Bellydance: Level One
Review by Eugenia
by Temple of Jehan 2003
very first screen one can see this is a high quality production:
the two disc set of Sacred Bellydance: Level One begins with
a visual introduction to bellydance through clips of Jehan
dancing in various costumes, with different props, in diverse
followed by a “body prayer” performed by a number of women
in similar garb. While this segment is graceful and calming,
I found it at the same time somewhat creepy, perhaps due
to the haunting background music and repeating vocals.
once Jehan appears and starts bringing viewers through a
very thorough stretch routine which includes even pointing
and stretching the feet, Sacred Bellydance proves to be a
wonderful beginner/intermediate lesson, sometimes even including
helpful visual aids to explain certain movements (such as
superimposing a large number “8” on the screen to help viewers
better understand how an undulation works.)
DVD is perhaps best for instructors or a student who has
taken a beginner class/workshop or two. An absolute beginner
may have trouble following along with the different movements
and isolations such as snake arms, head slides, undulations,
then breaks down the movements, but soon moves on to combining
and layering these steps with other movements and traveling,
such as combining upper body movements with lower body movements,
chest lifts and drops with turns, and combining shimmies
with traveling. Some of the combinations and layering require
not just some skill and coordination, but also stamina, such
as when Jehan speeds up the shoulder shimmy and invites viewers
to continuously keep a shoulder shimmy going while doing
rib circles and various traveling steps.
same time that Jehan moves quickly from the introduction
of a movement to various combinations that show how the movement
can be used, the combinations that she teaches are extremely
useful for teachers and students who wish to improvise to
music or put together their own choreographies in the future.
easy to learn a shoulder shimmy by itself, or a hip drop
by itself, but to learn them in a context of how they can
be added as colorful accents to rib circles and traveling
steps is truly the most valuable way to add them to one’s
makes the learning process joyous through wonderful background
traditional instrumental music, her soothing voice, the smile
on her face, and her explanations and reminders given during
demonstrations. She says that chest lifts and drops are
“a salutation that invite people into your heart, into the
rhythm,” and also says that the hip drop kick shows that
you’re “down with the rhythm” and are inviting people to
and interesting segment is “fluidity exercises” which seem
extremely useful for individuals who want to practice being
“graceful” and who need ideas for some nice poses for photoshoots! She
talks about expanding the body into the space, which is a
good way of teaching beginner dancers to be graceful without
just telling them to be more graceful.
segments of Sacred Bellydance: Level One include an introduction
to the veil, which teaches viewers some simple movements
such as head slides, temple arms and traveling steps that
are complimented by a veil, and also an introduction to finger
cymbals. Jehan teaches a great first lesson with a finger
cymbal that includes doubles, triples, and the baladi rhythm. Students
who don’t already have a veil and finger cymbals will probably
have to do some research online to find out how to select
these props, but once they have purchased them, they should
be able to follow along with Jehan’s introductory lesson
it may not replace a live class or workshop with a teacher,
Sacred Bellydance: Level One with Jehan definitely provides
a great series of lessons that one can practice along with
again and again.
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other possible viewpoints!
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