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2 Instructional DVDs: Unprofessional or Homespun?

“The Basics With Outi” & “Step-By-Step Bellydance”

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A Review by Elianae
posted February 12, 2013

The two DVDs that I received for review and comparison for Gilded Serpent were by a group and individual with whom I was unfamiliar. In fact, I had never heard of either one. The first one was “The Basics with Outi”. Outi is a dancer from Finland who currently resides in Cairo, Egypt. The second was “Step-By-Step Bellydance” by Hips, Inc. from the UK. Both had their strong points, but  in my opinion, were fraught with significant problems also.

Outi DVD

“The Basics With Outi”

Surprisingly, this DVD was produced by Michelle Joyce of Cheeky Girls Productions, although this title is not listed under that label. Nevertheless, as such, I expected a high level of professionalism in the recording, and for the most part, I was not disappointed. The main menu was divided into 9 accessible sections, but once I chose the beginning, I had to turn my volume up high to hear Outi talk. The lighting and camera work were acceptable, however, and Outi did a thorough job describing simple, basic movements, such as: Hip Circles, Figure Eights, Camels, Snake Arms, and Tummy Rolls.

I did, however, find her pace to be exceedingly slow and a bit tedious. Sometimes Outi would talk for almost 7 minutes about a movement, with no music, before you would actually practice the movement with her. In fact, I counted 14 m

inutes from the introduction until the first movement practice session. This combined with Outi’s heavy accent, and the poor sound quality, made it a bit boring for me.  Also, I found her loose Egyptian style a bit too untrained for my personal liking and noticed, when doing movements, she constantly rolled her left wrist, and raised her arms, when they were extended to her sides, almost to eye-level.

Nonetheless, one great selling point about this DVD is that dancers are introduced to all the different rhythms that traditionally accompany the movements. The Masmoudi rhythm was demonstrated for Hip Circles, as the Maqsoum was for Figure Eights. Also included in the DVD price that I believe is around $29, was a downloadable CD of all the rhythms used in class. At the end, she teaches a simple choreography that she performed, live, at a restaurant. I found her pronounced lip-synching to the song unnecessarily distracting, but I know that some audiences appreciate a dancer’s knowledge of the song.

If you’re looking for a workout, this is not the DVD for you, but all things considered, for a beginner dancer who has had limited access to outside teachers but still wants a lesson in Egyptian dance and culture, I think this would be a decent DVD.

This product is available for purchase Studio Henna here and Studio Dum Tek here

Rating: 2 zills
Zil Rating- 2

 

Charlotte's DVD

“Step-By-Step Bellydance”

This is a double DVD set by a dance school called Hipsinc. in the UK. This set is divided into combinations for beginners in the first DVD, and more advanced students in the second.

First of all, let me tell you the most upsetting part of this product: this DVD would not play in my Blu-Ray player at all. It claims to be suitable for all regions, but it did not play. This is a thwarting drawback!  However, I did get it to play in my computer. The second major drawback was–once I got it to play in my computer, I had to fast-forward through each of the sections, and could not skip to the next. Annoyingly, each DVD played like a VHS tape, and I had trouble navigating it. The sound quality was fair, though a little spotty, and the production seemed somewhat homespun.

After I got over these irritating major technical problems, however, I quite enjoyed the combinations and technique presented. I found all of the teachers to be knowledgeable, and the combinations to be cute, useful, and satisfying for Western cabaret-style Belly dance. I especially loved the drilling sections, in which they would repeat a combination with you for at least 7 or 8 minutes continuously before moving on to the next one.  They also briefly touched on rhythms, and had an intriguing section of Gothic-Tribal and Street-Tribal fusion dance, in which, although a bit too hip-hop for my taste, the instructor was noticeably skilled. 

At the end, they showed the instructors performing in full costume, and even brought the camera crew out. It was obvious that this homespun DVD was really a labor of love for all those involved. (Oddly, they dedicated the production to Princess Farhana who is still very much alive.) I found it interesting that both DVDs were supported by (or dedicated to) American dancers. I rate this DVD as low as I do only for its obvious technical problems, as those cannot be ignored.

This product is available for purchase from the Hipsinc here.

Rating:  2.5 zils 
2.5 zil rating

Out of the two productions, I preferred the second one, but technical problems cannot be ignored! However, why not be the judge and compare them both for yourself?

Notes & Resources:
  • Author’s bio page
  • Ed note: The "Step by Step" DVD did play on my 2012 Macbook Pro, Sophia’s Asus laptop, and my son’s Xbox. The DVD did not work on our Samsung Blu-Ray DVD player connected to our TV.

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