Gilded Serpent presents...

2 Balancing & Sword DVDs Reviewed

Sword DVDs

Bellydance and Balance: The Art of Sword and Shamadan by Princess Farhana DVD
& Sword and Tray Balancing for Bellydancers with Cory Zamora & Laura Sutherland

by Martha Duran
posted July 17, 2009

princess Farhana's Sword DVDBellydance and Balance: The Art of Sword and Shamadan by Princess Farhana DVD

Princess Farhana presents her DVD version of her instructional video, The Art of Sword and Shamadan, released more than 6 years ago.  Gilded Serpent reviewed the VHS format version, which appears to be the exact video but now on DVD.  The video provides clear instruction on a beginner level on dancing with the sword.

This DVD has comprehensive instruction on balancing for a beginner level bellydancer. Al though it is not suited for someone who is brand new to Bellydance, as it does not provide full instruction on dance technique. The DVD does include a warm-up stretch section, a selection of different dance steps that can be used, balancing props, and a useful section of tips and tricks on selecting your props.  Some of Princess Farhana’s experiences on performing with shamadans are shared by her in a relaxed setting. It’s like having a private class and sitting down for a one-on-one instruction in her living room. This 48 minute instructional DVD includes a quick run through routine that includes all the basic balancing postures.

This DVD includes excellent performances at the beginning and at the end. Princess Farhana opens with a entertaining sword performance and ends the DVD with one of the best performances I have ever seen on Shamadan.

It’s a shame that this DVD wasn’t a remastered version. A little editing here and there, sound improvement, and some additional performance footage of Princess Farhana would have made it worth buying again. It is one of the best instruction DVDs for performing with props out there.

Purchase information: Artist’s website

Zil Rating: 4 stars
rating-4 zils

Cory's Sword DVDSword and Tray Balancing for Bellydancers with Cory Zamora and Laura Sutherland

Several high quality performances are documented in this DVD, with some valuable instructional segments but with low quality editing, dubbing, and some poor focusing of the camera.  Almost every performance is recorded on a consumer level handy cam. The performances are held at a Renaissance faire with the main focus on the performers but sometimes the camera wonders off and focuses either on a person just watching or a distracting focus on a hand or cleavage. 

The instruction segments are filmed back in the studio in a very small space, which, by the way, is so cramped that when Laura Sutherland is performing a candle piece she almost burns the backdrop curtain.

 In spite of all the negatives of the amateur production, this DVD contains great live footage that could be revived with a little sound editing.  That and a little more organization in the technique and tips with separate chapter segments would make this DVD one of the best of its kind. Learning from Cory Zamora is like dancing besides her. She generously shares details of her dancing experiences including solutions to mistakes made.

Laura Sutherland also instructs candle dancing and sword balancing on this DVD.  She even shows some great tricks that add a little more than just plain and simple placing of the sword.  They cover 3 levels: isolated balancing, air movements and floor work.  Instructors in the “instructional archive of footage¨ describe every movement and the different ways certain body types execute them.  Very detailed information on how to purchase your trays and swords are given out by Cory & Laura frequently along the 60 minute DVD.

Balance points, transition movements, and popping movements are some of the great demonstrations given by these highly flexible and skilled floorwork performer bellydancers. Even with all the negatives in this DVD its content is high quality.

Purchase information: Artist’s website

Zil Rating: 1 star
rating- 1 zil

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