"The Veil with Hilary Thacker",
"Arabic Jazz Fusion with Galit Mersand", and
"Ballet for Bellydancers with Brianna"
DVD review by Elianae Stone
posted January 12, 2014
This grouping of DVDs was enjoyable to review, as it dealt with many things that I personally enjoy and find graceful and useful, such as veil work, and Western dance technique, such as Ballet and Jazz.
The Veil With Hilary Thacker
I was pleasantly surprised by this offering by Hilary Thacker, The Veil. Having seen several of her other Instructional and performance videos, I was expecting a more homespun production quality.
This DVD surpassed my expectations.
It started out with a visually appealing main menu, with neat live video boxes to click on each skill of study. There was no warm-up. The entire video was shot outside on a rooftop in Turkey and the sunny atmosphere, combined with Hilary’s traditional Cabaret costuming and props such as an Oriental rug, oud, and derbake made for a friendly, Oriental flavor. It was obvious to me that a lot of care had gone into the production, though it was a bit disconcerting how Hilary overdubbed her voice over the lessons, while her mouth was moving in the frames as well, and didn’t always match up. This being said, however, I could see how much effort was taken to make sure the sound quality was better than in previous videos.
The music was traditional Egyptian Bellydance music, which I found soothing, and the skills taught had creative names, such as “Bullfights”, the “Magic Sandwich” and the “Egyptian Postbox”. In the end, she performs in front of a traditional Turkish building, and even has footage of her students in Edinburough performing. Although I would not consider this dvd challenging for an advanced student, I think it captures the feel of traditional Cabaret Bellydance and could introduce students to some creative veil work and a beautiful culture. I liked it.
Rating: 4 Zills
Arabic Jazz Fusion- Technique and Choreography with Galit Mersand
Galit Mersand’s DVD was very well put-together, and accessible. There was a Main Menu, with technique and drilling divided into separate sections. Dancers were introduced to basic jazz technique, such as step-ball-change and kick-ball change, as well as pivot turns, and Jazzy arm stylizations.
The Jazz technique was simple to follow, yet when combined with bellydance combos made for a fun, definite stylization. One bonus that I thought was very nice about this dvd was that it came with notes to refer to about the choreography.
The choreography was then performed to a sassy song by Balkan Beat Box. Throughout, the song, instruction, and production quality were consistant. It was interesting that Galit chose to perform the choreography in costume in the middle of the DVD menu, after teaching technique and before teaching the choreography, instead of at the end like many DVDs do. However, when watching from start to finish, it makes sense to inspire the dancer with the finished product before they start learning it. The drills are supplemented by fun, funky fusion music, as well. This is a great DVD for the beginner/intermediate dancer who wants to add fun stylizations to their repertoire or dabble in Jazz dance without being intimidated. It has a Jazz flair while still being accessible to everyone.
Rating: 3 Zills
Ballet For Bellydancers with Brianna
Ballet for Bellydancers with Brianna is a Cheeky Girls Productions DVD, and like many DVDs from that company I have reviewed and viewed, it has a very high production quality. The DVD opens with a standard menu, and a viewer can jump to different skills.
The technique is ballet modified to be more suited to Oriental Dance, and Brianna is a patient, graceful Instructor.
I found the warmup a bit slow-moving, as I did the opening plie and releve segments. However, I have studied ballet in the past and perhaps had a better grasp of posture and beginning technique. As the DVD progressed, however, through chasses, pas de bouree, arabesques, and combinations, I found it more challenging. My favorite part of the DVD was how once a combination was learned, there was a separate drilling section for constant repetition. By the end, a lot of useful technique and traveling moves for the Oriental dancer were available. Brianna used great form to demonstrate how the movements should look, and spent a lot of time on port de bras, or graceful arms, which are a must to the Oriental dancer’s technique. I would recommend this DVD highly to a dancer who is new to ballet, or a more experienced dancer wishing to brush up on technique. Both will find something to work on, and be inspired by the lovely studio Brianna teaches in, and the costumed performance at the end.
Rating: 4 Zills
Veil technique has long been considered part of the classical belly dancer’s repertoire, and in recent years many cabaret dancers have found taking classes in other dance disciplines, such as jazz or ballet, to be invaluable in improving technique and offering variety in the dance. DVDs like the ones above help give a dancer interesting combinations and technique in the disciplines they’re designed for. It is great that so many valuable study and practice DVDs are available to the modern dancer.
Arabic Jazz Fusion
Ready for more?
- 11-16-11 "
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.
In conclusion, and personally being a purist with a lot of my Bellydance music, I like Hossam Ramzy’s “Best of the Best”; in my opinion, it’s hard to improve on that collection. However, I would recommend giving all of these albums a try, as they are all high-quality music. If you are a World-music fan, and love music that jams with a bit of rock thrown in, you’ll like “Rock the Tabla”!
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. Both had their strong points, but in my opinion, were fraught with significant problems also.
- 5-16-12 Gypsy Flair Romani Party! 2 DVDs with Fun and Energy in Mind! Ansuya’s Istanbul Nights and Liz Strong’s Turkish Roman Dance
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.
- 4-4-12 Fire and Ice, Sugar and Spice! Mystic Moves With Ava Fleming and Hip-Notic Bellydance With Kaya
I have had the pleasure of reviewing two very good DVDs: Mystic Moves with Ava Fleming and Hip-Notic Bellydance with Kaya. Both dancers adhere to different styles of Cabaret or Oriental Bellydance, and I found their approaches both engaging and refreshing!
- 12-19-11 Learning to Dance the U.K. Way, Hillary’s "Beginners’ Egyptian Dance" and Charlotte’s "Learn to Bellydance"
Strange names for movements used in the U.K. such as “snaky arms”, and the most repeated “wobbly walk” and “wobbly movement” in describing shimmies, as well as “quiver in your bellybutton” are off-putting.
- 1-13-10 Galit Mersand Teaches the Shisha Dance
This is a unique dvd for the performer who wants to widen her horizons.
- 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.
When did Ballet become a requisite for Belly dance, and why is it stated that it should be an essential part of a Belly dancer’s daily regimen?
- 1-9-14 From Evolution to Revolution, A Review of "Dark Side of the Crown"
Jillina’s character is mean and abusive which makes us think that she may be the killer!
- Deep Study of Dance with Culture for 20 Hours! Yasmina Ramzy’s Crash Course, August 2013
Check your ego at the door and be prepared to learn true Egyptian technique and correct what you’ve been doing incorrectly for years.
- Egypt through a Rear-View Mirror, Middle East Journal: A Woman’s Journey into the Heart of the Arab World by Laila Abou-Saif
It is easy to recommend this book with a four-zill rating and I do. I applaud ground truth data–here, in the form of interviews–diligently gathered by someone qualified to interpret it.
- Thoughtful Technique in a Beautiful Package, Jo Wise’s "The JWAAD Book of Belly Dance"
Fortunately, this beautiful book can be opened at any time, to any page, for any length of time you can spare, and it will offer you concise instruction, illustrative photos, inclusive models, creative costuming, witty sayings, insightful technique and imaginative choreographic notes!
- 6-27-13 Tradition, Passion, and Fusion, “Ro-He, Classical Egyptian Dance” 2003, and “Egyptian Rai” 2006 by Hossam Ramzy
In this review I am critiquing two CD’s by Hossam Ramzy. I write in detail about each CD, it’s interesting parts, or special interests as well as critique. I then compare the two at the conclusion of this article. Enjoy…the incredible talents of Hossam Ramzy!