Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jenna & Raquy - The Heartbeat of Bellydance

Overall: An impressive amount of material to appeal to all levels of dancer
Duration: 1 hour +
Recommend for everyone, whether you want to improve your drum solo choreography, learn more about the various drum rhythms or just work on layering shimmies.

This DVD is one of the most well-rounded and thoughtful programs available. Jenna takes you through a brief and thoughtful introduction to an 8 minute warm up. 

There are 3 choreography workshops, presented in various formats so you can find the method that works best for you. You can watch the entire performance, then go through the breakdown of moves, then a practice session. Or you have the option to play the breakdown and practice interspersed so you can practice as you go. The choreographies are numbered, as are the moves within them so is easy to follow along. The practice also includes a visual count of the beats, for those people new to drum solos.

The narration is excellent, and Jenna goes through each combo slowly, followed by a slow motion closeup of the feet where needed (for turns, etc.). She addresses positioning, weight changes, and other details which make it easy to follow.

There is also a Rhythm Workshop led by Raquy, who breaks down various middle eastern rhythms. She starts by clapping the accents, then playing the rhythm on the drum so you can consider what dance moves might compliment the patterns. The final chapter in this section was an improvisation with Jenna, so you can see the rhythms and dancing combined.

There are 3 part of shimmy drills - the first is a breakdown of a 3/4 shimmy.  It was an interesting perspective and would probably help out some beginning dancers. (As someone with a developed 3/4 shimmy, I found it a bit confusing and would recommend skipping this part.)  Then there are 3/4 shimmy drills (again, tailored for beginners) but the Shimmy Layering drills were excellent. Jenna walks through 8 minutes of different movement that can be combined with shimmies, all the while reminding you to keep your hips moving.

While the narration, audio quality, camerawork and framing are all very professional, the one complain is that there is some strange moray pattern on the footage. So much so I started question whether my tv was dying, but its just the DVD.  It doesn't make it unwatchable, but definitely irritating, especially as everything else is so close to perfect.

Available from World Dance New York