Gilded Serpent presents...

“Habibi, You are My What?..”

Leyla's Arabic DVD

DVD- Essential Arabic for Dancers, Vol 1

reviewed by Bonita
posted October 9, 2009

I was thoroughly charmed by this low-key Arabic lesson for dancers, produced on a shoestring budget. Leyla is adorable in her presentation, with an earthy sense of a humor. She is a truly intelligent, self-professed "language geek" as well! Leyla has the rare gift for interpreting complex layers and levels of cultural meaning to her western students.

The DVD presents basic core vocabulary found in Arabic Bellydance music. Leyla begins with a short coverage of the Arabic alphabet, including the pronunciation of Arabic "quirky" letters that are so very difficult for English speakers who are learning Arabic. She discusses the gist meaning of three popular songs, using repetitive chorus phrases to demonstrate word meaning. These songs are Zey Al Hawa, Habibi Ya Eini, and Habibi Ya Nour Al Ayn. These are standard songs that beginning professionals can always request with the expectation that a band will know them. In fact, Habibi Ya Eini is a great song for training beginners in the basic Arabic style. The Sultans’ version presented on the DVD is one of my favorite pieces to use in teaching beginners how to play zills (with its breaks and mostly slow and steady beats).

However, I have never had such insight into the words as this DVD taught me! Now, thanks to Leyla, I have an added dimension to teach my students. The credits list where to find these exact recordings and Leyla also provides web sites for finding Arabic song translations.

Interspersed within the lesson are gestures one can use with many words and phrases prevalent in the typical Arabic Bellydance repertoire of live bands and classic songs. Leyla also provides the bonus of cultural explanations and some quite useful and handy phrases at the end of the DVD such as: "You should be ashamed of yourself!” "Get lost!" "Hands off!" or "Don’t touch the Bellydancer!"

As a currently struggling student, enrolled in an Intermediate Arabic language course (that is way over my head), I was fascinated by this DVD. I knew perhaps 80% of the words already, but I had not heard previously many of the cultural tips and insights. Leyla’s eyes are simply sparkling with mischief, and to borrow one lyrical, enchanting phrase from the DVD, her eyes "light up the night." Her playful interpretation of the words, phrases and meaning will bring dancers to another level in their interpretation of the music for Arabic audiences.

The DVD might have been more helpful if she had included some notes such as provided to her in-studio class. Additionally, if you are overly enamored with the slick, institutional, and perfect “Barbie Doll-type” of DVD, this presentation is not for you! However, if you are a beginner through professional level dancer who wants to learn more about the truly rich, dreamy beauty of the Arabic language as it is used in song, this DVD provides a perfect place to start.

3 zil rating
Rating: Three Zills

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  1. Leyla Lanty

    Oct 9, 2009 - 02:10:39

    The class notes mentioned on the DVD are available online.
    Just go to the Extras chapter, screen number 3 where you will  find the link to the class notes on a hidden web page.  NOTE – One MUST type the complete link as shown on the screen into the “go to” box near the top center of the browser window.  DO NOT type it in the “search” box at the upper right of the browser window.  Search engines will not find it.   I put them online in the hidden web page both to keep production costs low and because the notes are for the use of owners of the DVD or those who attend a live workshop.

  2. Amina Goodyear

    Oct 21, 2009 - 04:10:56

    Your DVD is great. It’s informative and fun. A great introduction to Arabic. You’re so funny.

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