Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Good for beg.- to int.-level students of balancing work
Shantell Powell | Kitchener, ON, Canada | 11/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since I enjoyed Dialogue International's earlier release Cabaret Bellydancing Floor Moves Advice, I decided to invest in another of their videos: Sword & Tray Balancing for Bellydancers. Over all, it does provide some good material, but I think it's not as informative as the floor moves video. Here are my observations.
On the positive side, the instructors (Cory Zamora and Laura Sutherland) have radically different body types, demonstrating how the same basic movements vary according to the dancer's build. As Cory says, some skills may work with one body type but not with another. But no matter--it's better to master one or two skills than be mediocre at many.
Much detail is paid over what to look for when purchasing a sword or a tray. Appropriate fuel for use in tray fire dances is also discussed. Laura contains her paraffin-soaked cotton balls in candle-holders. I find this section interesting because I always work with actual candles rather than paraffin or oil.
Cory shows you what not to do during a sword performance: don't grab the sharp edge of the blade, even if using a dance prop rather than a real sword. Preserve the illusion for your audience. However, I'm not sure I like what was done with the fire during the tray dance. Laura turns her "candles" completely upsidedown at points during her performance. Although nothing bad happens, I know that if she were using oil lamps or candles, there would be a big mess to contend with. With an extra twist of the wrist, the candle-holders can be held upright. Is inverting them preserving an illusion, then? I'm not sure. I'll have to muse on it further.
Both Cory and Laura show different non-balancing techniques with their swords. Cory has a standard sabre, and Laura a heavier and more dramatic-looking falchion. The pros and cons of both types of swords are discussed, and a caveat given about doing sword work in the wind.
I am impressed by the floorwork of both dancers. Both Cory and Laura exhibit excellent control and fluidity in their ascensions and descensions, and their physical strength is obvious. The moves they're doing require a lot of quad, hamstring, glute, and abdominal strength. Still, enough standing moves are demonstrated to please those dancers who don't yet have the physical strength needed to tackle advanced floor moves. Both teachers demonstrate admirable control over their abdominal muscles. Flutters and undulations are amplified by the balancing of sword or candle-holders on their stomachs.
A variety of balance points are demonstrated for both sword and candle-holder: head, hip, abdomen, hand, shoulder, and chin (the latter new to me). Transition moves demonstrate how to move your prop from one point to another. The most dramatic movement of all, the "pop", shows how to get your sword from your head to your abdomen in one explosive movement. This changeover both intrigues and unnerves me. I'll have to give it a shot!
Although Cory says to do your transitions on the beat, for some viewers, the unchoreographed nature of the dancing will be a surprise. As a freestyle dancer, this is what works best for me. But for one used only to choreography, this video will be a big change.
On the negative side, the video has a lot of filler of dubious quality. The Ren-faire footage at the end becomes tedious because the dancers are of varying abilities (a few are novices), and the dances are too similar to one another. I was tempted to fast-forward through several parts of it, and on any subsequent viewings, I'll be skipping these parts.
Also, the camera work and production values are very amateur. Cuts between takes and scenes are jarring, and the volume and film-type occasionally fluctuates from one scene to another. At times, I became annoyed because the camera focuses on a dancer's hand, chest, or head when a wider shot would be much more useful. I think close-ups should be avoided unless they focus on a particular body part in order to demonstrate more closely an isolated movement. Otherwise, I really don't care about the dancer's cleavage, hair style, or jewellery. Also, during the Ren-faire scenes, the camera zooms in on non-dancers for no apparent reason, and also on dancers making sloppy goofs. These detracting scenes should have been excised from the video, or saved for a blooper reel.
Despite these detractions, I do think this video is worth the money. It's not expensive, and if you're a beginning- or intermediate-level student of balancing work, you'll find some good, solid information."
aembermoon | Central Florida, USA, Earth | 07/21/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Shantell Powell's review is very thorough, however, I have to deduct points for the very poor production values compared to other instructional DVDs at similar prices. The amount of actual demonstration and information in this DVD is very small in contrast to the extensive ren faire footage, much of which adds little to the teaching. The instructors themselves, in particular Cory Zamora, are good and pass on useful information. One can condense the useful material in this DVD to about 20 minutes at the very most--helpful, but really not worth scanning through the whole DVD more than once. The few demo sections at least are shot so that the viewer can see the entire body. I really expected more, particularly based on the previous reviews. I own about 25+ instructional bellydance DVDs. This one is probably at the bottom of the stack. I really wanted to like it more but I have to be fair."