Suzanna del Vecchio
This 1993 video is intended to be a practice tape for bellydancers (and I've yet to hear a bad thing said about it by a dancer), but I think it could be a good tape for anyone interested in doing something a little "different" fitness-wise. As in yoga, you do this barefoot, and do wear comfy clothes. Some of the turns may be difficult on carpet (in the video she is on a hardwood floor).
The tape is a total of 90 minutes long. The first 60 minutes are composed of step-by-step breakdowns of the dance isolations and combinations, such as figure 8's, hip lifts, rib circles, snake arms, and different traveling moves. Suzanna demonstrates the moves, and describes them in voiceover. Anyone who has never done bellydance (and all first-time users of this tape, IMO) should master this section before going on to the 30 minute continuous workout at the end. Doing this 60 minute section can be quite a workout in itself!
The 30 minute workout begins with a brief yoga warmup (salutation to the sun on right and left sides). Suzanna suggests doing it several more times before going on to the rest of the workout. Personally, I would have preferred she just lead us through several more reps because I hate to pause or rewind during workouts, and therefore never end up doing more than the first set.
During the workout Suzanna is no longer speaking in voiceover, but to the camera directly. She is the lone person on the set. Her cuing is very good. She mirrors your moves, so when she says "go to your right" she goes to her left. The workout section is set to various middleastern-style music pieces that may sound strange to the naive listener but are very well-suited to the moves. She takes brief pauses between sections for a deep breath and a change of music. "Regular" exercisers will recognize some of the steps and three-point turns. There is not as much traveling as in standard aerobics, but do not underestimate the cardio demands of a sustained shimmy and how much work it is to keep your arms up and posed!
The workout finishes on the floor with negligible stretching.
I generally fastforward to the 30 minute workout and begin from there, but people who are still learning the moves or want a longer workout could include the first 60 minute section.
NOTE: This tape is not available through standard vendors. It costs about $45US and can be obtained through various bellydance suppliers, such as Audrena's International Bazaar, 1-800-327-3406. (Standard disclaimers apply.)
Instructor comments: Suzanna has danced, instructed, and done yoga for 20-plus years. She is a superb dancer and a very good instructor. She breaks down and cues moves well. I wanna be just like her when I grow up.
A brief ammendment--There is negligible stretching.