Ansuya’s Istanbul Nights & Liz Strong’s Turkish Roman Dance
DVD Reviews by Elianae
posted May 16, 2012
I reviewed two very pleasant, fun DVDs, Istanbul Nights by Ansuya, and Turkish Roman Dance with Elizabeth Strong. Both DVDs have much to offer, and are surprisingly different from each other in their interpretation of Romani Dance and teaching styles.
Istanbul Nights, Gypsy Fusion Bellydance Choreography With Ansuya
Istanbul Nights, published by Hollywood Music Center, is a choreography technique DVD. Ansuya has a fun, lively style, and describes the choreography as classic cabaret technique with a “Turkish feeling”, and “gypsy flair”.
This is not a historically accurate foray in to Romani Turkish Dance, but a fun American Cabaret Choreography that runs in a standard dance class format.
Ansuya’s DVD is divided into nine combination sections, with a warm-up, cool-down, drilling sections and an optional zill tutorial. The combos are then strung together into a fun, modern choreography to a song , Istanbul Nights, off of a recent CD, Bodyshock, Bellydance in the Mix. The sound quality was great, and the set was colorful. Ansuya kept the pace brisk and flowing, and had several costume changes and two performances at the end. The technique was simple enough for the advanced beginner, and the finished routine was energetic, crowd-pleasing and full of juicy shimmies and spins!
Rating: 4 zils
Turkish Roman Dance with Elizabeth Strong
The second DVD I reviewed was Turkish Roman Dance with Elizabeth Strong, an instructional DVD and CD combo set, produced by the author. The DVD was extremely well-packaged, and had an elegant design and terrific sound.
Ms. Strong took a much more folkloric and historically accurate viewpoint on Romani dance than Ansuya’s Instanbul nights, emphasizing improvisation, loose physical presence and going with the flow dancing.
She emphasizes true Romani Dancing to be social, mostly unstructured and untrained, with a sense of fun and family, and done in the home or at parties when the mood strikes the dancer. She follows up this ideal with clips of young Turkish women dancing in their living rooms, and Elizabeth even did a live improv with a drummer while wearing jeans, emphasizing Romani dance’s casual, fun nature. She does teach, however, traditional hand gestures and hip movements indigionous to the style. The music CD was full of elegant traditional instrumental music that I found evoked images of gypsies in caravans, and was very pleasing to the ear.
Rating: 4 zils
It is hard to compare one DVD with the other, as I found them both to be structured completely differently and serving different purposes. The Ansuya DVD was definitely geared towards quickly learning a routine, and flowed in such a way that a dancer could pop it in and work for an hour and a half and have a fun routine to perform. It was not truly Turkish at all, though neither did Ansuya claim it to be. I loved the fast pace, the physical exercise, and learning a fun cabaret gypsy number at the end. Elizabeth Strong’s view was geared more towards true Turkish Romani technique, and slower paced. It is not one good to pop in for 30 minutes or so to get a workout and learn a few moves. It is a DVD that the serious beginning student of Romani dance would take bit by bit and refer to often to get better at the technique and feel of this style of dance. Personally, I would probably pick up the Ansuya DVD first, learn the fun dance and enjoy myself immensely, then give the DVD to the next person. Elizabeth’s I would keep for longer and refer to it when studying Romani technique or teaching. Both are worth buying, however, and loads of fun!
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