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Gilded Serpent presents...
Jillina Redoux
Bellydance with Jillina DVDs
by Yasmela

 WOW!  4 DVDS of Jillina!  Apparently I have mellowed out since my last review of her work and Jillina has definitely matured.  Once again, these DVDs are top of the line in production quality.  Each DVD has two performance segments at the end. These performance segments are the only aspects of this new collection I can fault. 

Damn!  This is our chance to see it all put together and there is Jillina in great costumes, lovely smile, impeccable technique, and we can’t see her!  Who was this cameraperson?

At what non-dance friendly school did he/she learn their craft?  Fred Astaire had it right.  When you film a dance, the ENTIRE dancer should be in the frame at all times.  I can think of few things as frustrating, especially on an instructional DVD, than settling back to focus on the culmination of all the hard work of learning a dance and watching close-ups of the dancer’s face, feet, and audience. And it was filmed in the dark!  GOD help me, please!  The time to see her feet is when she is teaching the step.  And while her face is lovely, she is dancing, not selling toothpaste!  The artsy-angled shots do nothing for me.  These performances either show her as a tiny indistinguishable dot on a large dark stage, or up close, first head and then feet.  Please, I will not be bored if you just follow her ENTIRE BODY with the camera.  What a disappointment to an otherwise perfectly wonderful DVDs.  Jillina….fire that person!

Entrance Choreography
The teaching technique employed in her previous DVDS has been improved in these new offerings. Jillina appears in the beginning chapter to explain a little about the dancer’s entrance, why it is important and some guidelines for making it dramatic and memorable. There follows the new format…warm up, technique, combinations, choreography, cool down and two short performances.  Technique teaches the steps used in this choreography and then has a short section of practice time.  Combinations take a couple of steps, put them together and then adds musical practice time.  The choreography section takes these combinations and places them into a choreography.  As with her last DVDs, she builds your knowledge of the choreography by adding a new section at the end of each run through, each time starting from the beginning of the song.

Drum Solo Choreography
Following the same format set up in the Entrance Choreography, Jillina appears briefly in the opening chapter to explain the drum solo and offer the viewer some suggestions and options for using and changing the choreography to suit the personality of the dancer. 

This is a great drum solo and Jillina’s maturity shows in the way she expertly breaks it down as only someone with years of experience in both performance and choreography can. She also includes tips about posture and positioning…not included in her older instructional DVDs.

Excellent!  While this choreography is appropriate for intermediate to advanced dancers, almost anyone with an interest and some experience can benefit from the warm up, technique and choreographic sections.  What do I especially loved in this particular volume?  Break down and practice of the belly flutter.  This is an old and long neglected part of basic belly dance and has been a long time gone.  It was nice to see someone give detailed explanations of how to practice this and what it should look like.  Here is a cautionary tale….star dancers with strong personalities have signatures moves that are easily recognizable.  Be careful of this as well as doing a move that an accomplished dancer executes expertly and is beyond your own level of expertise.   A little self-awareness is always good to cultivate and can save many newer dancers from embarrassment.

Lebanese Pop Choreography
In her opening statement about the song and what it means, Jillina offers her viewers some suggestions about adapting choreography to suit yourself. It would be a shame to see dozens of cookie-cutter Jillina’s dancing around the country, so I think her advice should be heeded. This is a sweet, slower paced love song and offers the dancer a chance to explore some of the movements Jillina teaches in depth.  Once again, the format set up in the first DVD is followed and it works well.  I will say that the full choreography section was another example of frustrating camera work.  They almost had it.  I wanted to see the entire choreography put together and the camera suddenly focused in on her mid section, thus loosing the picture of the dancer as a whole.  It was much more pronounced in this DVD than in the other ones.

Shape Up n’ Hip Out!
I really like this DVD.  It contains 3 18-minute workouts that use Jillina’s core moves and techniques.  “Slow and Smooth” is perfect for beginners and I mean real beginners.  It’s a nicely filmed routine that gently introduces viewers to bellydance moves in an exercise format.  The next two, “Rhythm Hips” and “Turbo Hips”, escalate the action and give a good core workout to dancers at any level.  These workouts are perfect for drilling technique for any level dancer.  There is a warm up section at the beginning and a cool down at the end.  The disc also includes five live performances at the end as a bonus.  I appreciate its straightforward approach and high production quality.  No muss, no fuss, no politics.  It is a nice addition to a dancers collection and lots of good ideas for warming up a teacher’s class.

On the whole, this is a great set of instructional DVDs.  They are top-notch quality and well worth the price.  Even the minor annoyances of the camera work on the performance sections is very small compared with the wretched production quality of many comparably priced instructional DVDs.  These are definitely top of the line.

With diligence it would be easy to copy these choreographies exactly.  I think that misses the point.  Live instruction is a must for anyone serious about this dance.  I think these DVDs work best for dancers with a little experience under their belts (no pun intended).  They can, with their best intentions, provide some spark and vitality to a dancer who might be stuck in the same old routine.  I too hope dancers use these DVDs as a starting point for learning some very sound technique and from there develop their own style.  The performances by the other dancers on the workout DVD certainly contain Jillina’s recognizable stamp.  There is only ever one “star” that does her or his style the best.  I don’t really enjoy seeing Jillina clones, but they were very competent dancers and will no doubt evolve in the future. Without attending one of Jillina’s workshops in person, these DVDs are the next best thing.  Her charming personality comes across well on film and her expertise and professionalism make her one of the most sought after and admired dancers and instructors of our modern era.  Let’s face it; she’s got it all.  Not every wonderful dancer has the ability to teach what she knows, and Jillina is certainly is one of the best in all areas.

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