Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bellydance – the next level with Jenna - mini review

Bellydance – the next level with Jenna. Transitions, Turns and Layers. World Dance New York. 105 minutes.

This DVD commences with a warm up. Some elements of this warm up may not be safe for all dancers. I would recommend doing 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular activity before commencing the warm up. Some of the movements that she uses for the neck and head are now considered contraindicated – for example in head circles it is not recommended to drop the head right back. Figure 8 head rolls need to be performed very carefully.

The DVD then continues with hip work and upper body layering sections. These do not include a movement breakdown and move quite fast. Excellent for an advanced dancer with a good vocabulary wanting a fun follow along drill. They are done facing into a mirror. However, this might prove quite a challenge for an intermediate dancer! The DVD then contains a brief breakdown of 3 step turns, a simplified barrel turn without torso tilt, a 2 step turn with accent, a hip circle turn, a compass turn, a character (paddle) turn, a cross over turn, a turn with a twist, and spotting. This is followed by a turn drill.

This DVD contains two choreographies:
1 – a very cute intermediate to advanced short Saidi piece with a drum solo. Lot’s of variety and room to add your own flavours. Uses Celebration of Rhythm – Jehan – Goddess Dance..
2 – a lovely advanced level Egyptian choreography to Raks Bedeya – Yousry Sharif and Raqia Hassan -Wash Ya Wash 2. 7:53 minutes. This choreography has 27 combinations and would definitely increase most people’s skill. Advanced dancers will enjoy the variety it presents. This would be a good transition for dancers hoping to work with Raqia Hassan or other advanced Egyptian choreographers.

Both choreographies are broken down into combinations, and are presented in demonstration form for drilling. The choreographies are also performed in costume by Jenna. Her technique is clean and precise.

This DVD is excellent value. It is well structured for the experienced dancer, with minimal repletion - it assumes a lot of knowledge. It doesn’t really discuss Egyptian styling. It contains a huge amount of material very clearly presented. Highly recommended for dancers with a solid grasp of technique, particularly those with some experience in Egyptian styling. This is a nice DVD to practice along with. Both choreographies are cute enough to perform publicly. This DVD may be overwhelming for beginners or low intermediates.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

DVD recommendations

Hi folks

This week I’ve had two requests from readers for recommendations.

1. Suzanna Del Vecchio's Precision Motion Workout. The classic! When I ordered my first Suzanna Del Vecchi video it cost me $118 dollars AU with shipping. Ouch. (Thank goodness the dollar has now improved). But worth every penny. Practicing with it took me from a first term beginner to intermediate level very quickly. I actually recived comments from my teacher and other students on the speed I was progressing.
2. Hadia of Canada's Instructional Series Raqs Es Sharqi Volumes one to three.
Bear in mind the level of production is lower in independantly produced videos like Hadia's. Hers are also dubbed into English. They are a good into for beginner/intermediate students. They are instructional rather than a workout. Vol 3 which is on possible ways of interpreting rhythms is very popular and the combinations are a good challenge for the intermediate student. It could be used as a workout.
3. Delilah’s Absolute Beginning Belly Dance
4. Fat Chance Bellydance – Vol 1- 3
5. Keti Sharif’s Secrets of the Centre - focuses on the core moves of bellydance - important base techniques you need for arms, hands, belly, hips and feet. An additional section on veil and how to play finger cymbals included. Suits beginners and continuing students. Keti's video's are beautifully produced, the teaching is very, very clear. She is a very sincere and friendly instructor and a talented dancer.
6. Jenna’s Bellydance basics and beyond -World Dance New York.
7. Jenna’s Heart beat of Bellydance –World Dance New York. A fun intro into drum solo technique. Begginner - intermediate
8. Michelle Joyce’s Belly Dance Basics -
Instruction and Choreography for Beginners– Cheeky Girl Productions
9. Instructional Belly Dance with Jillina: Level 1 and 2

Intermediate (All of these also suitable for advanced dancers who wish to embed and consolidate their skills. Some of these will stretch advanced dancers but are accessible to intermediates due to the quality of the instruction! )
1. Egyptian Pop Choreography with Jillina – A well taught challenging choreography
2. Any thing by Keti Sharif - I have her 5 part series and A-Z tapes and they are pretty good. (Instructional/educational not workouts. Vol 1 with the musicians is great, and the classical bellydance Vol 2 has some great dancing).
3. Ali by Sahira. See my review below.
4. Sensual Bellydance By Blanca -World Dance New York. See my review below.
5. Secrets of the Stage Volume 1 
A performance course for belly dancers by Michelle Joyce – Cheeky Girl Productions
6. Pop, Lock and Shimmy
Drum Solo Technique and Choreography
For Intermediate and Advanced Belly Dancers by Michelle Joyce – Cheeky Girl Productions
7. Drills! Drills! Drills! by Michelle Joyce – Cheeky Girl Productions 
A complete workout for belly dancers of all levels.
Includes a choreography and finger cymbal drills
8. Anything by Zahra Zuhair
9. Mastering the Dance with Amar Gamal.
10. Magnificent Moves with Zahra Zuhair: Egyptian Technique, Combinations & Styling IAMED
11. Sonia & Issam - The Art of the Drum Solo
12. Aziza’s Ultimate Bellydance Practice Companion
13. Ava Fleming -Dynamic Combinations IAMED
14. Leyla Jouvana’s 21 Shimmies and 1001 Variations IAMED
15. Saroyan presents How To Play Finger Cymbals with Mesmera
16. Sizzlin' Hips and Sizzlin' Torso by Ava Fleming IAMED
17. Hadia - Red Hot Drum Solo

1. Bellydance - The Next Level: Transitions, Turns & Layers Jenna -World Dance New York. Will review soon!
2. Drum Solo Technique & Choreography with Sadie – IAMED.
3. Leyla Jouvana’s More Shimmies and 1000s of Variations – IAMED.
4. An Advanced Oriental Dance Class with Zahra Zuhair
5. Anything by Raqia Hassan eg her Technique Video Vol. VIII
6. Anything by Mo Geddawi
7. Anything by Farida Fahmy eg 2005. Farida Style 1: Advanced Technique.
8. Anything by Shareen El Safy
9. Anything by Aida Nour
10. Anything by Beata and Horacia Cifuentes

Videos that I wouldn’t recommend
(Not necessarily bad, but not to my taste or to my standards…)
1. Neena and Veena
2. Dolphina
3. Raqia
4. Amira Mor
I'm not a big fan of these DVDs - they don't teach some really important aspects of dance, including safe dance. I feel that they show some poor technique, and often have odd musical interpretation.
Check out some of the other great ones on offer.