You would think, given that I have a blog dedicated to dance videos and everything, that I would be totally up to date with Cheeky Girls’ Project Belly Dance. I’m not. I somehow never managed to watch the first season — what can I say, not only is life busy, but my husband is more interested in Top Chef, Project Runway, and RuPaul’s Drag Race (sometimes too interested…), so those are the reality shows I watch regularly. In fact, I even bought two of the DVDs that came out of Season 1, Project Belly Dance – The Final 6 and Andalee’s Musicality Matters, with the bonus disc. But as is usual with my life, I haven’t even gotten to watch those.
Anyway, since today was my day home with baby, I decided I would start watching Season 2. You know, enjoy the tension and everything. Baby watched quite a bit of it too — he was trying to nurse, but would sit up and look at the computer screen frequently, entranced by the belly dancing. I am raising him well.
Some first thoughts? First, I can tell that the producers really worked at making this a positive program, one that would show bellydance in a good light. We all know there is cattiness out there, whether at the amateur level or among pros, but the structure and editing here are all about good dancing vibes. Yes, this does not have the same kind of entertainment value as good ol’ reality show bitchiness, but I think it’s the right choice for bellydance. In fact, I read online that Lotus Niraja and Michelle Joyce were inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show that, at least in its first season, was also all about playing with reality show generic forms while keeping things warm and supportive.
The first episode has two sections. First, each contestant is introduced and performs a solo for the judging panel, and later, the contestants are challenged to produce a 1-minute group choreography and are invited to vote for the dancer who was best to work with.
While I was stunned by the level of choreography the dancers were able to come up with in such a short time — and by the fact that they made non-boring group choreo to boot — my favourite part was watching the solos and comparing the judge’s takes with my own. I found I often had similar reactions to some of the judges, but they had such better ways of explaining what I had seen — what looked captivating, what needed some work. And then there was a kind of attention to detail which is the hallmark of the pro. The judges noticed when a belt was off-kilter, when a facial expression was a bit too frozen, but also when the dancer had taken an artistic risk that was worth recognizing.
So which performance really stood out for me this episode? The sheer gorgeousness of LaUra:
One of the judges said LaUra is who she’d like to learn from, and this was totally my feeling watching her dance. It was sophisticated but felt natural, everything looked good, and I thought, “I want to learn to dance like that!” Also, great hands and arms. This dancer knows what to do with her extremities.
Also, let’s be honest. I love that dress.
What about you? Which performance was your favorite this time around?