Friday, May 29, 2009

FatChanceBellyDance - Woman Power Workout

Overall: Not much of a workout, but better than sitting on your couch
Duration: 1 hour
Recommended for hippies who want some bellydance-ish low impact aerobics

This DVD is mostly led by Karen Ames - an older woman who is fairly "goddessy" in her demeanor and doesn't strike me as a person with a lot of bellydance experience. I do love that most of the video is shot from behind, as though you were standing in class. The audio is sync'd, and though the instruction isn't exactly detailed, its certainly enough to follow along. (And this is far from being a technique video, so detailed instruction isn't all that necessary.) 

It starts with Karen leading some moving stretches.  These do get you fairly warmed up, but its a far cry from any sort of intense conditioning.  As a disclaimer, I have never taken any African dance, so I know absolutely nothing about the style, but the whole video felt more African influenced than bellydance to me. But they were using a lot of African-ish drumming music, so that could have influenced me.  

Next up was the veil sequence, or what should have been called "fling some fabric around".  It really wasn't anything akin to bellydancing with a veil - simply more low impact movements while dragging a veil along for the ride.

This is followed by Leg Power & Grace (or something like that). It involved lots of kicking.  This was probably the section that came closest to a cardio workout, but not terribly intense and felt very African in its style.

Carolena takes the lead for "tribal cardio".  This is about 15 minutes of arabic, hip bump, and egyptian to pretty slow music. There's no instruction - just follow along if you can stay awake.  At best, this section is boring. I can't imagine how out of shape you'd have to be to have this section get your heart rate up enough to actually be a cardio workout.

Next up is strength training, which requires weights or a pole and band, both of which are for sale at FCBD of course! The exercises were focused on the upper body. I didn't have a pole and band handy, so I just watched this session. It seemed like the same exercises you'd encounter with circuit training, but with fewer reps. Carolena who was the only person using hand weights, and it was pretty hard to see what she was doing.

Finally, the cool down section is a collection of "temple stretches" - poses based on Indian temple figures.  This was a little more interesting,  but certainly not enough to justify buying this video.

Overall, it definitely wasn't the "power workout" I was hoping for, but if you're looking for a low impact session embracing your inner goddess, well, maybe this is the DVD for you.

Available from FatChanceBellyDance

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bellydance Superstars - Tribal Fusion Fundamentals

Overall: Pretty crappy, but Sheri's portion just might be good enough to save it
Duration: 1 hour
Recommended for people who want to work on floorwork, or will buy anything put out by the bellydance superstars

The biggest issue with this DVD is that the instructional overdubbing is not properly sync'd to the dancers, so the instructions always come a little too early or a little too late.  The music also seems like it was added in arbitrarily during post production, so you'd do better to just mute the DVD and put on your own soundtrack half the time.  Second to that is the ever-rotating camera angle - constantly switching from close up to a full body mirror shot to a third angle.  All said and done, its near impossible to follow anything.

Each girl has 20 minutes to review their concepts, drill, and then present a combo or two. Therefore everything goes by very quickly - I wasn't even sure if I understood the concept (let alone danced it properly) before we were on to something else. The performances that follow each section are all mesmerizing - no question that all of these girls are amazing dancers - but they did all start to look the same after a while.  

Kami is up first with "drills for locking". She doesn't explain what locking is, and there's no warm up.  You'd do better to start with Moria's section first. Kami does chest and shoulder locks, plus a number of hip locks.  Her instruction isn't very detailed, but her pantomiming was good and I'd recommend watching this one with your own soundtrack.  As usual, she looks gorgeous and moves perfectly.

Moria leads "conditioning for layering".  This is a lot of squats, plus some very aggressive yoga. I'm not the most advanced yoga practitioner, so I stopped halfway through for fear I would hurt myself - it was pretty advanced, moving quickly, and her instruction wasn't very detailed despite talking throughout the entire thing. (It turned into white naoise after the first minute.)  She does a number of drills for layering while standing and sitting, including glute squeezes with chest isolations, etc etc.  And while I found some of the movements challenging, the A/V sync issue made it extra hard to follow and it all goes too quickly for my taste. Definitely not for people who are beginners to yoga or bellydance. 

Samantha follows up with finger cymbals.  She does everything with movement, so it will definitely be challenging for a beginning zil player. I found her instruction adequate, and she had some cute combinations of movement and rhythm. 

Sherri's section was  about floorwork and transitioning to the floor. This was by far the best section of the DVD and its only saving grace, the great irony being Sherri never actually toured with the BDSS due to an injury.  She gives excessive warnings about adequate warm-up and recommends Moria's workout prior to her own session of squats and levels.  She goes over some good prep for back bends, a number of transitions using squats/level changes, berber walks, turn & sit, plus some great movements to try on your kneels.  Her instruction is thoughtful, useful, and calm - she only speaks when necessary.  She was the only girl to use positive reinforcement, which I appreciated. Sherri's only problem was her striped circus pants - she's got the closest thing to a perfect body I've ever seen, and these pants made even her legs look chunky.

Unless you're looking for help in the floorwork dept, I'd skip over this DVD.