The Heartbeat of Bellydance: Rhythms & Belly Dance combinations for Drum SolosJenna
Year Released: 2005
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This DVD teaches you how to dance to a drum solo - not to a particular performance or sequence (although there are 4 performances done in detail) but helps you understand the music and as cliched as this sounds, feel the music.
The DVD is well-chaptered, where you can choose a specific segment you want to work on.
Warmup - a bellydance specific warm-up with some hip swirls and such
Choreography Workshop - there are 4 performances or drum solos done in detail. They're supposed to be beginner, intermediate, advanced/expert. Each of these is broken up into 4 segments - performance (done by the instructor in front of an audience), tutorial (step-by-step of each move), learn & practice (loops it 2x, so you can practice) and finally one where you do it in full.
The tutorials are all done in a studio in front of a wall-to-wall mirror with a view of the front and back of the instructor, so you do not miss anything. There are even close-ups of the footwork, at the end of some of the more complicated movements. Another great thing is that there is a little countdown marker at the bottom left of the screen, while the instructor counts it out loud as well.
The tutorials are done at a good pace - slow/explanatory, perform it once or twice. When you move on to the next movement, it gives you detailed instructions on how to segue smoothly from one move to the other.
Rhythm Workshop - Raqui, the percussionist, explains a little about the music. How you can pick up what type of rhythm or style it is just from listening to it. There's also a tutorial and performance by the instructor, Jenna, in how to dance to the drum (and the drummer).
Shimmy Drills - Shimmy Layering Drills, 3/4 Shimmy Drill. These are pretty amazing and it'll really make you work on those shimmies.
Performance, Music etc. which are typical of most bellydancing DVDs.
What I especially liked was how well organized the DVD was. It was easy for you to skip between movements in the tutorial (Choreography Workshop - #2) .. from move #1 to move #2, which may not be a big thing but for repeated viewings or practices this would be advantageous.
Again, I highly recommend this DVD. It is best for beginner-intermediate bellydancers since you do need to know some of the basic movements beforehand.
Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes
I've got to admit that I just love this video. Any complaints I have about it seem silly and petty compared to what I love about it. This will be a long review, because there is alot of content to describe.
This is an excellent video - it's well-produced, well thought out, packed with info, and quite inexpensive for a bellydance video. Jenna and Raquy are both talented performers and instructors (and both adorable!).
The two main parts of the DVD are a choreography workshop and a rhythm workshop. There is a 7 minute warmup based on bellydance and dance isolation moves, where Jenna also provides a review on dance posture. I appreciate that Jenna warms the feet and ankles, which I find lacking on most bellydance videos.
In the choreography workshop Jenna teaches three separate Drum Solo choreographies, all in Maqsoum rhythm. The beginner choreo is about one minute long, the intermediate is two, and the advanced is three. As they progress in length, they also progress is complexity and difficulty, with the third including a fair amount of layering.
For each choreography there is a costumed performance (in a much too small room, where Jenna looks cramped and knocks lots of leaves off a poor little tree). There is a choreo breakdown, combo by combo, using closeups and slow motion as needed. I really appreciated the use of slow motion and closeups for footwork, for example. Jenna assumes you are familiar with basic bellydance moves, but breaks down others. Accordingly, I wouldn't recommend this for a true beginner - only someone with some previous experience. For each choreo there is also a "demonstration" option, where the entire choreo is performed at tempo with a combo and beat counter showing on the bottom of the screen. The breakdown and demonstration sections are interspliced for a "learn and practice" option. This plays the breakdown, then practices the combo twice, and the choreo from the top using the demo footage. This choice of editing looks a little jumpy and can be confusing at first. All of the dance instruction is filmed from behind with Jenna facing a mirror. The camerawork is good, but on a couple of combos the sun is super bright, making it somewhat difficult to see.
Raquy teaches the rhythm workshop. She describes how to identify rhythms, and then describes the Baladi, Saidi, Maksoum, Masmoudi, Ciftetelli, Malfouf, Ayub (Zar), and Semai rhythms. She breaks each rhythm by explaining where to find the dum or bass notes, then claps it out, plays it a couple of times unadorned, and then with ornamentation. Following this, she plays the rhythm while Jenna dances, demonstrating moves which go with each in order to help give ideas for improvisation. Also included in this section is a 6 or 7 minute improv drum solo performance by Jenna, with Raquy and Carmine playing several different rhythms.
Finally, Jenna has also included some great shimmy drills. The Shimmy Layering drill is 8 minutes long, with the names of each move and number of repetitions on the bottom of the screen, and some cues for posture and form appearing on screen as well (for example an arrow pointing to where the chest should be raised). There is also a 5 minute 3/4 Shimmy drill which goes gradually faster and faster while travelling in a number of different directions. I think the inclusion of these drills is on the of the things that makes the video so valuable. It shows that Jenna has put a lot of thought into making something that will challenge many different levels of dancers and give them lots of material to work with and grow with.