First, let me say that I have done the hi/lo section, but never the mat work. Second, let me say I LOVE this workout. It makes me feel happy and coordinated and graceful, not things I always am. In “real life”, I’m a klutz. This is one of the first tapes that made me believe I could do more complex choreography. It's a good bridge between simple/athletic tapes and super complex instructors like Christi and Andre.
Here's the scoop on the basis of my preview of this tape. I'll do a more in-depth review later, but my knee injury is still bothering me enough that I can't do this workout as it's intended. The video is 40 min. of cardio, 20 min. of "matwork." The background exercisers are all professional ballet dancers who, during the intro segment talk about what dance means to them.
The cardio section is similar in flavor to Kari's Great Moves Hi/Lo tapes--lots of fun moves with some dance inspired steps thrown in (attitudes, leaps, twists and turns). It was fun to see how high all these dancers can leap! DanceWorks is different from the Great Moves tapes, though, in that there is a large class and Kari's personality always lights up the room when she's working with a class. Kari also breaks down the moves a little more than she would in a Great Moves choreo tape, which means the intensity winds up being a bit lower as you learn the moves.
The steps by themselves don't necessarily feel that dancy, but when you string them all together the combo seems dancier than you first thought. Still, as far as the "dancy quotient" goes, if you can handle her Great Moves tapes, this one won't throw you. Kari uses her usual style of teaching a combo, then running through the whole routine from the top, with a few run throughs at the end. The cool down looks fun and a little bit funky.
The matwork floor section is very much like Angles, Lines, and Curves--lots of dance-inspired isometric and stabilization exercises with Kari's graceful touch. Some of these moves are very challenging because they require a lot of core strength and a keen sense of balance.
The music is typical aerobic stuff, but well chosen. The first few have a Latin flavor, and I recognized a few familiar tunes, such as the PowerMax "360" combo music.
The set is a well lit studio, with white draperies at the back for the cardio segment, and black mats for the floor work. The clothes are all variations of turquoise, royal blue, and black for the cardio segment, gray and white for the floor work. The unified color scheme was nice, IMHO.
Those are my first impressions--I'll revisit them when I can actually do this routine. This video is a benefit video for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and is supposedly only available for a limited time, so if you're interested, don't wait!
Wendy Niemi Kremer
I love Kari, but I have to say that Danceworks is definitely for low-intermediates. So much marching in place in between combos. The dance moves are beatufiul and graceful and you will feel the fluidity of the workout, but it definitely doesn't get your heartrate up. The cardio is only 27 minutes without the warm-up and cool-down. The music is outstanding, some new and some music from PowerMax and Step & Stones II. The toning section is different for me, a more traditional exerciser who uses Cathe, Cory, Joyce Vedral type of workouts. She does a lot of balancing moves and stabilization. I would say it's more yoga/method type of exercises. Definitely not for me. I borrowed this tape this from a fellow VFer and am grateful to have tried it out before purchasing. I wish Kari would go back to her "Sweat Express" or "Two the Max" intensity workouts. This tape would be recommended as a light day dance workout. Personally, there are too many of them out there now, so I will skip this tape.
Kari is so beautiful in this video. Everything about her is graceful and lithe. A wonderful instructor. I wish she would go back to her higher intensity workouts.
Okay, I agree with Maryann about all that marching in place ... however, I love the choreography on this tape! I had so much fun with this workout that I actually considered rewinding and doing it all over again. The only other tape I have enjoyed this much is Kari's United Steps. Kari is having a great time leading this workout. Her enthusiasm is contagious. The dancers are wonderful as well. Their form is amazing.
On my second day with this tape, I dealt with all that marching in place by either jogging or doing step touch moves instead. My heart rate was definitely in the target zone.
Because Kari broke down these combinations so well, I made it through the entire routine the first time I viewed the tape. This is a big deal as the choreography is complex and dancy -- lots of turns and leaps.
The floor work at the end is both challenging and a nice change of pace. It did not seem that difficult, but my legs were tired the next day! I guess I would call this section a combination of toning and yoga. I definitely think I can grow with this part of the workout; it requires a lot of balance, strength, and flexibility.
In summary, I am really glad that I found this tape. It is a great addition to my collection of typical hi/lo, step, and weights. Kari is great in this video. Her cueing and form are great as always. She just seems so excited about leading this workout!
Collage rates this workout as Inter/Advanced which is probably true, but it is closer to intermediate than advanced. At first it seemed more intermediate to me, but I have found I can get a decent workout from it because I have a lot of room to move. The whole routine could be a low advanced routine, but it definitely slows down in a few places when being taught. There are a few moves in the video I would have found difficult when I was an intermediate, but overall this would be a good video for intermediates.
I enjoy this tape quite a bit, but like Body Tech it is not a perfect tape for me. The cardio section is only 35 minutes with the warmup. When it is over I am left wanting more. Those 35 minutes are fun though. The choreography goes well with the music, some of which I have not heard before on other videos.
The mat-work portion of the tape is similar to ALC, which I traded away knowing I would NEVER take the time to use the tape. From what I remember of AL&C - this is like a mini version of it, which is short enough that I might actually use it on occasion. The stretching at the end of the matwork is nice.
