Monday, December 3, 2007

BDSS - the review!

The Bellydance Superstars returned to NY and performed for a half-empty theater at Westbury Music Fair (now known as Northfork Theater) on Nov. 11. Yes, you heard that right. The place was AT LEAST half empty. And, as the theater is normally a theather in the round, it was already cut in half for this performance, to give the dancers a "backstage." So, technically, they were performing for a theater only 1/4 full....

Why was there such a small crowd there? Surely there are enough bellydancers in the NY area to at least make a decent showing when such a big event comes to town, right? (to their defense, there was a show two days prior in Manhattan, which I did not attend and therefore I don't know how many people were there).

Here's what I think.....

If you've seen the show once, you've seen it enough times to last a lifetime. That is, as long as they keep doing the same old thing. What do I mean by this? I've been to BDSS three times (the only time they came to NY and I didn't go, they were here performing a repeat of Raqs Carnivale) and each time it's the same exact format. Aside from last year's "girls on stilts" fiasco, and other little "tricks" thrown in here and there, the show is always the same. You know when you go to see a BDSS show, you are going to see:

  • Sonia and Isaam performing a drum solo;
  • Isaam doing his "clap to the beat while I spice it up and try to trick you" schtick (it was cute the first time around, but come on now! He even does it in the Folies Bergere dvd, so even if you haven't seen the show live, you know what I mean);
  • Jillina performing a drum solo while Isaam and Rachel Brice drum for her, and the Desert Roses will always come out at the end wearing galabeyas, they will all do some crazy zar movements and Jillina will always end on the floor;
  • Petite Jemila performing a double or quadruple veil routine which consists mainly of a lot of spinning (you know you have seen something too many times when spinning that much with four veils no longer impresses you) and (for the past two years) two of the Desert Roses will come out and do a whirling dervish thing behind her;
  • A not-quite-Polynesian number with Sonia in the lead (at least now they've taken to calling it "bellynesian".....??);
  • A dance that just leaves you going "Huh?" (ie: Adore's gymnastics, Dondi's "Marilyn", a new blonde dancer this year doing ballet, etc);
  • The group drum solo when one dancer attempts to "battle" Isaam with her finger cymbals (sorry, but no one can hold a candle to Ansuya and really shouldn't even try) and then she and three other dancers each take turns performing solo;
  • for the past two years, a reggaeton choreography, obviously choreographed by Jillina, who obviously knows very few "hip hop" steps because it was basically the same dance two years in a row.

It's just, well....boring. It's not that the dancers aren't great dancers - for the most part, they are. And it's not that I don't appreciate the lack of stilts and other in-your-face gimmicks, because I do. I guess I'm just over it?

Everyone I talk to about the show says their first time seeing the BDSS was their favorite. Whether it was last year, two years ago, or this time around. Maybe that's because after the first time, it's all the same?

What do you all think?


Suney said...

This was the first time to see them perform. I was actually shocked to see the theater so empty. There were some performances, like Petite Jamilia's veil dance that I just loved. I understand how you or anyone who have seen them for a second or third time would find it boring. It is not exciting when you expect to see something new even though it's belly dancing. I wasn't so thrilled with the ballet portion or a few tribal performances, although a few I did like. Overall, if they were to perform again, I would really hate to sit through a show I have already seen.

domesticdiva121 said...

I've seen 2 BDSS shows thus far and a few of their DVD's and I share the same opinion of Daniella. The shows are very much the same each time which makes no sense to me, because I would imagine fellow Bellydancers are the majority of their audience, thus wouldn't you want to change the show for repeat customers? to keep them coming back? I understand wanting to keep some of the elements that are successful the same, but I really think they need some assistance in the creative arena.

Don't get me wrong, I love the BellyDance Superstars and enjoy watching them dance, but a little orginality wouldn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

At least from what I've seen of clips (haven't had the chance to see the show live and not sure if I want to, if the rumors re. insurance and such are true), it looks like the same ol' thing again and again.

If Cirque du Soleil can keep it fresh, why can't BDSS?