Welcome to Belly Dance Arms & Posture, a practice for carriage, coiling and serpentine stylization. This practice was designed to be used in conjunction with your regular dance practice to increase strength, flexibility a... more »nd the illusion of bonelessness in the upper body. The practice has 5 parts: Gentle stretching to relax and prepare the body for movement, Dance movement preparation to strengthen the legs, An intense shoulder series with both strengthening and stretching segments to prepare for serpentine arm movements, A short combination to illustrate the use of arms in dance and with torso movement and layering, Finishing poses to relax the spine and prepare you to re-enter your day.« less
This is an excellent DVD which provides detailed instruction on specific arm movements and posture. It is good for beginners as well as more advanced students, even those not specifically interested in the tribal style of belly dance. Additionally, if you have any problems with muscle spasms or tightness in your neck and shoulders (usually from sitting at a desk all day long like I do), a lot of the movements taught in this DVD can help alleviate that built up tension.
Practice your way to serpentine arms
Mala Bhargava | India | 09/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful, exotic, incomparably skilled. That's Rachel Brice for you. Known for her impossibly sinuous, serpentine movements, Rachel has been the subject of unbridled admiration for years.
In this second of her videos, she's actually giving you her secret of those snaky, seemingly boneless arms. If I were to sum that up in a few words, I'd say it's patient, dedicated, focused practice. With the right muscles for your shoulders and elbows, of course. That's what gives you the degree of control that Rachel has when she dances.
Before I bought this video, I looked around for a meaty description and reviews - and found none. I wanted someone to tell me whether this video was a bit more directly useful and usable than the previous one - and that, no one was able to say. That's one of the reasons I'm writing this out in some detail. I hope others, who are wondering whether to buy it, will find their decision easier. Keep in mind though that the video has just been released and I haven't worked with it except for once. So this is a preview.
This video is a beautifully chaptered introduction to tribal fusion arm work. If you're "into tribal" it's a must-have in my opinion. If not, it will help you build arm strength and energy - you could opt to work with it less often but frequently enough to get better control. I plan to work with it intensively at first, and then space it out for once a week sessions. If you're more an oriental dancer, add bits of these exercises to your regular routine so that you don't get too accustomed to the tribal pose. But whether you're an oriental style dancer or a tribal dancer, you'll have to be fairly serious. This is a working-hard video, not a have-fun one. There's no warm up on this video. It's strongly recommended that you do some sort of warm up, for say, fifteen minutes before beginning. It's very easy to strain the neck, back and shoulders if you haven't yet figured out the correct muscles and work them when they're cool. The first chapter takes up overall preparation. This video is not, like the one before it, a whole lot of yoga. But it does pull in relevant yoga poses at different times. You begin with a yoga pose (Tadasana) briefly to get the right posture for your arm work. You then go on to upper arm rotations, arm lifts, and end with a half sun salutation. This spans just a few minutes. The next section is a "dance preparation" and is also quite brief. There are 4 little sub sections involving plies and level changes with arm moves. God help my knees.
Better sit down for this one. You get into a chapter now on seated shoulder exercises. Rotations, arcs, pulls and undulations. Each is brief, but still separately accessible from the menu. You end this section with two yoga stretches. There's one little exercise I found interesting in particular - the rope pull. You grab and imaginary rope, twist it, and pull it strongly towards you.
You might say the next chapter is the main one of the video. It's called Examples of Arm Placement in Dance. This is the nicest section and is what will give you the material to make tribal style arm combinations with. You do arm cycles, the sidewinder move, arm presses, moves led by elbow rotations, full arm undulations, arm moves with rib cage circles. But again... oh so brief. As far as I'm concerned these should not have been "examples" at all but the whole range of basic arm placements for this style. The subject of finger placement and hand undulations is completely ignored. No floreos either, though perhaps they don't appear in Rachel's style of dancing that much. . Rachel now takes you through one combination which is meant to be an illustration of how all the rotations and muscle work are applied to a dance. Just that one combination? The combination itself is not difficult but of course, everything depends on the arm work without which it won't look at all Rachel-like. It's too bad that she didn't do at least four combinations, or leave you with a sort of toolbox or bag of ideas with which to work further. I don't know about others, but I rely on videos for instruction (being in a place where there's no live classes) and that means I'll have to pick up arm combinations from other instructional and performance videos.
Well, before you know it, the video's over, with a few stretches to cool down with. How it ever added up to 74 minutes is amazing. It feels way too brief. But perhaps I'm just too greedy. Perhaps more arm work than this is inadvisable for one session. Rachel's recommendation is to take these exercises and make your own practice session to combine with your regular practice and drills.
There's a tiny and superdisappointing "interview" with Rachel. (with Miles Copeland, no less). It just covers random stuff like her jewellery. How terribly sad that they didn't talk about the arm work, which is so distinctive of her.
There's the mandatory performance on the video as well. But I have seen more stunning performances by Rachel. The style of instruction is fast paced and uses a voice-over. So there's no relating to the learner.
All in all, this one is much more interesting than the previous one. The subject may be one of the reasons. You can get hip drills on other videos, but can you get the secret to those serpentine arms anywhere?
