Gilded Serpent presents...

Knowledge and Skills for Becoming an Excellent Performer

Sadie’s Complete Bellydancing Guide

Secrets of the Stage Vol. 1 With Michelle Joyce

Saidie and Michelle's DVDs

DVD Reviews by Martha Duran
posted August 14, 2009

Sadie's BD guideSadie’s Complete Bellydancing Guide

This DVD is 130 minutes long, and if you dance with the whole DVD, your hips and thighs will get a complete workout.  For a Bellydance professional like Sadie, the stage set seems like a small, cluttered space, but the DVD contains an excellent selection of music!  With very clear movements, Sadie instructs, step-by-step, all the way through the DVD—from an excellent stretch and warm-up through the mechanics of almost every single dance step in a Grade 1 Bellydance class.  

Sadie’s calm and patient personality projected on this DVD makes it very useful and perfect for staying grounded on basic elementary technique. She patiently runs through the step and she keeps the knowledge flowing.  What takes it a little beyond dance basics is the DVD’s pace. 

Steps are drilled repeatedly, and then, onto the next step—so it never feels too slow, making it a practice DVD for intermediate level dancers. As well, it is an instructional guide for beginner Bellydancers or those who have never had a technique class.

This is a video in which you are instructed how to move your body parts. Inch-by-inch, on every dance move, Sadie emphasizes muscle articulation. The video only includes a glimpse of stylization in Bellydance that I think should be one of the main courses for a beginner in order to establish solid foundations.

Sadie teaches from torso to hip movements and traveling steps but does not focus much on hand and arm placement.  

This DVD includes almost all the fundamentals for a beginning level Bellydancer, but it lacks rhythm identifications for dancers. The music that is used throughout this DVD is excellent, and for an intermediate level student, it would be easy to understand. However, Sadie does not name what rhythm she’s dancing (that detail would be necessary for a beginning student), it’s also missing an introduction for the new Bellydancer on the many styles of Bellydance that are danced regionally throughout the Middle East.

One of the dance techniques that differs from other teachers or instructional materials is that Sadie explains and does “the figure 8”, directing the hip in a way that makes it even more visible to an audience: muscle control is emphasized, which makes you achieve body awareness while executing the Figure Eight Hip in her method. Making clear and simple movements is something you achieve while perfecting the little choreography with Sadie’s perfect style of instruction. 

What I liked best about her instruction on this DVD is that she teaches every step on the right and left sides of the body—almost no video instructor takes time to do that.

Sadie’s Complete Bellydancing guide DVD (when compared with other instructional DVDs in the market) is almost a complete guide to Bellydance within a professionally recorded and graphically lovely package.

This video is available through Hollywood Music .

Zil Rating: 4 stars
Zil Rating:4 Stars

Michelle's Secrets DVDSecrets of the Stage Volume I with Michelle Joyce

This DVD is outstanding for problem solving, performer experiences, and stage elements.

Michelle Joyce starts with a brief introduction of the principals of stage presence and etiquette for a dancer to follow when she’s preparing to perform.

Bellydancers who are in her video By Dancers for Dancers DVDs (whom we have seen perform either on a stage in a competition or a gala) share personal experiences—bad ones and good ones—on this DVD.  There are several live performances in which they each had a problem, a task they had to solve on stage and still achieve a perfect performance. Some of these performance were done while filming one of their By Dancers for Dancers (Cheeky Girls Productions DVDs) in front of a live audience.

Bellydancers Adriana to ZaheeaShoshanna, and Michelle Joyce talk on a voice-over about the different tasks they have had to perform on stage and their different solutions to unexpected situations. For example: how to make your performance flawless when you’re feeling your skirt is sliding down your hips!

Common anxiety attacks that almost every dancer experiences before getting on stage are discussed, as is the big overdoing-of-your-choreography mistake that many dancers tend to do on their first year as a performer. In an effort to show how they can be the best dancer, they end up choreographing too many movements in a single combination, resulting in overly busy dances. These segments on overdoing a performance on stage are narrated by Nanna, and Sandra.

