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Lots and Lots of Combos!

Review of 2 Belly Dance Combinations DVDs:
IAMED’s Ultimate Combos #5 and
Combination Nation #2 by Cheeky Girls

by Tracey Farmer
posted May 24, 2010

With the Belly dance market being saturated with all plethora of instructors, genres, production companies, etc., it’s inevitable that the same type of DVDs will be produced.  As I’ve said before, its difficult to decide which titles to buy unless you are certain you enjoy the dancer/instructor.  Both IAMED and Cheeky Girls have done just that! Most dancers want to learn different combos from famous instructors and most of us are developing our own unique dance style that represents what we have learned.

  • ULIMATE COMBOS #5 by IAMED-This instructional boasts combinations taught by the best: Aradia, Jamileh, Katia, Ava Fleming and Zahra Zuhair.
  • COMBINATION NATION Vol.1 by Cheeky Girls-
    Boasts instructions from Belly dance’s hottest performers: Ahava, Aradia (again!), Bahaia, Lotus Niraja, Princess Farhana, Ruby, Shoshanna, Summer Sahar and Zafira. It’s obvious both contain material from notable and up and coming stars; both have a history of good production quality.  IAMED has 5 of these combo DVDs, and so far, Cheeky Girls has only 2.

Let’s start first with "IAMED’s Ultimate Combos #5".

There are 5 instructors on this one:

  • Ava Fleming teaching Egyptian traveling steps, then eights. 
  • Katia teaches 2 Egyptian Rhumba steps. 
  • Jamileh has three sets, an Egyptian combination, slow Saiidi and then another combination with a veil. 
  • Aradia gives us three Egyptian style combos.
  • The legendary Zahra Zuhair gives us 2 Egyptian style combinations. 

 As you probably have figured out, this instructional focuses on Egyptian style Belly dance. Though this DVD focuses on the same genre of Belly dance, you can see the different styles and techniques of the different dancers , which is how it should be; no dancers should dance alike! This was filmed at a real studio with the ladies looking straight into the camera–although they do change position to give you a view of the choreogrpahy from behind, the side, etc. I haven’t seen the other IAMED combinations DVDs, so I’m not sure if they focus on more American Cabaret or E-gypsy or Fusion.  Since there is no introduction on this DVD, its difficult to say if this was the motive.

 There is no discography included, and though I’m sure most of us have heard the music used, this is a glaring omission and shows lack of respect for the music artists.

  As mentioned before, there was is no formal introduction; instead, we have the usual IAMED introduction and the chapters about IAMED, Belly dance history and "Dancer’s Tips" which is always a useful feature. Though known for their top quality, it just doesn’t feel like the same time and effort was put into this DVD. It appears that Suzy Evans has so many instructional clips and chapters already filmed by so many dancers that she selected clips from these 5 ladies and put together a DVD.  This seems unusual, coming from the "no stone unturned" quality from IAMED.  At the end, we are treated to a stellar performance by Ava Fleming.
Purchase Information: IAMED Store

Combination Nation by Cheeky Girls

features more dancers, more quantity, and what seems like a more complete production.  It includes an introduction explaining that you’ll be learning different combinations from various popular dancers using their own unique style that you can blend with your dance style.

These ladies demonstrate their combinations while facing a mirror, giving you a classroom feeling.  Both this method and IAMED’s method are effective: it’s just a matter of taste.

  The combinations here are a mixture of American Cabaret, Egyptian, and Tribal.  Bahaia and Summer Sahar teach 2 combonations each.  The rest include Shoshanna, Lotus Niraja, Zafira (who was my favorite), Ruby, Aradia, Princess Farhana, and Ahava.  I also liked the way each instructor’s website was flashed across the screen for extra individual publicity for each dancer so that you can familiarize yourself with any who was unknown to you at the time. The performances at the end are from Summer Sahar, Princess Farhana, and Zafira–dances that look like excerpts from the "By Dancers for Dancers" series.   All of the music used is from the "Ya Bahaia" CD except the performance music used for Summer Sahar, "Saiidi Dub/ Tabloa Solo 2" by Drumspyder.

I am giving this DVD a higher rating because it appears to be more complete in production (not so much that there are more dancers). You can have 1 or 2 instructors and receive a multitude of combinations; it’s just that I think that this DVD will satisfy a wider variety of palettes and doesn’t seem like it was rush-produced.
Purchase Information: CheekyGirls Store

DVD Cover
Zil Rating: 2 1/2 zils
Zil Rating

DVD cover
Zil Rating: 3 1/2 zils
Zil Rating



vol 2 not 5!

Ratings:

Instructional Skill:  Both DVD’s contain dancers who are qualified and give clear instruction.
Quality of Production:  Both are of significantly high professional quality.
Level of Instruction:  Intermediate to advanced, demonstrating an understanding of rhythms and Egyptian dance technique.
Ratings: 

  • IAMED’s Ultimate Combinations #5: 2 1/2 zills,
  • Cheeky Girls Productions’ Combination Nation #2 : 3 1/2 zills

 

One more note needs to be said: 
I have noted with Combination Nation along with other DVDs by the Cheeky Girls that they appear to keep the dancer firmly in mind when producing their DVDs.  They appear to be aware that this dance form is supported by dancers of various ages, sizes, and colors.  I have seen this representation in all of their By Dancers for Dancers series. 

Cheeky Girls is marketed for the Belly dance community and seems to appeal to the mass audience with whom they choose to dance in their shows or give instruction. 

I think the Belly dance community appreciates this; we actually get to see dancers with hips, butt (cheeky), a little extra padding, women of color, and older dancers giving stellar, professional performances–and the audience is okay with it.  I hope other productions companies take note of this because Belly dancers are a fast growing, yet still small, community. We should embrace each other–not just try to promote the "next hot thing" and show respect for Middle Eastern culture.

 

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