Instructor comments: Kari is absolutely giddy during this workout - a very different personality than in her Great Moves videos when she is alone. It was irritating, but not too much for me to handle. I found her cueing to be very bad actually (another difference from her other tapes). She taught the moves pretty well, but when it came to cueing the combos after we know them, she often just doesn't cue. She spends a lot of time talking to the dancers, who don't say anything back to her. It almost feels like you are intruding, because it seems like she has a lot of inside jokes. She is obviously very excited to be dancing with these ballet dancers, and I am happy for her, but I wish she had toned it down just a bit.
The dancers themselves are actually not that intimidating. You can tell they are dancing when they do arabesques, but their aerobic dancing skill is nothing to write home about. They all look very fit, but not intimidating in that regard either.
I like this video a lot. The first section, which is basically dance-oriented aerobics is a lot of fun. I found the steps easy to pick up (I also have many years of dance training). I would classify this section as intermediate level. The second section consists of some dancer-type balance/movement/stretches/toning which I really liked a lot, but some of them are really tough and require a lot of specialized strength and flexibility that are unique to dancers. This section was reminiscent of Angles, Lines and Curves, which I also like very much. This tape is for you if you love to imagine yourself as a dancer, if you love to feel your body in synch with music (which by the way, is terrific on this tape), and if you love to feel graceful.
Instructor comments: I am a fan of Kari Anderson and have most of her videos. Her style meshes with mine. On this tape, she looks awesome! Her hair is lighter and cut short and layered and it looks terrific, and I couldn't help noticing that it appears that she has had some cosmetic surgery on her eyes, and she looks youthful and bright. There was one negative about this tape and that was Kari's laughing for no apparent reason throughout the aerobic section; it really became annoying. I got the feeling that she was a little nervous or intimidated leading this group of professional dancers. The only other negative was the outfit in section two, which was not flattering to Kari's figure. Since I am mentioning negatives here, some of the dancers have incredibly pale faces and bodies.
Being a person who definitely prefers step to hi-lo, and seeing clips from DanceWorks on a Cathe Friedrich trip and on Collage's website, I wasn't sure if this video would be among my favorites. I love Kari Anderson, but her hi-lo workouts usually leave me wanting just that little extra something (I generally prefer Christi Taylor's hi-lo style). However, I really like this one a lot! I really enjoy the complex, ballet-inspired dancy choreography. I took ballet lessons as a child for 14 years, and corny as it may sound, I really felt like I was home again! The intensity is definitely intermediate, so for an advanced person this video would be good on the day after an all-out cardio session. There are lots of pivots, turns and spins, so if you're on carpet, you'll have to be careful to unload the supporting leg before you turn (or leave out the turn completely, as Kari demonstrates as she is teaching the move). There are some leaps and jumps, but they are fairly easily modified to (almost) low impact if you wish. You also will need a fair amount of space to do this workout, as in all of Kari's hi-lo tapes.
I agree with the reviewers who said that the matwork section is reminiscent of Kari's Angles, Lines & Curves. Many of the moves are similar, but are done in the fuller form during DanceWorks. They are challenging! You will definitely need balance here! This section is dance and Pilates-inspired, which fits in perfectly with the theme of the entire workout. The purpose is to help develop long, lean muscles and flexibility. The only thing negative I have to say about this section is that I wish the focus were on the abs a little more. You will of course use your abs to stabilize yourself during all of the moves, but I would have liked to see a teaser or two included. It is inspiring to watch Kari and the dancers, especially during this section! And as usual, Kari includes a wonderful final stretch. I highly recommend this tape if you're looking for a dancy, moderately intense cardio tape and some core strength and balancing moves. This one's a winner!
Instructor comments: Kari is in her element during this workout. It is obvious that she is really honored to be leading the members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She is so down-to-earth and friendly in this video, as well as in all of her others. Kari breaks down the steps as she is teaching very well (as others have mentioned, there is a bit of marching in place during the teaching phases), but her cueing during some of the combos comes up a little short. I noticed this in Body Tech, too. After a time or two through the video, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Kari just shines during hi-lo! She is beautiful and graceful and a joy to watch. Her form on the exercises (during both the cardio section and the matwork) is impeccable. During the ballet-inspired moves, I just love watching her and the ballet troupe leap and jump!
This is a high/low workout, and Kari is accompanied by members of the
Pacific Northwest Ballet. You can tell that Kari is so excited to have
them with her. At one point she says something like, "I'm living my
dream -- I'm dancing with the Pacific Northwest Ballet!" The aerobics
are fun, and the music is fun, too. There is a wide mixture of music,
but it all flows together. Everything from jazz to classical to
50's-style. It doesn't sound like it would work, but it does, and it's
great. The moves really aren't all that dancy -- the dance comes in as
more of an "attitude" which you can leave out if you want. After the
aerobics, you do some floor toning that is similar to Kari's "Angles,
Lines, and Curves" video. I don't do it each time; I got this for the
aerobics. Grade A.