“Cool Combos ‘a La Galit” and “Combin-Ography by Bahaia"
DVDs reviewed by Elianae
posted November 16, 2011
When I was asked to review two DVDs for the Gilded Serpent, I was excited. It was especially fun since both CDs that GS chose for me to review were by artists I knew very little about, from different parts of the globe. I was not disappointed, and the variance between the two was intriguing!
The first DVD I reviewed was “Cool Combos ‘A La Galit–The Art Of Layering”, a homemade labor of love brought to the public by a British Oriental dancer and instructor, Galit Mersand. I would consider the material presented to be best suited for intermediate Cabaret or Egyptian style Belly dancers.
There is a lot of instructional material covered throughout–over 15 combinations presented, as well as 4 drill segments and dance practice sessions. There is a lot of hip work, such as figure 8s in every direction, “Chonking” (a cute name to describe hip-drops) and Belly rolls. The technique culminates into a full dance practice segment, –a loose choreography set to a song titled “Hassibak” by Jad Nakhle.
Unfortunately, although there is plenty of useful material in this DVD, its production quality is sub-par.
Although the main menu is well done and chapters are easy to navigate, the actual video is grainy and the sound fluctuates quite a bit. Galit, with the exception of the final dance session, only teaches from the front view, leaving the viewer to mirror her or figure out rights and lefts on her own. Galit also teaches the movements with no musical accompaniment, adding instead live drumming in the drilling sections. Although live music is wonderful, the echo inside the studio as well as the lack of proper sound equipment made it a bit noisy, and I found myself turning my volume button up to hear her speak, and down when the music came on.
The bonus features are very entertaining however and include two live performances as well as two live dance comedy performances! You just have to see them to see Galit’s special spark.
This DVD would be a great companion to any student of Galit’s or a dancer who doesn’t care for frills in video production but would like a fun, easy dance piece that looks presentable. Any dancer might benefit from drilling these important moves.
Rating: 2 zills
My second DVD to review was “Combin-Ography With Bahaia!” by Cheeky Girls Productions. It is an attractive DVD, in both cover and design, that promises to “bridge the gap between improvisation and choreography”. Upon viewing the DVD, I do believe it accomplishes that, though in a more informal, friendly way than I expected. I found the title somewhat misleading because there are no technical combinations presented in this production.
Instead, Bahaia challenges the viewer to see the dance from different angles, taking in concepts such as pacing yourself, knowing your power moves, thinking about body line, spacial awareness, and presentation.
Bahaia herself is engaging, friendly, and concise in her wording and expression.
I found this DVD to be a refreshing change of pace from most fitness or technique-inspired DVDs. So many dancers work hard to mimic technique, combinations, and choreography, while Bahaia’s approach is more spatial and personal.
She challenges the viewer to make lists of all the moves in their repertoire and arrange them in ways that accentuate the music, flow easily, and highlight what each dancer does best. I found Bahaia’s graceful style and cheerful smile encouraging.
This is not a fitness video, but an exercise in becoming familiar with the creative process. The film is shot with the instructor facing the front throughout; however, I did not find this to be a problem. My favorite part of the instruction was when Bahaia said a dancer should not approach the stage “Like a crazy excited Cocker-Spaniel!” Humorous visual images such as this make this a video to which I would return.
Rating: 4 zils
Through the process of comparing and contrasting these two DVDs, I learned that in our technical age, although there are many people out there that have knowledge that can and should be shared, production value really does count for something. With a few technical additions, a DVD can be more attractive, accessible, and quite frankly, sell better, but here’s a tip of my hat to the both of these artists for taking on and completing such a big project!
Ready for more?
- 5-9-09 3 Instructional DVDs for Beginners: Wide Range in Quality: A Course in Belly Dance by Galit Mersand, Aziza’s Ultimate Practice Companion, 1-2-3- Belly Dance with Bahaia
I am going to review 3 videos that are mainly for beginners or practice. They are from 3 vastly different dancers who each have unique styles.
- 12-4-09 Drum Solos: 3 Masterful Approaches, 1-2-3 Drum Solo with Bahaia, Arabic Rhythms and Combinations with Tamra-henna, Dynamic Drum Solo: Technique & Choreography with Sadie
Overall, if I were an advanced beginner through advanced intermediate student with only enough money for one of these videos, I’d purchase Arabic Rhythms and Combination with Tamra-henna.
- 5-31-11 NEW VIDEO UPDATE-7-8-11
An experimental travel blog. Let see how it goes! The plan is to update this page frequently. VIDEO with GALIT
- 10-27-11 Why I Went to Camp This Summer, A Report of Bahaia’s 2010 Camparet (Bahaia’s event)
Before much time had elapsed, I found myself dancing while bound mid thigh with a hot pink velvet stretchy band and a drinking straw inserted between my teeth. Crazy? Yeah, like a small red fox.
This caused me wonder: she states she improvises 99.9% of the time she performs, but how does she improvise her work while she performs on stage (if she likes it, she memorizes it?) and teaches it later in her workshops?
- 10-11-11 And Here’s a Work from…the Lovely Jenna DVD: "Bellydance, The Next Level"
When I’ve gone to Jenna’s classes, I noticed she had a knack for making the students comfortable with themselves while learning new steps. This persona still comes across on DVD.
Reviewers of Cory’s other DVDs have often complained that the quality of filming and lighting were not good. I didn’t find this to be a problem with Learn Belly Dancing. Although it’s not a slick production, you can see and hear everything you need to perfectly well. Cory has a clear, pleasant manner of speaking that is easy on the ear.
- 5-27-11 Listening with the Arabs, ASWAT’s February 2011 Concert
The concert consolidated a much needed expression of hope, excitement, and pride. I felt lucky to be in the audience, to share solidarity, and to be exposed to songs novel to me.
- 4-29-11 A True Arabic Experience, November 2010 Arab Dance Seminar in New York City
His seminar emphasizes the cultural roots and context of this dance form; it is a form that is experiencing a disconnect as more dancers are entering the community through fusion and often not developing an understanding of its historical origins. Each seminar is themed to focus on a variety of elements within the culture, dance, and music of the Arab world.
- 4-17-11 Global Glances, Homage to Mahmoud Reda: A Life for Dancing, Full-Tilt Boogie presents: Belly – Sensual, Scarred, Sacred
As Unmata’s Amy Sigil observes, the dance is taking place in a kind of self-supportive bubble to which the general public is really irrelevant.
- 4-4-2011 Beginnings Made Easy: Basics, Improv, First Shows!
Cassandra, Tanna Valentine, and Nadira Jamal. While all three are classified as "basic" level videos, one is geared to the absolute beginner, another to the newer dancer ready to perform, and the third to the performer who is ready to graduate from choreography to improvisation; a dancer should take care to choose the correct one for her current developmental stage.