The Complete Technique,
private lesson with Ayshe
a review by
I have to say that I must take a bit of an issue with the title
of this DVD. "A private lesson" with Ayshe? More like
an intensive, private seminar! This 2-hour
"workshop" is one of the most comprehensive instructional DVDs
for dancers I've seen.
said, this DVD is most definitely not for those looking for a
"quick fix" or wishing to learn how to use the "Wings of Isis"
in time for next Friday's performance. It is geared toward
serious dancers who are willing to expend the time and focused
attention to work through the material in a thoughtful way.
is a consummate dancer who is passionate about her work and this
comes through in the meticulous, detailed instruction she gives.
is also evident in production quality of the DVD. From the
opening shot of her spacious SkyLoft Studio with its clean lines,
to the instructional, modeling and performance sections, the videography
is superb. The sets are uncluttered with either a plain
black or light background against which Ayshe presents her instruction
in a well-modulated voice. Her costuming choices allows
for easy visualization of the concepts she is presenting.
dancers used to bellydance workout or similar fast-paced videos,
Ayshe's approach will require a shift in expectations.
From the initial
anatomy review covering spine, body masses and arms, it is clear
that there is quite a bit of didactic material to encompass before
the wings can be used safely and with graceful strength.
The clear, detailed explanations of the various body parts, articulations
and postures are demonstrated from different angles by Ayshe and
by Neon, who has a different physique.
is strong and athletic and favors a classical modality, which
derives from ancient Greek aesthetics. In this style symmetry
and grace are emphasized. For example, the arms do not cross
the midline of the body and the torso is lifted and arched.
Oriental dance forms are layered over this classical modality.
Also apparent are her roots in African, Flamenco and modern dance.
would have preferred seeing more of the familiar Middle Eastern
moves demonstrated, however it is not difficult to extrapolate
them from what is presented.
I missed hearing any familiar Middle Eastern music. Ayshe
prefers using a rather hypnotic, modernistic, almost New Age-y
type of music, which does work well with her use of wings.
Others may find it a refreshing change from "the usual".
the groundwork in posture and movement, Ayshe stresses proper
performance posture and safety. She recommends finding a
good instructor to ensure that the dancer will be working with
correct body mechanics while using the wings. In addition
to strength in the arms and shoulders, core fitness and flexibility
of Ayshe's instruction therefore focuses on preparatory exercises
for strength and flexibility. The amount of detail and precision
vis-à-vis proper execution of the exercises is exceptional.
may try the patience of, or even seem unduly tedious to, those
used to 5-second sound bytes and faster-paced material.
She brings a nuance to the lessons which may be frustrating to
those who simply want to "get on with it", but as an instructor
myself, I found the information insightful. She not only
covers the correct way to do the moves, but also illustrates common
pitfalls such as controlling unnecessary movements of the shoulders.
are generally shown from several different angles to aid the student's
understanding of the mechanics of the move. Many of the
exercises, which are legitimate dance moves in their own right,
would be useful for veil work as well.
A respected fellow
dancer who uses wings commented that she had watched the DVD and
thought that Ayshe "didn't teach how to use the wings". I
was surprised by that, since the DVD covered in depth all of the
- how to
hold the wings,
- wing tremors,
and articulations of the arms,
- path of
the arms relative to the torso,
turns and kicks,
to use based on where the audience is positioned relative to
- head movements
for group choreographies using wings,
two sets of wings simultaneously, and much more.
I can only
surmise that my colleague threw out the baby with the bathwater,
so to speak. The exercises, in many cases, are the
same moves one uses with the wings. There is, however, one
classic move, the "cocoon", which was shown but did not have the
comprehensive commentary that accompanied the other moves.
After each section of related moves, there is a practice, review
and improvisation section where Ayshe demonstrates in various
combinations what has just been learned.
to the instructional sections, there is also a chapter on the
wings' structure and styles, including the "swallowtail" wings,
which can be used in smaller spaces. Ayshe wears several
different gorgeous costumes paired with a variety of wings, mostly
double sets. She uses sheer wings, lamé wings and even wings
made of netting in a dazzling display of colors.
each change of wings and costuming, she performs a brief improvisational
dance, which serves as a review of the lessons as well as an inspiration.
The only thing
I disliked about this section was one of Ayshe's costumes, which
included a rather curious choice of some type of long, fuchsia
organza face veil that fell to the knees. To me it looked
out of place and a bit silly, especially in contrast to all the
other costumes, which comprised a true visual feast.
The DVD also
includes Ayshe's full, very powerful and dramatic "Oceans of Ecstasy"
performance in a nightclub. As with the rest of the DVD,
the production quality remains excellent, even in the somewhat
darkened club setting. In fact, there were only a few minor
lighting problems on the entire DVD, but these were so negligible
that if you weren't watching for them, you'd probably miss them.
As a final
plus, at the end of the DVD Ayshe includes resources for anatomy
and kinesiology textbooks, and recommended bodyworkers, ballet
and yoga teachers. Too bad they are all in the New York
I'd give "two wings up" to Ayshe's artistic vision and this comprehensive
and well-made DVD. Now, if I could only find a space large
enough to practice in.
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
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Belly Dance Super Stars Video
by Amina Goodyear
and Directed by Jonathan Brandeis Executive Producer: Miles Copeland.
"... However, as there is no audience,
most of the dancers have a difficult time conveying the emotions
of the dance to the video viewer. Only Jillina and Dondi seem
to overcome this obstacle. "
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Sandy’s instant success as a “natural belly dancer”
is a bit unbelievable!) and Sandy’s growing self-acceptance
and brightening future are compelling.