Gilded Serpent presents...
Bellydance & Balance:
The Art of Sword and Shamadan
by Eugenia Chao
People who already know Princess
Farhana's impressive accomplishments and glamorous
credentials might be a bit taken aback upon putting "Bellydance
& Balance" into their VCR and pressing "play".
While Farhana is a brilliant performer, the video looks a bit
like it was filmed with a handheld camera, and the sound quality
is nowhere near professional. These realistic qualities,
however, might make viewers feel like they're sitting in Farhana's
living room with her, or taking a private lesson in her studio.
Even the tape itself has the humble appearance of a homemade,
may not be the most professional-looking bellydance video you
ever bought, but it definitely serves its instructional purpose
-- perhaps more so than many high-budget productions.
A full 48
minute video includes a brief history of the dance, warm up, stationary
and traveling movements with sword balancing, and a shamadan or
history segment of the tape shows beautiful paintings and photographs
of historical and fictional dancers balancing objects such as
jars or swords on their heads as they perform. Farhana herself
narrates during this informative part of the video. This
section would make a great introduction for bellydance students
and any audience unfamiliar with the dance form.
& Balance" is for beginning balancers, not beginning
through different movements combined with sword balancing fairly
quickly. Only balancing techniques are addressed and none
of the movements are explained, so the viewer must already know
basic hip moves, undulations, drop kicks, belly flutters and rolls
as well as some floor moves. One might find it difficult
to follow Farhana through all the movements while successfully
keeping the balance object (book or sword) at the center of one's
head (my book was slipping all over the place); this video has
challenging technique combinations that one can practice again
and again to improve gradually each time. In other words,
you get many classes out of one video tape.
In the warm-up
segment, Farhana teaches the viewer some excellent ballet-inspired
plies and releves that strengthen calf muscles. (She can
do a full split -- definitely the most flexible teacher I've ever
seen.) She also makes sure that the neck and shoulder areas
are fully warmed up for balancing later. Farhana teaches the whole
routine twice, once with demonstration and her counting the beat
only (no captions or explanations), the second time with captions
that break down the choreography.
highly versatile routine can be adapted to different kinds of
slow music with either sword or candelabra.
a little while she talks, and looks slightly bored, but the advice
she gives is valuable. Here are some of her gentle warnings
to the aspiring balancer-bellydancer:
1. Do not
leave your candelabra alone in a car. (Farhana's shares her personal
negative experience with this.)
2. Clean the
wax residue off the cups that hold the candles.
candles are extremely heavy, even if you don't think so at first.
4. Be sure
to know the locations of curtains, draperies, and air conditioning
vents in the venue where you will be dancing. This prevents starting
a fire or wax being blown all over your body.
gives the viewers helpful tips about purchasing and caring for
swords and candelabras.
tape ends with Farhana doing a beautiful, fluid candelabra routine.
She is simply fantastic.
If you are
willing to look past the home video quality and quaint cheesiness
of this tape, do check out Princess Farhana's "Bellydance
video is now digitally re-mastered for professional sound quality
in DVD format.
For more information contact the Princess
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Interview with Mahmoud Reda
Part 1: The Beginning by Morocco
Ministry of Culture should be of help, not a source of problems.
But anyway, they had control of all the theaters, so to find a
theater we must go to them, but they gave us problems. I don’t
know why; maybe they were jealous!
Rhythm and Reason Series,
Article 3, Community Warfare by Mary Ellen Donald
and again I hear dancers deplore the fact that in many parts of
the country there are warring camps among dancers; that is, groups
that openly oppose each other and that try to keep all useful
information and all jobs to themselves.
Carnival 2005 Page 1 June
11-12, 2005, Glendale,
help us identify faces. Thanks!
A SuperStar Jillina’s Drum Solo Workshop in Vancouver
If you have the opportunity to dance with this amazing, educated,
experienced, beautiful, and did I mention fun? woman, do not hesitate
to do it. It is worth every penny and every minute!
Sultans of the Night
performing Pandora’s Legend Review by Said el Amir
Olympic Hall Munich, Germany April 27, 2005. What progress
it is to see Belly dance as something more than a flesh show!