Back in November I did the entire BellyDance Fitness For Beginner's 4 pack by Veena and Neena Bidasha and I intended to write a review, but what with the holidays, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah, it didn't happen. Well, it's still not happening. BUT, I offer a small consolation prize. This evening I did the Fat Burning tape from the original 4-pack and followed it with the new Slim Down tape.
The original Fat Burning tape is rated by Collage as basic/intermediate intensity, mixed impact and basic choreography and I would agree. It's very repetitious--you spend most of your time doing rocking horse moves with hops thrown in, side to side hops, and bouncing knee bends. It's fairly high impact, especially considering you wear no shoes to cushion the hops. They don't break down the moves but there aren't many and they do them so many times that even the choreo-challenged should be able to catch on. They also don't offer much in the way of form pointers which bothers me, because although the moves are simple, a simple move executed incorrectly can still result in injury. All the bouncing and hopping really works (possibly overworks) your calves and ankles. This is not an instructional tape--you won't really learn how to belly dance, but it might be a nice change of pace or intro for someone who is looking for something besides traditional step or hi/lo.
If you took the Fat Burning tape, put more make-up on the sisters, dressed up the set a little more, threw in some (but not nearly enough) form pointers, and added slightly more traditional belly dance moves (shoulder shimmies, chest locks, hip locks, etc..)interspersed with the step touches (creatively called "genie bounces" here), rocking horses, and mambos, and removed most of the hops, then you'd have Slim Down. It has ONE LONG SONG that runs all the way through it so the music is pretty monotonous.
I did them one after the other and got a moderate cardio workout, and doing just one tape would be good for a beginner or someone who wanted a lighter intensity day.
If you liked Fat Burning, then you'd probably like Slim Down. If you sort of wanted to like Fat Burning but found it too repetitive, Slim Down might work for you. If you hated Fat Burning, then don't bother with Slim Down. The slight upgrades in choreography and production values probably won't be enough.
There are sevral reviews of these videos at collagevideo.com, most of which are overwhelming enthusiastic. I however, have not been thrilled with these videos. I am reviewing them together because basically they are the same video. I found the set quite pleasant and the camera work was fine, even if it did focus a lot on the twins' breasts, stomaches and hips. It did feel a bit porno-ish, but I think maybe since these are marketed as bellydance videos, the camera folks thought they should focus on these key body parts of bellydancing.
I think these videos don't really know what audience they want to appeal to. In Fat Burning, you jump around a gazillion times with your finger on your head. After 30 bounces, I stopped counting. No advanced exerciser will be motivated to try such a boring sequence, and many beginners can't jump around with no break for such an extended period. There's no variety in arm movement or positions. Many of the bounces are followed up with twisting motions that could be torturous on the knees, and THERE IS NO INSTRUCTION. In my impression, there wasn't much bellydancing either. Just a lot of hopping around.
Sim down is slightly better, largely because there is more variety. There is still NO INSTRUCTION and some twisting moves. There is less bouncing, but all moves are put together by reverting to genie bounces (a side to side step). Theres no variety of arm motions again, but there are some hip moves that make this feel more like a belly dance tape. Most distracting, both videos are lead entirely by voice-over, and the twins' have the exact same expressions throughout the whole thing. Overall, I do Slim Down on occassion, and I've given Fat Burning away (along with the other videos that came with it).
While the sisters seem charismatic in their introductions, this doesn't come through in the voice over. Personally, I find that a whole workout in voice-over feels very uninviting, less like a class and more like a lecture.
These videos are too repetitive and basic to be of much interest to an advanced exercisers and too repetitive and intense for a beginner. I'm not sure what group they're best for, but I know I was disappointed in the purchase.
I think, when spending $20.00 on a DVD, You should at least expect the exercises to run at least a half hour. I had to replay the DVD. Just to feel a burn!! And I am a Beginner. Too short, they say 2 full workouts, maybe if you replay it a couple of times.
It was fun and different but really way too short!
I have been taking Middle Eastern dance and belly dance for 2 years now, and study cabaret and American Tribal Style (which are very different) as well as learning some Middle Eastern folk dancing.
I have read the other reviews, and feel that I have to add some comments to the reviews about this video. There are a lot of reviews out there complaining that the Bellydance Fitness for Beginners videos/dvd's do not teach you to bellydance. The twins have two sets of videos out there-the Fitness for Beginners series-of which this is one, and the Discover Bellydance series. The Fitness series are not designed to teach you to be a belly dancer-they are designed to be a short workout with belly dance moves incorporated into it. If you want more of a belly dance class and learn some basic choreography-then you need to be looking at the Discover Bellydance series of tapes-which teach that, and even some veil work in the last video. The Discover Bellydance series is a class setting however, and you will not be getting the aerobic benefits of the fitness tapes. Basically, it is your choice-do you want to learn to dance, or do you want more of a workout that is a little different than what you are used to?
