Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amy Sigil - Unmata

Overall: Pretty Disappointing
Duration: almost 2 hours of workout, plus extras
Recommended for any intermediate or advanced dancer with Unmata workshop experience

As my troupemates will tell you, I'm a huge fan of Amy Sigil and will take workshops from her whenever possible. I love her "don't ask questions - just follow" teaching style, and her "double that" approach to drills is always a challenge. (Amy's workshops are always a series of movements that build up into combos, every step of the way her yelling "double that!" or "half that!". You may take 4 eight-counts to do a chest circle, or have only a single count.) The DVD is very much in this vain, and its certainly the genuine Amy we all know and love - notes tucked into her waistband, yelling over the music, and occasionally making herself laugh by messing up.

You will find all of that on this DVD. Unfortunately, all the joy of Unmata is completely ruined by the horrendous video quality/production. You cannot follow Amy by watching her from her left profile, which is where the main camera is placed. Though they did have one bird's eye camera in the back of the room, the angle was far too high and the quality was barely above that of a convenience store security camera. Constantly switching angles doesn't help either. Considering what Suhaila's own videos look like - shot in a professional studio with top quality lighting, cameras and sound, I find it pretty offensive that this DVD is treated like a grade school project. $25 is not cheap for an instructional DVD, and I expect more from a Suhaila product.

Because of the poor camera angles, it will be hard for anyone without a lot of bellydance and Unmata experience to follow this. That said, it is her typical style - small movements eventually build into combos which eventually build into a series of combos or a choreography. All said, its just under 2 hours of material. There is a brief cooldown at the end, but no warm up or intro which is a little strange - almost as if the beginning of the video has been cut off. There is also a very strange moment around 35 minutes where someone decided to interject a short moment of Amy talking about her inspiration. The video has been treated with some cheap effect to make it look like she's coated in lead paint - very alien (not in a good way), very distracting, and has no business being dropped into the middle of the workout.

Other material includes Unmata's Funeral piece, which I have seen live and adore. The editing on it is so frenetic you may have a seizure watching it - it absolutely ruins the mood and makes it impossible to watch And if that wasn't bad enough, there's the "Psychedelic" version, which includes even more amateur video effects like warping and tinting. Whoever edited this video needs to go back to their day job. I can't believe Amy Sigil saw and approved this DVD.

There is an Amy Sigil interview which is very real and talks about her troubled past and how she got into dancing, which is refreshing change from the rest of this mess. There is also some footage from the forthcoming Unmata Rodeo DVD, and then the very enticing "Truth or Dare - chillin with Suhaila" portion of the DVD, which I'm sure will be the highlight but I have not yet had a chance to watch.

So in summary, I sadly have to recommend skipping this purchase unless you are a die-hard Unmata fan with lots of bellydance experience and are just desperate for some variety in your DVD collection.

Available from Suhaila