Gilded Serpent presents...

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

Enchanting Bellydance Choreography by Sandra

Captivating Bellydance Choreography With Amar Gamal

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DVD reviews by Martha Duran
posted December 15, 2012

Fairies are enchanting magical beings that many mortals would like to have the gift of seeing, and while I haven’t seen any fairies personally, I felt that I was one of the luckiest of mortals recently when I had the opportunity to become enchanted by two new DVDs from skilled, talented, and perhaps enchanting, dancers. These two dancers seem to have captured the attention of all who need help with choreographic and performance skills.

Sandra DVD cover

Enchanting Bellydance Choreography by Sandra

The term “enchanting” is defined as capturing interest as if by a spell; on this DVD, produced by Hollywood Music, Sandra presents choreography to the musical arrangement “Yasmina” played by the famed Al-Ahram Orchestra. The production will capture audience’s eyes, and yes, it will enchant them. It is an Egyptian-style choreography that Sandra teaches, step-by-step, in 8 combinations.

The choreography is fitting for beginner-intermediate dancers who have knowledge of the fundamentals of Oriental dance. In my opinion, it is a useful choreography to learn and to keep in one’s repertoire as a backup for last-minute performance engagements.

First, Sandra gives a verbal introduction to her DVD; then, she goes over some veil technique without previous warm-ups or stretching. She also shares some useful tips regarding how to keep the veil off the floor and away from one’s face. Some of the veil moves included are: the “over toss”, “full over-toss” (both clockwise then counterclockwise) and the “waterfall”. Sandra proceeds directly into combination number one of the choreography and then repeats it. Next, she reviews it from the top and repeats it a second time – after adding in the music. This is a convenient format because it lets the viewer learn the choreography after dancing along with this DVD several times.

“Bedouin Princess” is the name of the next veil movement that she teaches; again, she runs over combination number 2, and after teaching it, she goes over it with music, then puts together combinations 1 and 2.

Sandra gives some interesting tricks and tips for maintaining balance in steps like the “Pivot Turn”. She teaches the “¾ Shimmy-to-the-Side” (including some muscle contractions) for combination number 3. After dancing along with her, performing combination one through three, she teaches you how to do a “Hair Toss” that you will use in this combination (and later on, other combinations as well). She emphasizes making well-balanced turns and also shares some techniques she learned from her jazz dancing teacher to maintain balance, stay centered while turning, and land with better control. She adds these steps to combination number 4, reviewing all of the choreographed steps from the top.

“Chest Circles” are taught, being done on the downbeats. Learning motions of the hip with basic foot work is also part of the technique that is needed for combination number 5; she also used some intricate footwork that she had not taught in the technique section for this combination. It was the Grapevine Step, done in medium tempo, which can be difficult for absolute beginners to follow. After practicing combinations 1 through 5 all together, I noticed that Sandra does some changes in choreography, altering it a bit by adding some flair and flourishes that are fitting to a higher level of expertise that comes quite naturally to a more experienced Bellydancer.

Combinations 6, 7, and 8 are described directly without technique being taught specifically for these sections. Some “Hair Tosses” (done while on floor-level) are used in combination 6. However, it is not easy to get up or down to floor level, using the specific steps that Sandra teaches for combination 6.

Combination number 7 repeats many of the movements already learned, with quick direction changes added. In combination 8 (the last combination you’ll learn) some big movements and lots of footwork gives you the option of several different poses for the end of the choreography.

I thought that the lighting and production of this DVD and the selection of music was more than satisfactory. You learn the steps along with song with which you’re going to dance; so, it makes it easy to understand and assimilate the musical content of the song with the repeated run-throughs of the choreography.

Sandra performs the whole choreography in a striking blue costume and later gives a bonus performance to “Batwanes Beek” by Setrak Sarkissian.

Rating: 4 zils
Zil Rating- 4
produced by Hollywood Music
and available here

 

Amar DVD cover

Captivating Bellydance Choreography With Amar Gamal

If we look up the definition of the word “captivating”, the dictionary would state: “to attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence”. This is definitely an attractive DVD by the sought-after performer and worldwide instructor Amar Gamal. Its graceful and elegant classical Egyptian styled choreography is taught by the beautiful Amar, displaying her well-known charm and excellence while she teaches 13 brief combinations.

Amar starts off this DVD by giving a brief verbal introduction and by demonstrating her choreography.

She begins with a relaxing yet invigorating stretch, warming up your body during the first section. Then, she repeats it, reviewing posture and alignment. This is a brief section in which she discusses proper placement of feet and legs, demonstrating 6 basic arm positions in classical Egyptian dance. By the time this section is over, I have cooled down; so, I need to warm up and stretch just a little more.

I disagree with the order of the segments; I would have preferred to address first “Placement and Alignment”, and second, the “Warm-up Stretch” section, followed by “Technique and Combinations”.

However, for some reason, you warm-up first, then stand still for some minutes, posing and aligning yourself before going over some classical Egyptian style dance steps, learning the 13 different combinations to give form to a complete choreography. By the third time I viewed this DVD, I skipped the placement and body alignment part to prevent my cooling down.

Amar Gamal emphasizes arm placement and footwork on the technique segment, teaching steps like: “Front and Back Grapevines”, “Circles and Walks”, “Hip Twist with Piston Hips” and Arabesques. She is clear in how the step should be executed, movement-by-movement. For example, in the “Hip Twist with Piston Hips”, she teaches you first how to “Hip Twist”, then how to do “Piston Hips”, gradually putting them both together.

Combinations 1 through 5 are simple and easy to follow, and you can learn them from the first time you dance along with this DVD. The format is simple: first you learn step-by-step the combinations; then, after each combination is complete, you have the opportunity to run over it with music. After that, you connect it with the rest of the combinations of this classical Egyptian piece and go over it with music.

“Traveling”, “Backing-up Saidi Step”, “Back-Grapevine” with the “Hip Twist”, Front-Grapevine with “Shoulder-Shimmies” are steps used in the first 5 sections. I noticed that on combinations 6, 7, and 12, the combinations are named by the most prominent “Stepping Shimmies” with layers of “Scissor Steps” and “Hip Slides”. Dr. Samy Farag’s song, “Wa Marret El Ayam”, is used for the performance.

This DVD is well-produced and edited; it features a variety of background songs that are played while the you are learning the combination segments. Lighting and camera angles are perfect, capturing each of Amar’s movements, and Amar Gamal is always mesmerizing–both on and off stage.

Rating: 4 zils
Zil Rating- 4
Produced by Hollywood music
and available here

I feel I must conclude by noting that both DVDs are made to improve your performance and dancing skills in some way, although it is still your job to give your performance a smile and gesture to enchant and captivate your audience with your unique stage personality.

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