The Fat Burning workout does have a lot of hopping and jumping-and a lot of people have complained that it isn't "bellydance". What it is, actually, is moves that are used traditionally in Middle Eastern folk dancing, and will actually be seen in a lot of belly dance shows when dancers are using canes and such as props. Bellydancers are associated mostly with slow belly moves and twirling around with a veil...but we do a lot of other things too! (smiles)
This may be a little hard on the ankles and calves until you get used to it...and it is repititious, but this tape is a good cardio workout. I personally like the voiceover in the series, and it is used quite a bit in dance instruction styled videos, simply because when someone is talking you tend to focus on their face, and not on their body. You need to be concentrating on what the feet, knees, hips, arms, and shoulders are doing in dance instruction.
I thought the background was lovely, but the music could have been improved. What was used was the equivalent of Middle Eastern elevator music...
The twins were dressed appropriately and executed the moves nicely. One of the former Veena and Neena reviews actually said the thought the video looked "porno-ish"? What??!!! I do not agree. They do focus on certain body parts at times, but it is the body part you are being instructed on...so what do you expect?
Bellydance was never intended to be considered seductive and performed for men-it was a traditional dance by women performed for other women at family events, during the birthing of a child to promote an easier labor, and during religious events. America has made this something seductive and come hither...I hold firm that it is a beauiful dance designed to bring women together. I have bonded with the fellow women that I dance with in a wonderful way...and like it has been said about the dance troupe Fat Chance Belly Dance, we dance for EACH OTHER first, and the audience second. This dance is a sacred tradition that has surpassed generations, and I am glad to be a part of it, and that Veena and Neena are trying to share that gift with the rest of us.
First, I consider myself an intermediate exerciser, and a moderately capable dancer. My background includes ballet, tap, modern, flamenco and middle eastern. What I expected from these videos was a workout that used bellydance in a cardio workout. I didn't expect to learn a routine, to learn dance moves or how to bellydance. having said that, I was still disappointed in the tapes, especially fat burning. i wanted to like them, the production quality is high, with a nice set, and although the music is repetitive, it had a good beat and didn't bother me. Plus, the twins are really stunning, with attractive bodies that, though toned, and fairly thin, are not unattainable. However, i found the fairly disengaged voice over uninspiring and the routines boring and monotonous. In fat Burning, the workout is essentially all jumping from foot to foot. While these steps are used in bellydance and in middle eastern folk dances, they are also fairly generic cardio steps. The arm motions consist of holding arms out to the side or sticking your finger on your head. Its not creative, its not interesting. Its weird because the intensity, with its non-stop jumping is quite high, but the basic choreography is more suited for beginners. Its hard to imagine a beginner having the capacity for this tape and an advanced wanting to do the same step for almost half an hour. Slim Down is somewhat better. It has lower impact, more steps, some bellydance moves and more arm movements (though those movements are repeated over and over...) Though there are more moves in Slim Down, it is still repetitive since those moves are repeated and you go back to the genie bounce (a side to side step)after each. It is more accessible to beginners, but advanced exercisers will still probably find it too repetitive to hold their attention after a few run throughs.
In both of these videos, there are some questionable camera angles. Another reviewer said porno-ish, and while I think that is probably to strong, I would agree that they are inappropriate. In isn't that chest, torso or tight hip shots wouldn't be helpful in learning bellydance- they would be- if we were learning bellydance. But as other reviewers have pointed out (and I would agree), we aren't learning bellydance in these tapes, so the focus on these body parts when the workout focus is on footwork seems a bit questionable. Neither of the workouts are porno-ish, to use the reviewer's word, or even sexual. these are workouts you could feel comfortable doing in front of kids. Bellydance parties are usually family events, or great get togethers for women. So while the workouts are not at all sexy, sleazy, the camera angles are somewhat T&A oriented at times, and in this type of workout, those angles don't make sense.
As I said, i didn't expect to learn bellydance, but I did think these workouts would use bellydance to create a cardio workout. fat Burning is a cardio workout but the folkdance steps are generic and repetitive. It hardly feels like bellydance (or even folkdance for that matter). Slim Down uses a few bellydance steps, and it is cardio. It too is repetitive, and the bulk of the steps are pretty generic too, despite the few bellydance moves that are used.
Most bothersome is the total lack of instruction in either. There is no attention to form or safety, and with the jumping, bouncing and twisting moves, there should be some instruction on form and safety. these moves could be dangerous if done incorrectly.
While bellydance is a great dance and workout for women, uplifting, empowering, inspiring, there is none of those qualities in these workouts. they have repetitive, dull choreography, and a fairly detached voice over narration that seems fairly disengaged with the workout and the audience. Slim Down is somewhat more enjoyable, but for the money, most exercisers would be better off looking up their states on www.shira.net and checking out an instructor for a live bellydance class in their areas. Classes almost always provide some exercise value and you can really up the ante in your home practice to get a decent workout as you prepare your moves for class.
It's hard, I think, to comment on voice over instruction. I really don't care for voice over at all. having said that, I think the tone and demeanor of the voice is fine, and the cueing is okay- not stellar, but not bad either. The larger problem is that there is no attention to form or instruction whatsoever in either of these workouts. The twins smile their way through these workouts, and seem pleasant enough.