Monique Monet’s Revolutionary Dance is a fresh commentary on the widely varied origins and evolution of belly dance. Beginning with Inanna and temple dancers, the story winds its way through associations with childbirth rituals to the influence of patriarchy and finally ends with modern day affects of the media.
Monet challenges the “authorities” in dance, pointing out the inconsistency in stories. She acknowledges and credits that all have validity for some people at some point in time, while posing the question of what it means to be a dancer in modern society. She suggests that serious students may be held back by perpetual teachers who think that the student may need “just one more lesson.” She illustrates this point with a quote from a Gypsy dancer who says, “Dance lessons? Why? That’s for people who are not Gypsy.” She also speaks against the media message of women not being the right age, right size, and right shape. Monet advocates for the dancer to just “please yourself.”
Monet accentuates her story with a beautifully chosen blend of photographs, historical images, film clips, and backdrops.
These images, combined with well-chosen music, punctuate Monet’s articulate narration, giving the viewer a clear understanding of her points of view.
The idea of “Revolution” sums up her message. To Monet, revolution refers to freedom from restriction in the dance. She says there is no right. No wrong. No mistakes. No rules. Only you and your dance.
Segments of Monet dancing are interspersed throughout the video. This is a useful inclusion that allows the viewer to see the embodiment of her words in motion.
Although informative, the unexpected inclusion of humor makes this also a joy to watch. It is quite unlike a documentary in that respect. Monet’s creativity goes for maximum hyperbole and works magnificently.
The video loses momentum with the inclusion of the telephone interview with Middle Eastern man, Alaoui Zagora. Although it appears to be meant to bolster Monet’s commentary, it slows down the flow and is a bit distracting. If cut from the video, it would be the perfect length. At approximately 40 minutes, it’s just a tad too long.
Monique Monet’s Revolutionary Dance should be rated G, and is indeed appropriate for general audiences. I recommend this video particularly for every dance instructor’s library. It is a fabulous teaching tool. Even if the instructor does not agree with the opinions stated within the video, it gives a concise rundown of the current prevailing theories that can be a jumping off point for discussion. For non-dancers, it is a positive representation of our dance form.
At $20, this video is affordable. Monet has no objection to the video being used to benefit contemporary Middle Eastern dance or the Romany people. These factors make it a good buy and an obvious choice for those seeking to educate the public and uplift the dance.