,
followed by some slow drumming with flute improvisation and undulations.
The next dance was a woman dancing with a man in a black suit
with a mask. A poem was being read, but I couldn't make out what
it was about. The man's mask looked like a skull. They danced
a duet to a waltz rhythm. Later, the closing credits told me
this couple was Death and his consort.
About 21 minutes into the tape, the first "belly dancing"
was done, in the form of American Tribal group improvisation.
This led into a double veil solo which was done well. Following
this, Death and his consort returned to the stage and did another
waltz. I still hadn't figured out what "the skull guy"
had to do with the plot.
Next followed more voice-over, with the narrator reflecting
on her life. The fortune teller instructed her to wait for three
Muses, although I wasn't certain what would happen once the Muses
The three Muses appeared one at a time: Owl, Time, and Jezebel.
I managed to figure out that Owl was some kind of bird, although
I didn't know until the closing credits that she was an owl.
I couldn't make out the poem that was read during her piece.
Time was easily identifiable--the music played a tick-tock rhythm,
and the dancer did many poses with her arms moving like the hands
of a clock. Although I didn't realize at the time that she was
supposed to be Jezebel, the next dancer delivered my favorite
performance of the show: she did an enjoyable karsilama, ending
with a Turkish drop.
I didn't realize at the time that these were supposed to be
the three Muses that had been foretold--I was still waiting for
the Muses to appear. I think that's because I expected the Muses
to appear together at once as a trio. Also, the concepts represented
by these three dancers didn't really relate to the concepts represented
by the Muses of Greek myth. I think my knowledge of Greek mythology
got in my way here--the word "Muse" triggered a specific
idea in my head, and that idea prevented me from seeing what
the storyteller intended me to see.
Next a shirtless male dancer appeared on stage with a flute.
I later learned from the closing credits that he represented
Pan, the forest god. He strode about the stage pretending to
play the flute while flute music accompanied him. He led a woman
garbed in many veils about the stage. Over the course of their
pas de deux, he removed the veils one at a time. Once her final
veil was removed, she began to dance and he resumed his flute
For the next act, people appeared on stage holding three tall,
slender, foil-covered rectangular panels which I believed to
represent mirrors. A dancer emerged from behind each, then three
more dancers emerged. Their costuming was India-esque: cholis
and belts embroidered with shisha mirrors, and full skirts. The
shisha mirrors caught the light nicely and their twinkle enhanced
the effect of the dancing. With six dancers on stage, they did
a tribal-style group improvisation. This performance was stronger
than the earlier group improvisation. The dancing was enjoyable,
but the camera work and overlay special effects were too distracting
and ruined the effect of the dance for me.
The group exited, and a soloist appeared on stage. Another
dancer joined her. They were clad in matching leotards, belts,
and full skirts. It's too bad they chose black leotards, given
the poor lighting. Even their hair styles and color matched!
This led to a decision point: it was time to choice whether she
would stay there, or go back to her old life. It ended with the
The group came back on stage, and gathered in the background.
From behind them emerged a women in a white unitard with a sheer
white jacket. She did a number of gymnastic poses, including
the splits and several leg extensions. The group then came forward,
and the soloist from the previous number joined the gymnast.
Together, they did a duet that was effective use of posing. I
wish I knew what the gymnast represented. The gymnast then exited
the stage, leaving the soloist to finish.
The poetry resumed as the soloist continued to dance. The
drone of the supporting music drowned out the poem, so I don't
know what it said. The drum beat then picked up and a melody
line joined in. Each dancer or grouping of dancers took a turn
across the stage, doing a brief reprise of their earlier dance.
The fortune teller returned for a bow, and the closing credits
The closing credits mentioned the Queen of the Underworld
and her court. I never did quite figure out who they were or
where they appeared in the show.
You Will Probably Like This Video If
- You enjoy poetry reading, mythology, and tales of personal
- You're a fan of Gypsy Caravan.
- You've seen more than enough "typical" belly dancing,
and now you prefer to watch shows that tell a story, experiment
with form and style, explore distinct themes, or otherwise differentiate
themselves from the usual "belly dancing show" format.
- You enjoy artistic experimentation.
You Probably Won't Care For This Video If
- You don't like things that you think are "artsy-fartsy".
- You're very new to watching belly dancing, and you prefer
videos of performers doing "typical" shows.
- Poor lighting and excessive video effects interfere with
your ability to enjoy a video.
- You're not a fan of the American Tribal style of belly dancing.
- You're likely to be frustrated at not being able to follow
the story due to not always being able to hear the narrative.