Reviewed by Monet
The video begins
with footage of Princess Farhana dancing at various events and
performances, and some of this performance footage is
not the best quality video. Next, we see her seated, discussing
a brief history of Bellydance.
turns her eyes to the left, until it becomes a distraction.
Is she reading from a cue card or watching someone?
As the camera
pans in for a close-up, it stops. This stoppage detracted from
her informative introduction. Then the video instruction
There is no
disclaimer – verbal or otherwise – as we start the warm-up section.
Again, she continues looking off to the side. You can clearly
see what she is doing with the exception of her knees. She failed
to mention whether one’s knees should be soft, bent, or straight.
Princess Farhana did not give much explanation during the warm-up.
At some points, the music is louder than her voice and I had to
make repeated attempts to raise the volume.
The next section had
the title: "Posture". Farhana does a very good job of
stressing the importance of a good dance posture and one’s stance.
The arm section
of the video covers a couple of basic styles but is quite brief.
discusses hip in the following sections:
hip is next. She gives good explanations
on “lift, drop and flick.” However, as we move into small
circles, there is no explanation regarding one’s knees or feet.
She uses a "magic marker" analogy to help us with the
P. Farhana calls
the large hip circle a "butt wipe" that I thought was
funny (although a bit coarse). She shows these movements well
in the large circles so you can see her knees, but when she does
the small circles, and side circles on one hip, conceivably, beginners
would be clueless as to what to do with their knees and feet.
She does a cutesy combination in the circle section, but she assumes
some basic knowledge that may not exist. There is no explanation
given during the first two times she does a "front, side,
back" combination, but it is possible to see what she is
doing! The third time through this move, she explains it.
on to the shimmies and traveling steps:
explains the Basic Shimmy (bending and straightening knees) thoroughly,
but I found the section too short with no practice, for a dancer
attempting to do the movement along with her.
She proceeds on to talk
about doing an "Up Hip Traveling Choo-choo Shimmy,"
again, assuming more knowledge than a beginner might have.
P. Farhana does
the move later, but she gives no knee info and never mentions
to do it on the balls of the feet although clearly she is perched
on her toes.
The hand movement
section of this video is very short, but the explanations are
clear and complete. Again, she does not allow much practice time,
and she only demonstrates it on her right hand. Her hand articulations
are very smooth! The arm and hand technique section could have
combine easily with both the arm and the hand movement sections.
I wished that she had spent more time on her explanation of the
movement she called “Snake Arms.”
on layering the basic shimmy allots more time for practice of
the arm and hand techniques previously demonstrated. This section
is long and includes good practice using all of her techniques.
The best section in
the video is the “Figure Eight.” P. Farhana does an excellent
job explaining all types carefully. Again, my only complaint is
her lack of explaining placement of one’s knees!
You can see
that she holds her knees in a soft position, but a mention of
what they are doing would have been even better. She uses good
hand movements to help one visualize the “Figure Eight” movements.
She focuses on technique and shows variations of each movement,
including level changes.
she jumps right in. She accomplishes her camel with little explanation,
while her “Chest Lift” variation receives a more thorough explanation.
She does level changes with the undulation but does not talk
about them. She explained her “Rib Cage Camel” well with visualization,
but as you are practicing the move, the instruction becomes a
voice over the image of Farhana dancing and the video proceeds
into her performance. It is an interesting segue, --but what
if her student is still working on the “Camel?”
Before the beginning
of her performance, a scroll comes across the screen to warn one
to keep an eye open, as she will be doing some of what she has
taught in her performance! Her performance is creditable and she
includes much of what she covered in her instruction. However,
the performance was a little too long. Yes, it was
good, but quite long.
Overall, this is a decent video!
She smiles many
times during her instruction and has a pleasing personality. This
video gives a slight “homemade” impression—compared to some other
videos I have purchased recently. The Introduction of Princess
Farhana’s video is a little unimaginative on its graphics, but
the musical selections are quite good. For whatever reason, graphics
in the menu are much better than those used in the Introduction.
overall is good, but the music (at times) over-powered her voice
in volume. The volume of her vocals in the beginning was better
than it was later in the video. The video was well lit and shot
straight on, employing many close-ups. The background of a blue
satin curtain “displayed” her well, costumed in a black Choli,
stretch pants, and matching hip belt.
While this video
is may work for a beginner, I do think it would be best suited
for a beginner who already has taken a few classes and has some
basic knowledge of Bellydance techniques and movements. I do not
think this video would be of great interest to intermediate or
advanced level dancers.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Belly Dance, Burlesque and
Beyond: Confessions of a Post Modern Showgirl by Princess
Gehman) “BUT WAIT!!!” I can hear you screaming, “
BURLESQUE IS STRIPPING!”
Review of Princess
Farhana's Bellydance & Balance: The Art of Sword and Shamadan
by Eugenia Chao
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.
2-17-06 Belly Dance Superstars
~Raks Carnivale! Review by Dondi Simone Dahlin
I jaded because I was part of the company for so long? Am I unable
to view the show from unbiased lenses? How I yearn to have virgin
eyes, seeing belly dance for the first time.
"How to Bellydance
with Dondi" DVD Review by Megan Marietti
is a beautiful, voluptuous woman, who's pleasing voice direction
matches her visual cues in perfect sync.
An Introduction to Egyptian Saidi Technique DVD Review by
what could be better than learning Egyptian Saidi technique from
an Egyptian of Saidi background who is the renowned master of
the dance? How about learning it from his partner, who breaks
the steps down verbally in the American teaching style!