Gilded Serpent presents...
Dance Today! Bellydance with Neon
DVD review by Dina Peace

The setting of this DVD makes it clear that the intention is to teach. A solid white backdrop starkly contrasts Neonís bright outfit (read: loud) so you can undoubtably see every movement that she executes. With this setting, World Dance New York presents another Neon video called Dance Today! Bellydance with Neon.

You would really have to love or be dedicated to learning bellydance to watch this video in its entirety. You have the option of choosing to learn two dances with or without music. Without the music, Neon demonstrates the movements for her choreographed routine and she focuses on precision and fluidity. With the music, you have the benefit of her unique counting system, and you may look similar to Speedy Gonzales while you dance (I will speak more on that later). There are two demonstrations she offers, a slow mid-tempo song and a faster drum solo routine. She also has a bonus performance and gives information on where to buy the music if you intend to perform her routines for the public.

Neonís personality is patient and soothing. She reminds me of the cast members of Sesame Street or Mister Rodgers when she teaches. Itís like learning how to count again.  Or maybe itís like learning how to write in cursive for the first time. Either way, her education style harkens back to the days when I carried a Wonder Woman lunch box every morning, my best friend was invisible and nap time was the best part of the day. 

Neon assumes that the student is a beginner and she creates such an art form from her patience that I donít feel like the worldís dumbest student when watching her dance. Little girls may love this video.

My pride, however, was not insulted. Go ahead Neon, clap your hands and count from one to eight as if I just stopped teething yesterday. I donít care; I want to learn how to be a better bellydancer and if I learn effectively from a professional performer who reminds me of my kindergarten teacher, then so be it. However, others who have racked up considerable skill and experience may want to pass this video by. For those who are willing to put aside their egos and learn very, very basic yet cute moves (like me) then read on....

The first choreography is set to slow tempo danced as a sensual, serpentine-like routine. It was difficult for me to follow along with Neon. She dances the combinations as she teaches them, then as you progress to combo #3 or 4 she will perform that combination and then do the routine from the top to where you last left off. The sequence of the demonstrations does not flow smoothly. It felt as if the editing needed some work because when I tried to do the demonstrations, I was stopped abruptly each time she began from the top. I hope that I donít sound crazy, but that is the best way I can describe what she was doing!

The music is in slow to medium tempo and there is a counter that goes up to the number eight to let you know when to execute the next move. I think that it was Neonís intention for the viewer to be aware of the music as well as the choreography. Good innovative idea. The problem is that throughout this 120 minute video, Neon forgets to mention the purpose of the counter in the first place. She is very thorough in her instruction about the beats in the music, how to align your body, and basic technical application of the dance, but she says nothing about that funny looking counter on the left side of the screen!

The next choreography Neon teaches is set to a drum solo; she warns the viewer that this is intermediate level and she will go a little faster. The choreography is a bit faster and she emphasizes more shimmies, kicks and undulations. When she performs the dance, she does pretty well. My concern was a pelvic thrust she does a couple of times in the middle of combo #5 and combo #11 in her routine. She tells us that it is merely a pelvic drop, but it sure looked like a thrust to me. I was taught that you donít do that frontal with the audience. It looks suggestive. At least, it sure did to me.

At this point, I decided that my best bet was to perform her drum solo without the music.  With the music, the sequences stopped too abruptly and I felt as if I was overdosing on caffeine from all the hopping I was doing. When Neon dances her drum solo routine, she is very clear and precise. I just wish that there was some background music or maybe a flying monkey playing cymbals walking past to break up the monotony of her speaking.  She smiles, gives it all sheís got and looks to be having a good time, so if you donít mind just hearing her talk and execute movements for thirty or more minutes, then this video is for you. If you donít mind bellydancing to music with an instructor who not only reminds you of your kindergarten teacher but also a kangaroo on speed, then this video is definitely for you. Like I said earlier, my intent is to learn and she is an efficient, capable and talented instructor... and I like kangaroos.

Again, if you are an experienced dancer, then I donít know if this video would be useful for you, unless you are a fan of Neonís. But for all you beginners out there, this might not be a bad investment for you. The video is thorough, precise and innovative in teaching. The video is also monotonous, awkward during its faster moments, and if you have a big ego, a little Playskool-ish.

Both routines are not extremely difficult to perform, even if this is the very first bellydancing video that you had ever watched in your life. Neonís video is a decent choice to break a person into the art of bellydance. She wants to teach you to dance, thatís it. No frills. She doesnít bother with giving any warm up or cool down. Just the facts maíam, and the fact of the matter is that she gives the bare bones of bellydance according to her experience, talent and interpretation.

In her finale, she gives a performance against a black background with a plate of candles on her head. Neon does the dance to some Mid-Eastern fusion song that sounds like Enigma meets Enya. Miss Neon does her thang with the candles on her head, and even though she is sweating and moves very cautiously in a skirt that looks too long for the dance she is doing, she succeeds in her routine. It came across flawless, professional and entertaining. Before the video ends, you can see a much relieved Neon gingerly take the candles from her head and mouth the words ďthis is hot!Ē ĎNuf said.

This product available here:Neon BD DVD

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