Reviewed by Rebecca Firestone
I was eager to see
this DVD, being a fire dancer who, like Leslie Rosen,
learned it as a craft from personal experience. It's aimed
at people who've already have bellydance experience, and who
want to use the fire to add to what they already know. The
only disappointment was that the performance footage didn't
show much of what she spoke of in the Technique section, or
even the Photo Gallery, which showed very inspirational images
This DVD is a treasure
chest of ideas.
low-budget, hits all the right fundamentals,
and is just crammed with ideas that can be adapted to all
kinds of dance styles. Leslie Rosen looks like she's done
Flamenco, bellydance, and Indian dance, but that's just a guess.
The intro starts
out with a few vague references to ancient traditions, archetypal
wossnames, gods and goddesses, and gypsy dancers. There's a
nod to various world fire traditions, including the Egyptian
shamadan, and dances of Rajasthan apparently done with pots
of fire on the head. (There's also the Samoan Fire Knife Dance,
which I have on video, and some Indian martial arts that train
with spinning staffs.)
an interesting personal bio, and speaks of her apprenticeship
training. She urges the viewer to seek a local teacher and
a local group to work with, stressing the need for community
and further study. The only thing she doesn't cover is making
the equipment. When I learned, we had to make our own tools.
It was like our trial by fire before the fire. But you know
what? It's OK to purchase tools, too. It saves a lot of time.
The big thing that all fire dancers look at first when evaluating
one another is whether they have good fire safety.
gets an "A" on fire safety. Her safety section is a great
overview, covers just about everything, and has clear visual
of fuel handling, dipping, and shaking out the excess fuel.
Two things I would have added to the safety
- First, I would have
liked demos on handling accidents, not that I've ever had any,
but they do happen; and
I would have talked about the importance of pre-show site
inspection, especially for professional
Leslie covers good
costume notes, both safety and aesthetic. In fact, many of
her notes, especially choreographic notes, would be applicable
well beyond fire. She mixes notes on choreographic and stage
composition with suggestions for archetypes and sources of
inspiration. She explains some of the unique aesthetic properties
of fire: basically, it leaves trails.
Technique section is something I'd call a workbook, almost
juggler's toolbox. It's not "technique" in a ballet sense.
It's more like a huge sketchbook full of movement concepts
and ideas, and it's left to the viewer to add the style.
It's kind of a DIY
approach, which works well here. She tells you to do your own
warm-up first, and to get your heart rate up. She assumes that,
as experienced bellydancers, we all know how to do this and
we don't need to be spoon-fed. Her warm-up stretches are OK;
some of my favorites are in there. The warm-up seems to be
a mishmash of jazz, Hindu temple dancing a la Shahrazade (of
IAMED video fame), and perhaps T'ai Chi.
moves are organized in a very systematic and thorough way.
I didn't like all of it - some of it was a little too busy
- but most of it I did, and the ideas are presented in
a way that lets the viewer apply them in pieces without
I thought, "My god,
she's just giving her game away here, almost for free." I've
been disappointed in some other videos from great dancers which
covered the 1-2-3 basics and nothing more. This was more like
her thought process. But how's she going to teach workshops
on Luscious Layering when she's telling us every secret she
has right from the get-go?
thing I would have added would be a "lit" demo alongside the
studio demos, since things look totally different in the dark
a single, moveable light source.
I didn't agree with purely based on my own experimentation
think that fire dancers have to make a choice between focusing
on the fire
itself, the source of illumination, or
on that which it illuminates - namely the dancers or stage
If the fire itself
is the focus; it should be moving…drawing patterns on the retina
while the dancers are still. If the focus is on that which
the fire illuminates (skin, most likely), essentially you are
using the fire as a mobile and localized light source, an aid.
When both the fire and the dancer are moving, they cancel each
other out because the eye doesn't know where to look. Fire
is already visually distracting because of its irregular flickering
movement. Our eyes are designed to track movement. So if the
dancers are moving, the fire should be still, and vice versa.
Doesn't mean you can't draw swirls with a torch and then hold
the torch still to show off a belly roll.
When I started watching
this DVD, I went straight to the Performance section and as
I said, it was disappointing. It's very hard to film fire,
though, so all of my videos look exactly the same: dim and
washed-out. This was a solo, so none of her great ideas for
group choreographies could be seen in action. The Photo Gallery
had a lot of group shots, including excellent costumes and
poses. It's too bad we couldn't have seen some of the items
in the Photo Gallery as part of the Performance section.
All in all, a recommended
selection, for anyone interested in working with fire, and
even for people who aren't.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
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Politics: State Folk Dance Companies, Representation, and Power
by Anthony Shay
2-07-08 Aruna's "Dancer's
Body" Reviewed DVD review by Rebecca Firestone
of Aruna's claims to fame is being 50 and being tougher than
chicks half her age. And it's true, at least with regard to the
strength training - which was her profession for many years.
Considering that most belly dancers want to be as youthful as
possible, it's a nice change to have someone so athletic who's
still improving with time.
Fusion, Bedouin, What's the Difference? 4 DVDs reviewed
and compared by Rebecca Firestone
When I see a dancer I really like, I want to
*be* her, or him, right at that moment. My heart leaps at the
music and then leaps again when I see what they're doing. With
this one, I was interested, but not that engaged.
reviewed by Two- Pop, Lock and Shimmy! Belly Dance
with Michelle, by Yasmin and John
Clow with Introduction by Shira
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.
Big Picture Book Review: Martha Burns' "Belly
Dance, Celebrating the Sacred Feminine" Reviewed
page is a work of art, a truly astonishing array of images. The
content is very inclusive and features all age ranges, body types
and styles. You will see yourself, your best self, in these pages.
Bellydance: Level One DVD Review by Eugenia
by Temple of Jehan. This is 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.
Peek at Making Music Videos: Hakim, Khalid Selim, Walid
Toufic, Ali el Hagar, Elam, & Samira Said by
was either crying or yelling at Hakim for most of the shoot and
went home each day with a headache from it.
- 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.