Sequels can be risky when they have the hype of a previous show to live up to. Not to worry, belly-dancing diva Galit Mersand reassures us that this isn’t Lord of the Rings and so, thankfully, we don’t need to have seen the first one. This was the only moment in the show that made me giggle. Unfortunately, from that point on Mersand provoked laughter for all the wrong reasons.
There’s no doubt that Mersand can belly-dance and she shimmies and shakes her way about the stage with an energy that is enviable. Mersand’s show promises to make the audience rethink the way they view belly-dancers. She argues forcefully that men sexualise belly-dancers and that it isn’t a dance form which is respected. Mersand may have a point in her attempt to claim belly-dancing as an art form, but she would be better off showing this by just dancing, rather than lecturing her audience about it. Had she simply danced she might have merited another star, but her show consists of only a few dances put together with unforgivably bad jokes, terrible singing and an unnecessary amount of costume changes.
Mersand’s uninspiring jokes about sex fall flat and there were often prolonged periods of silence during which she waited patiently for us to reluctantly clap. The execution of the entire thing was shockingly poor. ‘It’s the first night’, she explained. Even her dance sequences are overly long and the story they attempt to tell is often lost, making the dancing itself appear ridiculous. The fact that it was the first night couldn’t justify Mersand’s attempt at singing, especially as she admits that she is not a professional singer. This is insulting to an audience who have paid good money.
There was one more song before her concluding belly-dance number which turned out to be a not-so-subtle plagiarism of the Wicked song ‘Popular’. In Mersand’s version the lyrics change only slightly into a song about learning everything it takes to have ‘sex appeal’. Not only is her singing abysmal, but this song completely undermines the feminist point she’s been constantly rambling on about. If this is meant to be ironic then Mersand’s humour doesn’t pull it off. The problem is that despite her rants against the sexualisation of belly-dancers she ends up withholding the values she rails against.
Mersand can belly-dance but that appears to be where her talent ends. If you enjoy awkward silences and out-of-tune singing then go for it, but my advice is that even belly-dancing fans will want to give this a clear miss.