This DVD has a great chapter on choosing your music and Zaheea
shares significant knowledge, accentuating the difference between floating and heavy music.

Sandra shares advice on how to make a different choreography on a popular song. She shows how to translate an Arabic song, how to read the music, and advises staying away from a song that is considered too popular (so that many dancers end up dancing the same song on the same show). However, her advice on what to do won’t teach you the whole process when sharing a stage with other dancers when you’re in a festival or a competition.

There is a satisfying follow-along exercise section on this DVD during which the viewer can meditate along with Michelle’s voice (which is very relaxing); these meditation exercises can be done before performing, only seconds away from hitting the stage.

The DVD’s graphics, music, and stage design are professional quality. In general, it’s an advice DVD, which feels like one is having a chat with the dancer/instructors on Facebook and asking them for some free advice. (And—you  get to see the performances from By Dancers for Dancers DVD!)

This video is available through Cheeky Girls Productions

Zil Rating: 3 stars
Zil Rating: 3 Stars

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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?

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    Those were tough times for us teachers. Students were very shy in the classroom but eager to learn; some of them even thought that Shakira had created Bellydance! They didn’t have much information about Oriental Dance, its origins, or different styles. Some aspiring dancers even sat through several classes just to check out what Bellydance was or if we teachers danced it as well as Shakira.
  • Training Aids or Trainer’s Ads? 3 Books Reviewed
    The E.D.A. Handbook for Middle Eastern Dance by David of Scandinavia, Tribal Vision by Paulette Rees-Denis,Belly Dance for the Versatile Dancer V. 1: Foundations by Zanbaka
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    The first 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.
  • Adventures in Turkey 2006
    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. 
  • The Photos of Saroya Ahlaam,
    …she was a replacement at Rakkasah for a no-show and did a great job! I was so impressed with the crystals on her costume. You could see them sparkle from the back of the auditorium. Sadie pictured.
  • Michael’s Photos of the Belly Dancer of the Year2009 Award Winners, photos by Michael Baxter
    Some photos are linked to larger images. Additional troupe member names wanted!
  • SharQui and Injury
    I suffered a severe injury to my spine and sacroiliac joint that left me in constant agonizing pain, and worse, fully disabled. I was 23.
  • Words of Wisdom: Interview with Hadias
    Unfortunately, this hyper-saturation, along with the current international economic crisis, has led to a self-initiated devaluation of both dancers and teachers, as they compete for contracts and students in an extremely competitive market.
  • The Ghawazi: Back From the Brink of Extinction (For now)
    The really fabulous news is that Khairiyya’s sister Raja has come out of retirement and is dancing again.

   |       |    8 Comments

  1. No Gravatar
    TigerB

    Aug 17, 2009 - 08:08:48

    I’m a little confused by these reviews. What about the Sadie video merited the “four zills” while the Michelle Joyce video rated three? What was missing, poorly explained, or less well produced on the second video? I would like it if the zill ratings were a little better explained. Otherwise I enjoy reading the GS video reviews.

  2. No Gravatar
    Martha Duran

    Sep 4, 2009 - 10:09:28

    Sadies video is very good and Michelle is good too but still lacks some information its only a voice over interview over performances nice editing the format still needs some work

  3. No Gravatar
    Dina Kassam

    Sep 8, 2009 - 01:09:08

    I believe these reviews are misclassified, or rather one of them.
    Sadie’s has NOTHING to do with performing, but is a regular absolute beginner to advanced beginner’s class.
    An excellent video, one of my 3 favorite beginner dvds.

    But it is kind of misleading for both videos to compare them with each other.
    Secrets of the Stage is a series for (aspiring) performers and professionals with NO technique whatsoever involved, but showcase/stage issues discussed and enlightened.
    The series is the only contribution to bellydance performing, learning about it and improving it to my knowledge.

    Technique instruction is in a completely different league. Maybe Michelle Joyce’s Drills Drills Drills or Bellydance Crash Course should have been compared with Sadie’s Complete Bellydance?
    The way it is presented Sadie’s is grossly misrepresented as something it is not (about performing), and the two in general have as little to do with each other as fish and meat..

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