Monday, May 29, 2006

MED Videos

A question came up today in my beginner class. What are your favourite dance videos? This is a topic worth devoting a bit of time to, but I might start with a flow of conciousness response. I'll look at videos specifically for beginners in another post.

Suzanna Del Vecchio's 'Precision Motion Workout' is great. A belly dance hall of fame video. I got it when it first came out and I've been using it fairly regularly ever since. You will certainly see some improvement if you use it regularly. The other two in her set are also very good. I found 'Dynamic Combinations' quite challenging when I first got it. Modern American with a Greek/Lebanese influence.

Another one that I really like is Baraka's video 'Dancer's Toolkit'. I belive that this is currently out of print, but have heard that it might be rereleased. This one is great because it talks about posture, dance space and turns. American - influenced by folk like J. Salimpour.

Katia's 'Oriental Arms' is excellent for using your arms well. Mahisha's 'This is your hip 101' also has a good reputation.

I also like the Fat Chance Bellydance instrucional videos. They also have a mainstream media set - it's a nice cheap starter kit with a DVD, CD, Book and Zills - better than all the other cheap ones that I've seen. The zills are reasonable beginner zills unlike most cheap sets that one sees. The DVD has extracts from the FCBD instructional series, and Carolena is an inspiration! Her beginner video was the first one that I ever bought. It has now been re-released. Great if you like tribal style. The posture is rather different to modern egyptian, the musical interpretation is very different.

I like Jillina's Instrucional Belldance 3 DVD set too - very good value for money, and much better content than some of the mainstream videos. Modern American with a strong modern egyptian influence. Very heavily influenced by jazz. It's good for people who have a few moves and want to learn how to link them together... I quite like her drum choreo dvd too - nice teaching even though I'm not a huge fan of the style.

For serious intermediate++ dancers (those making the transition to advanced) I recommend Shareen El Safy's videos. Modern Egyptian - Shareen studied and performed with many of the greats like Souhair Zaki. These are advanced - the choreo may take a while for an intermediate+ to get but Shareen teaches a lot of subtle stuff about modern Egyptian posture that really makes a difference for most dancers. Bear in mind that you have to work hard with these - you are not spoonfed like many of the more commercial videos. The production values are rather home made but the content is fantastic. The dance history and explaination of how the greats did the steps that they became famous for are worth every penny! Not really suitable for beginners - may prove too frustrating because of the complexity and subtlty of the moves.

Raqia Hassan is another favourite - Modern Egyptian all the way. Suitable for advanced as choreography/technique is not broken down in the typical western way. You need to be able to "follow the bouncing butt"! She is Egypt's most famous female choreographer. Yowza! Again rather homemade production but priceless if you like modern Cairo style.

Another teacher who I really like is Zahra Zuhair. Her beginner tape is excellent for serious students-"Middle Eastern Dance Basics"- one of my friends has it. I love love love her "Advanced Oriental Dance class". Nice Combos. Fantastic shimmy drill!!! You WILL sweat! You'll grow as a dancer with this one!

Sahra Kents's "Sahra's Signature Series: Volume 1 - Arms and Torso" is another favourite - excellent technique work for real Egyptian style dance. I like her postural work. This builds real core (including back) strength for dance. Wonderful. Great for fixing sloppy arms. Her performance vids are nice too. I really really wish she would put out more videos!