Instructional Bellydance With Jillina: Level 1

Year Released: 2004

Categories: Bellydance

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Instructional Bellydance with Jillina is a series of three videos teaching three choreographies of increasing difficulty and complexity. Although these videos include instruction of bellydance movements, their focus is mainly on teaching combinations and choreography. Jillina is a talented choreographer and skilled in making complex choreography simple to learn, but a rank beginner may have a difficult time following along without having previously learned some bellydance movements. That being said, as an advanced beginner I found it immensely rewarding to learn the level one choreography. Most "choreographies" on beginner-oriented videos are actually a series of simple moves reapeated 8 times each. These are genuine, insteresting choreographies, which closely follow the music. It was gratifying to feel that I had accomplished a concrete goal putting together the parts of the choreography versus just learning a few disjointed moves.

Each of the three videos follows the same format, which is similar to that on Jillina's IAMED (International Association of Middle Eastern Dance) releases.

The first section is stretching. There isn't a full warm-up, but Jillina demonstrates several different stretches on each video, while soft music plays. Like the choreographies, the stretches are increasingly difficult at each progressive level.

The second section is technique. Here, Jillina gives a brief, yet thorough, description of twelve bellydance moves, while violin music plays. The moves at level one include ribcage isolations, arm isolations, hand isolations, hip circles, hip bounces, horizontal figure eights, vertical figure eights, egyptian shimmies, shoulder shimmies, hip side hits, psoas pull, and the camel. Jillina is a very good teacher. The instruction is clear enough for review, or to get you through the choreography, but probably not enough for more serious students who want to be sure their technique is correct.

The third section is combinations. Jillina is filmed from behind in front of a mirror so you can see her movements from front and back. She is wearing black tights and a choli and hipscarf. The set is slightly dark, so it can be somewhat difficult to see her legs in the dark costume. She breaks down each combination slowly, without music, and then cues as the combination is practiced several times to music. Level one includes seven combinations.

The combinations are adapted into a choreography in the fourth section. She adds one combination at a time, often with variations and embellisments added, demonstrating it once slowly without music, and then taking it from the top with music, cueing only on the combination that has just been added, and then giving a preview of the next combination that will be added. Unfortunately, the choreography section is one huge chapter, so if you need more practice you have to rewind rather than just skipping back a chapter. For level one, the choreography is to "Alf Leyla, Wa Leyla" from the CD "A Tribute to Om Kalsoum" by Cairo Orchestra. Unfortunately, this music can be hard to find. Jillina's style is mainly "Cabaret" style dancing, with Jazz influences. I find it's usually pretty fast, bouncy, and engaging with lots of turns. The choreography is mostly pretty slow by Jillina's standards, but is still punctuated with shimmies and turns. It's actually my favorite of the three videos.

The last section on each DVD is a performance in front of a live (yet bored looking) audience: consisting of an entrance piece, the choreography she has taught you (slightly adapted to the audience), and then a drum solo. It's great to see the piece performed in full costume, but I find it's confusing to dance along because the camera-person has an annoying habit of zooming in on her stomach and face - fortunately this never happens during the actual instruction. After the performance is a short series of bloopers from filming, which somewhat confirms my suspicion that Jillina is adorable and hilarious.

I highly recommend these videos. They're affordable, offer alot of great content, and I find Jillina really helpful and pleasant.

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