Sensuality through Movement: Tai-Chi and Bellydancing

Jean Goulet
Year Released: 1995

Categories: Bellydance

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The text on the box reads, "The evocative, sensuous movements of belly dancing and T'ai-chi, now in this instructional video. Learn to writhe and gyrate each part of your body, like an ancient goddess of beauty." [NOTE: As someone who has been bellydancing for going on seven years, I would like to note that at no point in any dance have I ever WRITHED or GYRATED.]

It continues, "The slow, flowing, animal-like movements of T'ai-chi turn your body into liquid beauty. Each exercise is carefully explained and demonstrated as well as sections of the T'ai-chi "form" and a bellydance."

OK, well, I should have taken a clue from the text on the box, but you know me--if there's a bellydance video out there I have to have it, no matter how mediocre existing reviews are. ('Cause you just never know!)

Further, I should have taken a cue from the dance costume the instructor was wearing--some floaty chiffon skirts [fine], a cheap aluminum coin belt [borderline], and what is clearly a Warner's Brite Stripes bra with another cheap aluminum coin belt draped over it. OK, anyone who dances should know that no part of your costume should *ever* look like underwear, regardless of its humble beginnings. Bra cups, sides and straps should be completely covered with another fabric and/or decoration. So this was already setting off alarm bells.

The set is some room with wood floor with batik wallhangings along the back wall. The instructor is wearing a mike clipped to her bra, so every time she moves you hear jangling coins over her "lawnguyland"-accented voice. (I'm sorry, it's just hard to get into the middle-eastern dance mindset when the teacher sounds like Joey Buttafouco's mistress.) She explains the moves she teaches fairly well, but her execution of said moves is baaaaaaad. And she does this weird thing with hip and shoulder shimmies where she wants you to move your hip/shoulder both up *and* forward rather than keeping the movements in one plane. Tres herky-jerky. Most disappointing is after waiting for her to explain each of the moves...that's it! There is no choreography or drill linking all the moves together. You're done, without so much as breaking a sweat. Boo. And worse, she then does this really awful, thankfully brief performance.

Next on to the T'ai-chi sequence. Now she's wearing a red outfit with a gold sash. I know *nothing* about tai-chi, so I have no idea if her instruction is good or not, but her movements do seem very fluid (unlike her bellydancing.) HOWEVER, she only teaches "principles" of tai-chi, such as the posture, and moving from one foot to the other by shifting your center of gravity. At no point does she teach any of the actual forms, although it seems like she goes through a few at the very end as a demonstration, which you could sort of follow along with if you wanted but I was so demoralized by that point that I didn't. Again, big whopping disappointment.

Following the video was this big long list of all the *other* videos this production company ("Artistic Videos") puts out. I won't list them here because if this tape was any indication, you don't want to waste your money.

Renee Drellishak