Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Kathy Smith - Flex Appeal - A Belly Dance Workout|
Actor: Kathy Smith
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Exercise & Fitness
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Kathy Smith needs to stick with what she KNOWS...
mom2raiandjas | 10/18/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Why did I buy this one? I keep asking myself that.
Kathy Smith is a good exercise instructor-she is knowledgeable and motivational in that aspect-but she needs to stick with that-and stop doing the dance videos. I tried her Latin dance video a few years ago and it was awful...and now this.
I have been bellydancing and performing with it for a few years,and I knew better-but I had to buy it. Save your money and don't.
First of all-you can't teach a belly dance video if you can't belly dance yourself. The first thing I noticed was that Kathy can't keep a rhythm and you cannot properly execute most of the moves-so it was a bad idea to have her lead this video. The sets and costumes were gorgeous-but the background dancers should have been leading this one. I think since Ansuya (Of Bellydance Superstars) was in the background, and was the one who taught Kathy the dance moves-that Ansuya should have been the main instructor here, maybe with Kathy Smith "assisting her", rather than Kathy leading the video.
Just to throw out a few examples of this-when Kathy was leading clockwise chest circles in the slow segment (lifting the chest up, to one side, down, then to the other side) she was letting her chest collapse to center between each move rather than holding it there. So, she was teaching a "chest circle" but she was not doing one. She was actually doing a "chest lift, chest slide, chest drop, chest slide" because she was collapsing her chest to center and not executing the movement properly.
She also had trouble with basic belly dance moves such as the hip drop pattern where you drop forward, back, back, back...she was too inflexible in the hips so you ended up with forward, back, same, same. I understand that she is a beginner, and that she is not a belly dancer. This is my point. Kathy doesn't need to be a "pro" to teach these basic moves-but these are basic moves that in my area are taught in the first 10 weeks of beginning class. Kathy should have at least taken belly dance lessons for a few months from Ansuya before putting out this video-or at least long enough to master the moves she was teaching in this video.
Her snake arms were stiff and lifeless and she let her arm form collapse on the downward motion of the arms every time.
Belly dance is harder than it looks-and sometimes it takes a while to fully grasp these moves and to do them well-you can't take lessons for one month, and then put out a video.
This was not even the worst part of the video, in my opinion. You cannot belly dance in your "perky step aerobics instructor" persona.
I have NEVER seen a belly dancer perform and all of sudden squeal out "OOOOOooooowwww!" This is something that has annoyed me in Kathy Smiths fitness videos for years, but at least it is okay for an exercise instructor to be obnoxiously perky. (although I avoid exercise videos by instructors like this)
This is ESPECIALLY out of place in belly dance, however. You wouldn't see a ballerina or a tap dancer shout out like that in the middle of a number, and I feel that Middle Eastern dance deserves the same respect.
I found Kathy's overall attitude about belly dance appalling. Her "woo-hoo!" -ing and shouting...and yelling "Yeah!" "OOOOoow!" during the dance moves. It really felt to me like Kathy was in "aerobics class" persona, just wearing a fancy costume.
During the fast portion of the workout, it is almost as if Kathy can't hear the music. She has no natural rhythm, and frequently gets off beat with the music. What I found funny about this, is that Ansuya and the other dancers refused to follow her and this point, and continued to dance WITH the rhythm and Kathy is left doing her own thing.
The costumes and sets were gorgeous...but a her whooping wolf calls, bad dancing, and total lack of knowledge of belly dance in general can't be covered up with "pretties".
There should also have been a brief rundown of proper posture in the beginning before starting and there was not. It only takes a minute to do this...and it is important to properly execute some of the moves.
Other than the moves she learned from Ansuya, I would venture to say that Kathy doesn't know a doumbek from a zil...or a beledi from a karshlima. Trust me...you want someone who DOES.
To sum it up...Kathy saw the popularity in the Veena/Neena and Rania bellydance videos-and decided to jump on the bandwagon to make a few bucks. The only problem is that belly dance is an actual art form and takes a lot of training to execute. She took a couple belly dance classes and then put out a video. Sheesh. Ansuya should have known better than to sign on with this...because I actually think less of her now for putting her name on this one.
I understand completely that this is marketed as an "exercise" video, and is not a professional dance instructional. However, most belly dance exercise videos (such as those from Suhaila, Rania, Veena & Neena, etc.) are by women who have a lot of Middle Eastern dance experience-not by someone who just decided to "make a video" on it, but has no experience at all. To teach Middle Eastern dance in any form-a real dance video, or an exercise video-you should know how to do it yourself."
Keep Your Eyes Off The Instructor!
Parthena Black | Oklahoma | 04/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not sure why I bought this one. It could have been that I had a 25% off coupon at the bookstore, I needed a payday treat, they didn't have the Jillina DVD I was looking for and nothing else they did have interested me. I already own four of what I think are the best bellydance DVD's out there: Sonia & Issam, Jillina, Rachel Brice and Atea. I certainly didn't need another one. Since my goal is to become an instructor, I do want to look at different teaching styles. I guess I decided to try it when I read that Ansuya was involved and the DVD had a bonus solo performance. I figured anything with Ansuya couldn't be a total loss. She is an incredible dancer and one of the most sought-after performers and instructors in the country.
The first surprise was that I immediately recognized Stevie from the Bellydance Superstars. Upon reading the credits, I found that the more voluptuous dancer I was proud of Kathy for including is Louchia, who I've heard of but haven't seen perform.
Next, it really is a good workout that actively employs bellydance. The slow workout helps beginners learn the moves and is good practice for the intermediate. The fast workout is fun and great for burning fat. You'll really work your muscles, especially your abs, in both workouts. I have been dancing for about seven months and found it challenging enough to keep me interested, and I was a little sore the next day, especially in the obliques. The fact that the workout is structured so that the moves flow like an actual dance is this DVD's main strength.
