DVD Reviewed by Two
Lock and Shimmy! Belly Dance with Michelle
Yasmin and John Clow
with Introduction by Shira
As of October 2008, there are two controversies surrounding
the video described in these reviews, as follows:
September 2008, Michelle Joyce received word that another
company (International Academy of Middle
Eastern Dance, IAMED) was preparing to release a video of its own with
a very similar title, Pops, Locks & Shimmies,
featuring instruction by Kaya and Sadie. This has
caused much debate
in the online community over the question of whether
a video producer should release a new video using
a title that already exists in the market. Readers
to bear in mind when reading reviews and buying
videos that two entirely different videos exist
with very similar
names, and take care to ensure they pay attention
to which one they're currently thinking about.
in September 2008, Michelle Joyce's Pop, Lock, & Shimmy
mysteriously began appearing as an upload to many file-sharing
sites. In fact, these are beginning to clog the results
of Google searches on the video's title, overpowering listings
for legitimate sites that sell the DVD. Michelle has attempted
to seek removal of her video from these infringing sites,
but these web sites make it difficult to file such requests.
As of October 13, 2008, the first two pages of results
when doing a Google search on the title reveal 8 such file-sharing
by John Clow
instructional DVD, produced by Michelle Joyce,
is correctly billed
as ‘Drum solo Technique & Choreography
for intermediate and advanced belly dancers’.
And over 95 minutes, and 11 drills and
combinations, Michelle delivers that . . . and
more! As a
studio-quality DVD, it serves as a guide to crisp
and layered shimmies. She also designed “Pop’
and Shimmy!” to increase the dancer’s stamina,
and get the movements into her ‘muscle memory’.
After a brief introduction, Michelle, with style
and her bubbly personality, leads you into warm-ups
and stretches, beginning her instruction with a
Then come the combinations: 7
in all, with explanations of pops and locks,
and demonstrated in two speeds. Try medium to fast
to get your heart pumping! Next are her shimmy
drills---meticulously explained---with variations
and level changes. To refresh the viewer, Michelle
supplies an index of these combinations, executing
them with both flair and precision. If that isn’t
enough, Michelle strings these moves into a dynamic,
fast-paced drum solo choreography for you.
philosophy is simple: “Practice is the key
to sharp & intricate hip movements, drilling
them until they become second nature. . . .”
this in a non-stop practice session, which is
followed by a cool down.
Completing the DVD are 2 performance
by Michelle, taken from the ’Dancers for Dancers
Certainly an asset for intermediate to advanced level
dancers, this product will NOT be a ‘one-and-done’
for you. It is so enjoyable and professionally
made, you’ll wear it out long before you grow tired
For more information, visit Michelle’s site at: www.cheekygirlsproductions.com
It has been over a year since Michelle Joyce released her
now famous Pop, Lock and Shimmy DVD.
Its success has spawned a number of other instructional
DVDs, and many sequels
by Michelle, notably Drills, Drills, Drills. Perhaps it
is a little late to review a product that is already in
the Belly Dance Hall of Fame. Mea culpa, I was asked to
review this DVD last March; but after investigating the
belly dance instructional market, I chose to write To
Buy or Not to Buy – A Guide to Mass Market Belly Dance
the current titling issues of Pop, Lock and Shimmy and
IAMED’s upcoming Kaya and Sadie release
however, I decided to pull out my notes and give the
original drill DVD its due.
Amazon and the numerous belly
dance chat forums describe its content, I will not
waste time enumerating chapter outlines, etc. that are
Full disclosure – I have worked as an Egyptian cabaret
dancer for over 30 years, mostly overseas, and am a professional
film distributor. My glasses are tinted when it comes to
how I view belly dance product.
Michelle is to be applauded for finding a niche market
and being the first to take advantage of it. She rightfully
discerned that today’s belly dancer is willing to forgo
some production value if they enjoyed the content, teaching
style and cost of their purchase. As most fans have mentioned,
Michelle’s $17.99 price (Amazon’s retail) is very reasonable
compared to IAMED’s average $39.95 per DVD. Michelle recognized
a desire for drills and filled it. As a working dancer
and teacher, she knew what and how others wanted to learn
and her pleasant on-camera presence and thoughtful script
cinched the deal.
I do have a few issues with the product, however, even
though I know Michelle has garnered many fans through this
DVD. I readily admit the quantity and diversity of her
product line proves she is in touch with the pulse of today’s
belly dance student and is willing to work hard to please
them. She deserves her audience’s admiration.
There are three things that bother me about this product
(I know it was one of her first releases, so I am cutting
her slack on the production side of things) – a few of
her basic techniques, the lack of published credentials
and the costume.
costume issue is simple; I couldn’t see her knees and
ankles. As a teacher, those are the first
things I correct when giving technique. Do the knees
move, are the feet turned in, are the ankles pretty?
legs are very important and I couldn’t see half of hers
because of the bell-bottom pants. But this was a minor
More important to me was the lack of printed “credentials,”
for want of a better word. What style was she teaching?
How long had she been dancing? Was she working full-time?
Did she have live band experience, and if so, was it extensive?
