Culture Shock Hip Hop WorkoutLenon Peachblum, Kim Battista
Year Released: 1999
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance
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Moves at a pace where people at home can learn. They repeat the steps a couple times slow, then build onto the routine. They don't do any work facing away from the camera (which is how a normal dance class would be) but they don't do any turns or things that are confusing when watching someone facing you. I recommend: get some mirrors, face your TV towards the mirror, and then you face the mirror. You'll see what you're doing and be facing the same direction they are.
This is a preliminary review, since no one else has submitted one. I'll try to do a more detailed one later. In one word, the Hip Hop workout by Culture Shock dance troupe is FUN. The tape is described as a "cardio-dance experience", which is more correct than calling it a "Hip Hop workout". The format is more like a 50 minute dance class than a workout, but there is no question that it will get your blood going. I'd place this tape in the intermediate aerobic category, with complex dance choreography.
Someone who enjoys Petra Kolber (ex. Step, Rhythm and Moves) as I do would probably enjoy the Hip Hop Workout. Even my husband, the dance-o-phobe, has given this a try; he joined me because "it looks fun." We both end up laughing at our no-rhythm-nerd-meets-hip-hop version of the choreography, but as the instructors emphasize, there is no right or wrong way to do the steps. And I'm getting a lot better with practice! Booty-shake, here I come!
The workout has two instructors and three other participants (aptly called dancers), two men and three women. The steps are well-cued and taught at both half-tempo and tempo. The half-tempo could drive you batty if you are looking for a continuous aerobic workout, but the half-tempo portions are necessary to learn the choreography. The workout could be called an introduction to intervals, since the dance steps, when done to tempo, are quite a workout.
A large portion of the dance steps will be familiar to anyone who has done aerobics or ballet; it is the "flavor" - the arm movements, the upper body stance, and the music - that make this different. For example, the warm-up includes step touches and plies, and the workout has a grapevine and a tombe pas de bouree; however, the grapevine has an added dip and jack that make it different, and the pas de bouree goes into a funky ball change that you didn't learn in tap class. These steps are demonstrated briefly, but a familiarity with the basic steps helps when it comes time to add the arms! Some steps have no equivalent terms that I know of but are fun none the less. I felt quite funky when I mastered the penguin step ;-)
The first half is choreographed and taught by Lenon Peachblum, an enthusiastic fellow who has obviously taught dance before. Kim Battista choreographed and teaches the second half with lots of encouraging comments. Both instructors cue well and break down the choreography into manageable chunks, but their different styles make the two sections feel very different. Lenon uses very large body movements that can become quite aerobic, with some small steps such as heel-toe-toe moves that balance the overall energy level. Kim has a more uniform energy level in her steps but uses some very nice syncopated rhythms in her moves. Both sections, though, flow together well and become a fun dance at the end.
This is not a tape to be done perfectly on the first try. The choreography will take a few times through to get. As Petra Kolber says, "First learn the feet, then you can add the arms." Since I don't get hung up on perfection, I've been able to enjoy the learning process and
just have fun. Both Kim and Lenon are fine instructors. The steps are broken down into manageable units and taught with lots of enthusiasm. I particularly enjoyed some of Lenon's cueing, since he didn't always do a vanilla countdown. Both instructors interacted with the dancers and directed comments to the home viewer, so I didn't feel all alone in my living room. Since hip hop is a new style for me, I like the "there's no right way" attitude. Each instructor and dancer has their own style, giving five interpretations of the choreography.
The Culture Shock Dance Troupe's goal is to bring hip hop dancing to the public and to support and promote the art through youth outreach programs. To further this mission they've produced this 60 minute hip hop workout. They refer to it as "volume one," so those who like it can look forward to more. These folks have great style, and they made me want to take the time to learn these routines.
Like most dance-style videos, the instructors in this one break down the moves in half time. Because these moves are so stylized, and some depend on subtle body movements to work, the half time sections will be necessary for most people. On the other hand, you are encouraged to add your own flair to the moves, and seeing 5 or 6 people on screen who each have their own style helps you see a range of possibilities.
Unfortunately, whenever routines are slowed to half time, the intensity level will suffer as the heart rate drops. There is also a fair amount of marching in place. You don't get continuous segments until you run through entire combos. As a result, this is more of a video you'd do on a day you just want to dance, not when you want an intense cardio workout.
Still, this is a fun tape for those who like funk and hip hop, and by the final run through of Lenon's routine combined with Kim's, you'll feel as if you stepped into a Gap commercial titled "khaki's hip hop."
Who will like it? If you enjoy Paula Abdul's tapes, CIA's Calvin Wiley, and the MTV Grind folks, this one is up that alley. It also reminded me of the hip hop segments on ESPN's long departed Fitness Pros show.
Who should pass on this one? If you get irritated when the tempo and choreography are slowed down to half-time frequently, this one will drive you nuts. It's also not for those with two left feet.
Lenon is charming and he's a wonderful, fluid dancer--picture Will Smith with close-cropped, bleached hair and you'll have some idea what he looks like. Kim seemed friendly also, but for some reason I didn't think her segment flowed together as well and Lenon's did. It's possible that's because she seemed to spend a lot more time teaching in half time, which tends to be awkward for me after a while.