Now for the criticisms - thank Goddess that Ansuya was there. Kathy's verbal instruction isn't the best. There's a brief tutorial with Ansuya at the end of the workout that offers a lot of great instruction in about five minutes - a lot more than Kathy offers in half an hour. Kathy rushes Ansuya through it and rudely interrupts her several times, prompting me to think, "What's the rush?" The photography is better than most videos in that you have a good visual of the movement, helpful because the verbal cues are lacking. Ansuya's tutorial is listed on the menu after the workout when it should have been first, so watch it before you start, especially if you are a beginner. There's not quite enough time spent on breaking down the basic moves during the workout.
And speaking of cues - Kathy should have worked on changing her cuing style for this one. She sounds more like she's teaching aerobics than bellydance in both workouts, which didn't take long to get on my nerves. I want my bellydance practice to be more sensual and relaxing. Bellydance has become almost as spiritual as yoga for me. This type of cuing kind of ruins that. "Give it to me now!" and those wierd aerobics instructor grunting and howling noises just don't work in a bellydance workout. Kathy should have asked Ansuya to teach her how to zaghareet! In fact, she contradicts one of the most beautiful things about bellydance - it makes positive changes in your body without feeling like a workout.
And I honestly do not mean to sound mean here......at the beginning of the workout Kathy says that she loves bellydance because it makes her feel sexy, but Kathy is absolutely the least sensuous woman I have ever seen bellydance. It's pitiful. She calls the slow workout a "sensuous" workout, but you'll have to add your own sensuality. Although it's obvious that Kathy really worked with Ansuya to learn bellydance, that graceful, feminine quality we admire and feel in our art is just not there. You can take the girl out of the gym but you can't take the gym out of the girl..... Kathy's hair and makeup are nicely done and they put her in a pretty costume, but she still looks like an athlete trying to bellydance. It seems that she can't get out of workout mode. Although she's doing the moves correctly, Kathy is working out, not dancing. Again, thank Goddess there are four sensuous dancers to counteract that but we don't see enough of them. In the second workout, Kathy is too far up front and they are way in the back. There are a few closeups of them but Stevie, an excellent dancer, doesn't get much camera time at all. She's so far off to the side that I wasn't sure at first if that was her or a mirror image of Kathy. Ansuya and possibly another one of the dancers should have been right up front with Kathy instead of in the back like students. Kathy would have been smarter to do that since it would have taken some of the focus off her. Watch these dancers, not Kathy, to get a better idea of how it's done.
There are actually two solo performances by Ansuya. The first is part of the workout, where she demonstrates the moves that have just been taught in a short choreography, and the second is a brief - too brief - performance in costume in the bonus features. The "Behind the Scenes Bonus" feature is simply a one or two minute clip of Kathy and the dancers making the video, nothing special. The cooldown session is a great stretch and very relaxing, and it would be a good idea to do it first as a warmup, especially if you are only going to do the fast workout.
It's taken me two years to recover from my second back surgery and seven months of dancing to finally be ready to work toward getting back to the excellent shape I used to be in. I'll use this one when I feel energetic and want more cardio for fat burning.
Whether you like Kathy Smith or not, she's respected in the field and has a following. I think she's one of the better video instructors out there - far superior to Denise Austin - but she should have adapted her style to fit the workout. I am glad that she made an effort to bring bellydance to more women but I wish she'd done a better job. A brief history of the dance to help educate the public would have helped. I do give her a lot of credit for taking the time to actually learn bellydance from an expert.
I've worked out with videos for about 20 years now and have come to realize that they must be quite difficult to make. Even the best have their faults, mainly with cuing and photography. I've come to the conclusion that none are perfect and the actual workout is what counts. Criticisms of the instructor aside, this is still a very good workout and you will actually be learning real bellydance moves instead of doing aerobics that mimic bellydancing. I gave it four stars because as a workout, it's envigorating and safe and would be effective when practiced regularly. It's suitable for all levels. Each workout is only about 20 minutes long and that's great for those who are short on time. The choreography is fun and easy to pick up, especially if you have some bellydance experience.
This DVD can help keep your body looking it's best in your costume. And hey, you can always buy it to watch Ansuya!
To learn more about the history of bellydance and Ansuya and the Bellydance Superstars' role in educating the public about this art form, check out the "American Bellydancer" DVD.
All other belydance videos are better than this
Roses | Virginia | 09/09/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I love to workout with videos and this past year tried bellydance videos, which has become my new hobby. There are many bellydance videos available on Amazon.com and this is by far the worst. There are bellydance workout videos by the twins, instructional bellydance videos by Jillina and The Goddess Workout by DOlphina which is a little of both and I would highly recommend all of these! These videos are done by professional bellydancers that have danced their entire lives perfecting the art. Bellydance is a great workout, but it is so much more than that and not something you can learn in 2 days and instruct other people. Kathy Smith is stiff, unsexy and uninspiring and unmotivational. If this is the only video I saw, I would not be inspired to bellydance. Though she does have an "expert" on the set, Kathy is still the instructor and she doesn't have what it takes to teach this bellydance video. Try any other video, really!"
What a Fun Workout!!!
cherryblossom | 04/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Workout" is the key word. This is an exercise video, NOT a how to belly dance video. Experienced dancers should probably look elsewhere. But if you are a non-dancer, this is a fun way to get your heart rate up. There are two 20-minute routines that you can do separately or combine, plus a 10-minute cool down. Unlike some belly dance videos in which the dancers move their hips in only one direction, in this video Kathy Smith does plenty of changes of direction so muscles are worked equally on both sides. Moves are broken down and explained thoroughly, so it is easy to follow along, even for a klutz like me!