Who were her teachers?
of this information was available, either on the
sleeve, in the DVD or on her web site. Perhaps
she has added this information since. At the time, I
couldn’t tell whether she had been dancing three
years or thirteen
by looking at the packaging. Granted the monetary risk
factor at $18.00 is much less than at $40.00, but there
is another risk that is far more costly – learning poor
Michelle correctly states that to dance well, the muscles
need to commit to memory the movements they will be expected
to repeat. It doesn’t matter how inexpensive a video is,
if a student learns bad habits, it is time and money wasted.
From the beginning, Michelle emphasizes that posture is
important and that the back should be straight. This is
absolutely true. But when you watch her in the mirror,
her back is arched. A curved spine changes the way hip
bumps are executed.
Other major technique problems I had might have been solved
with a label - such as “Suhaila Technique” or “American
Cabaret Style” or “Vintage Orientale.” Each style of dance
has its own movements, which are not necessarily done by
other styles, or if they are, they may be done very differently.
For example, Michelle taught one shimmy, a freeze, which
was impossible to see if you covered the screen where her
belt was. You knew she was vibrating only because you saw
her fringe sway. Cover it and her torso hardly moved at
all. In a large restaurant or theater this would be invisible
to the audience. In Egyptian style, tightening the thigh
and buttocks muscles certainly produces frozen flesh, and
I did not see it done when I worked overseas. Yet freezes
are widely taught in the United States and have been since
As an instructor, I would prefer to know which technique
is on a DVD before recommending it or not to my students.
As a student, I would want to know which style I was learning.
Obviously, once you watch the DVD, you know - if you have
experience with the various styles. But what if you didn’t?
What if you didn’t want to learn AmCab? Unlearning muscle
memory is much harder than learning something the first
Overall, Michelle’s maverick product deserves its place
among the Belly Dance Top 40 if your style is American
Cabaret or any form of Tribal.
of her content builds a solid foundation for the format,
including her choreography,
which highlights continuous beat accentuation, a cornerstone
of Western musical interpretation. But I would not recommend
this DVD for those interested in Egyptian style. Traditionally
in the Middle East, not every beat is hit. Filler is
used far more than accents. Different strokes for different
folks. But no matter the style, I feel the consumer should
be informed before they buy which technique is being
and the instructor’s qualifications to teach it. Simply
mentioning how many countries the instructor has traveled
to or the competitions she has won is not enough. But
I went over all that in the first article. For someone
is their own producer, editor, graphic artist and distributor,
Michelle has done a wonderful job.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
Wa Sahlan 2008, Not So Welcoming this Year by Yasmin,
have gone up everywhere, and Egypt is no exception. The reality
hit me as soon as I walked into the Mena House. Bottled water
was $4.00, where out in the street the same bottle was $.50.
A bottle of beer was $10.00. Internet connection was $30.00 /
hour. At those prices, life's little pleasures didn't seem important
Belly Dancing in the 1970's: An interview with
Azur Aja by John Clow
Aja (Sharon Wright), a belly dancer from the Nashville Tennessee
endearingly known as ‘The Lady With The Veils’. Her career has spanned
over thirty-five years, and her style has been influenced by some of the most
recognizable names in American belly dance history.
to Charge What You Are Worth by Michelle Joyce
step to becoming an effective negotiator is to emotionally detach
yourself from the outcome. If you can’t walk away from the
deal, you have already lost.
Buy or Not to Buy –A Guide to Mass Market Belly
Dance Instructional DVDs by Yasmin
producers ask or hire others to write glowing reviews. You will
often see the same people reviewing a producer’s entire line
of product. Those are suspect. Look for the one-off comments. They
will give a better overview, along with anything less than 5 stars.
in Turkey 2006 by Michelle Joyce, photos by Michael
I am not exaggerating when I say that Sandra actually
threw herself into Bella's arms and wept when she first laid
eyes on her.
Belly Dancing 1966: B.C. (Before Choreography) Schehera
of Ohio Interviewed by John Clow
censors didn’t want me to show my stomach because you couldn’t
reveal the navel on television back then. Keeping the veil on was
kind of hard to do, dancing with a snake.
- Deeper than the Moves by Keti Sharif
dancer who feels “safe”in the rhythm, footwork, technical
movement feels grounded and secure as she dances. A grounded dancer
will be less "in her head”and allow the authenticity of
feeling to come through her body as a flowing, emotive movement that
expresses the music and how she “feels”the music.
feel the music when you're on stage!”Interview
with Ozgen, Male Turkish Belly Dancer, by Nini Baseema
I think my heart still beats for big shows and productions, as
much as I know how stressful and difficult that show-life can be.
I seem to not be able to live without it.
and the Bellydancer by Taaj
then, I wondered, why are so many belly dancers jealous, unhappy,
competitive and insecure? Does belly dance really build self-esteem?
Beach Memories- Casbah Cabaret, Part I Circa 1973 by
performed what I have dubbed “conveyer belt dancing”,
that is three dancers doing three shows each, starting promptly
at 8:30 p.m. without stopping until 2:00 a.m., whether we had an
audience or not.