It still gets a 4 from though because I think there should have been more combinations."
Excellent, self-contained practice for arms and shoulders
atisheh | New York, New York | 10/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The new instructional DVD from Rachel Brice is a good, self-contained practice for arm and shoulder work with a distinctly tribal flavour.
What it's not: As Mala has pointed out, it's not a thorough guide to tribal bellydance arm work, nor does Brice go over hand movements. The important distinction to draw is that this video is actually not instruction in using your arms to dance, although it includes some dance components. There are two aspects to arm movements: what the muscles and joints should be doing (pull arm up, rotate elbow, shoulder down, etc.) and what you should be visualizing or feeling in order to get the look right (feel as though you're pressing, pulling molasses, moving your hands through water, etc.) Rachel covers the first part, the muscles and joints, very well for the moves she shows, and I was able to "get" some tricky moves after her explanation. She doesn't explain how to get her "look", that is, her way of moving her arms through space veeeery slowly and deliciously and graciously. If you've had some dance instruction, you can probably imagine visualizations for yourself, but this DVD is not a key to that.
I should also mention that the DVD is slightly misnamed. It should have been called "Arms & Shoulders." Although Brice does give posture reminders, there is no longer discussion of or practice for correct posture.
What it is: It's a great little practice you can do all in one go (and it lasts under an hour). (I did skip two leg-strengthening parts involving deep squats that would have killed my knees.) There are many exercises for improving shoulder mobility and strength, some of which I had not seen before. Some of the arm movements reminded me of the arm practice session of my flamenco class.
If you're interested in tribal, you've probably already bought this video. However, it would be very useful for any dancer looking to work and stretch the shoulder region, bellydancers, yes, but if you're learning flamenco this would be great too. This is also a video I'd file under "Great for People Sitting at Desks/Computers All Day Long" -- if you're even a bit curious about this kind of dance, this video will help you move exactly those muscles which are most damaged by sedentary desk work.
Other notes: The video is also a really good deal for the price, which is why I gave it five stars. I like Brice, but am not an acolyte, and her choreographies kind of all look the same to me (amazing, but the same), so I'm not in a position to judge the performance. There is a cute chit-chat segment between her and Miles Copeland in the "Extras" section in which she comes across as funny and down-to-earth. I would also add extra stretching to the end of the program."
Too little, but what's there is good
LadyM | Tallest Tower, LA USA | 10/17/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
I am giving this program a 3 because there is only one short combo, no instruction on hands, and doesn't deliver enough arm variations... on the bright side, the stretches are unique & useful, and what is there, is put together VERY well. I love how she broke things down into components.
All in all, the program was, for me, easily absorbed. The combo she shared was nice, but not spectacular, and it was the only one! I enjoyed the content that was there, but I am disappointed. I expect more arms variations on an arms dvd."
marymunchkin | 09/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow!! It's been awhile since I've found an awsome instructional DVD.This is bare bones arms drills.To the point and expertly demonstrated.Divided into chapters and completely broken down.Well worth the wait.Perfect to add to your practice and come back to over and over.Bravo Rachel Brice!!"
Great detailed instruction for body awareness & fluid arms &
Lena, LMT | Nassau, NY | 02/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mala's 9/28/07 review is wonderfully done. There is so much content in this 45 min workout that's hard to describe that I won't try. Few things: There IS soft middle eastern music playing throughout to keep you from getting bored. This is a slow, relaxed, toning workout to bring about body awareness as well as strengthen the shoulders & arms. Rachel does voice over throughout. There is only a little bit of plies & yoga chair pose in the very beginning section just to get you to be more aware of your body & start the strengthening part. If you have bad knees, modify or just do the arm movements alone. There is no deep stretching in the beginning or cardio. This is a relaxed, detailed instruction that does incorporation toning due to all the arm practice/exercises. There is no weights involved, just practice. Towards the end in about 10 min you will learn a routine that has a few snake arms & undulations & torso figure 8s that Rachel is known for, practice a few times & it is shown in the performance area. The last 5 min is stretching more yoga style with a meditation/savasana.
Rachel has great body awareness, when my shoulders were feeling so tight that thought they would spasm, she incorporated a triceps stretch where you put your hand behind your back & pull further by the elbow. I didn't think it would help enough, but by the time she was done, My shoulders felt relaxed enough that I could have done the toning again. She really shows you how to relax your body like water & really contract strongly only the muscles you need to make the move as to look the most fluid. This slower style really works your muscles stronger, better & gives you more protection from injury when others move too fast & you might not be sure exactly which muscles you're suppose to contract. This is the same great instruction as her "Tribal Fusion - Yoga isolations & bellydance drills" but almost no yoga. I would suggest this for any belly dancing enthusiast who's been doing belly dancing classes or dvds for some time & knows undulations, chest circles & snake arms at least a little a bit. Anyone else who can also do these moves & want deeper detailed instruction as well as movements to be more aware that the focus comes from the shoulders rather then the arms would also benefit.
There is a clip on youtube under "bellydance arms and posture" from HollywoodMusic "