Gilded Serpent presents... |
Classic Cabaret Floor Work with Anaheed
Video reviewed by Yasmela/ Shelley Muzzy
Floor Work is an area of the dance that seems to have gone out of favor unless you are doing “old style” American belly dance, or Turkish Rom or some of the fusion and experimental styles of dance popularized in the last few years. It is, however, a traditional part of Middle Eastern dance and can be very beautiful and entertaining if it is done well.
The video begins with a short performance of a floor routine by Anaheed. There are no surprises here. The floor work is as the title states, classic. Anaheed goes through a series of movements around the floor including descent, backbends, arm work, stomach rolls and hip work. Her routine is unremarkable but contains all of the basic elements of a classic floor work passage. As the video cuts to a close-up of Anaheed in practice clothes, she discusses the history of floor work, giving several alternative theories and some good conjecture as to why it has fallen out of favor. I found her explanations clear and intelligent as well as interesting. She emphasizes the special complex nature of the physical agility and strength required for performing floor work with particular attention to safety issues for the back and knees. The format of the video is set out and then Anaheed begins with exercises designed to build strength. These exercises are specifically geared to ready the student for floor work. The demonstrations are simple, clear and easy to understand.
After the exercise portion Anaheed breaks the floor routine into parts, beginning with descents to the floor. She continues with turns, arms and backbends and finally ascents back to a standing position. I especially liked her idea of using pillows to help build confidence when practicing backbends. I found some of her suggestions for arm work a little busy and there was less emphasis on emotional connection with the music than I would have liked. It is important to remember that while floor work can be looked on as a gimmick, like cane, candelabra or sword, it still needs to follow the rules of good dancing. In other words, don’t forget the music! I was impressed with Anaheed’s interpretation and explanation of a Turkish Drop, one of the more spectacular movements performed to get a dancer down onto the floor.
While you obviously can’t learn to dance from a video, this is really an excellent introduction to floor work. Anaheed ends the video with a complete dance routine that includes a floor work section. While I was not particularly impressed by her dancing, the routine does demonstrate the context in which floor work is performed and she is accomplished, if not thrilling. If you take this video as an outline and not as the “only way” to perform floor work, it is an excellent starting point. Anaheed gives us the basics including exercises, technique and ideas for alternative movement, and manages to impart some good information on the “don’ts” of floorwork in a tasteful and subtle manner.
If you are at the stage of your dance where you want to explore floor work, Classic Cabaret Floor Work with Anaheed is for you. I still strongly encourage you to find a good teacher because nothing can replace live instruction. Some of the subtle movements that Anaheed left out can best be taught one on one in a live setting. Try to see other dancers who perform floor work so that you can compare and contrast. And then use this video as a starting point. Bad floor work can be vulgar and embarrassing and Anaheed’s tasteful presentation does a good job of setting beginning dancers on the right path. While I found Anaheed’s performance rather bland and lacking some of the creative qualities I have seen in other dancers’ floor work, she is a very good instructor. I was surprised to see that she taught floor work in stretch velour tights/pants and on a rug. The rug is fine but for ease of movement I would recommend something less friction inductive. Nitpicking aside, don’t let the performance or pants detract from the fact that this is a very good instructional video well worth both your time and money.
8-14-03 "What is Belly Dance?" The First Presentation in the New Symposium Series, by World Arts West A report and review by Sadira There has been much controversy surrounding the particular groups and soloists who have been chosen to represent the Middle Eastern Dance category in the Ethnic Dance series throughout its entire 25 years of production.
Photos of Suhaila Solo at Lesher Center for
the Arts California, August 2, 2003 by Susie