World Dance Workout, by Elsa Leandros

A Video Review By Shira

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Overall Rating: StarStarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

Elsa Leandros leads a 50-minute workout based on belly dancing, samba, salsa, Bollywood, and flamenco dance moves. She offers a tutorial section that teaches the basic moves used in this workout for each of these dance forms. Cover

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Not offered Not offered

To my knowledge, this video has not been released on VHS tape.

(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I have personally tested this DVD and found it to enable all regions except 9 for cruise ships and airplanes.)

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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice or Expereinced Beginner
Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 1:32:08 minutes
Workout Time  51:58 minutes (56%)
Teaching Time 21:49 minutes (24%)
Performance Time 18:06 minutes (20%)
Amount Of "Other" 0:15 minutes (0%)
Cultural Information No
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 3
List Price $14.98
Cost Per Minute Of Fitness, Performance, & Instruction 16 cents
Cost For "Other" 4 cents

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On this video, Elsa Leandros leads a fitness routine based on movements from several dance forms, including belly dance, samba, Bollywood, salsa, and flamenco.

The DVD contains three primary components. These components are arranged in several different ways to give the user flexibility in working with the material. The components include:

  • A 22-minute instructional section that teaches the basic moves used in the workout for each of the dance forms featured
  • A 52-minute fitness routine based on these dance forms
  • A performance segment featuring costumed performances of each dance style used in the workout

The section titled "Learn the Moves" offers introductory segments for each of the dance forms used in the workout. For each dance form, it shows the basic moves slowly, with explanation of what to do and warnings about errors to avoid. It's possible to either run the entire instruction section from beginning to end, or to use a chapters menu to skip directly to the desired section for study.

This separation of instruction from workout is designed very well. It allows newcomers to one or more of the dance forms to learn the moves at their own pace before tackling the workout, and it allows the workout itself to flow at a continuous pace without stopping midstream to teach something.

With only 2-3 minutes devoted to each dance style, this video doesn't offer any more than a taste of each. It's enough information to make it through the workout (which, of course, is the purpose) and determine which dance forms you might want to study in more depth. However, it won't teach you enough about any of them to make you feel you "know" them.

As Elsa teaches each move, she first demonstrates it properly as the voiceover describes what to do. Then she demonstrates a wrong way to do it, followed by shaking her finger in a "no-no" sort of way, and sometimes the voiceover explains what she is doing wrong. Unfortunately, it isn't always clear to me when she is demonstrating an error, because the "no-no" gesture comes after the error has been shown and the voiceover doesn't always identify the fact that it's an error. These segments could have been improved by having something onscreen identifying that an error is being displayed such as the word "wrong" or a red circle with a slash through it.

The workout section is the primary focus of this video. In each segment, Elsa is joined by two fitness models to help demonstrate the moves. The fitness models include Tanna Valentine, Debbie Saliyah Mangual, and Gaby Kabul. They take turns being on camera with Elsa. The workout routine consists of:

  • Warm Up. About 7 minutes. Consists partly of belly dance moves and partly of exercises. Music used is by Jehan.
  • Belly Dance. About 6 minutes. Some crisp moves such as hip lifts and drops, rib cage lift/drops and some fluid moves such as circles, figure 8's (infinity loops), and undulations. Music used is by Jehan.
  • Belly Dance Shimmy. About 4 minutes. Includes some traditional hip shimmies and some running-in-place choo-choo shimmies. Music used is by Jehan.
  • Samba. About 8 ½ minutes. Box step, basic step, Carmen Miranda step, and others. Music used is by Daniel Carvalho.
  • Salsa. About 6 minutes. Mambo step, basic salsa step, and others. Music used is by Kevin MacLeod.
  • Flamenco. About 7 ½ minutes. Some use of arm movements while standing still, then adding them to rumba-style dancing. Her reason for choosing the rumba style of flamenco is that it has little to no tacaneo (footwork), which makes it easier for someone with no flamenco training to follow the workout. Music used is by Roger Scannura.
  • Bollywood. About 6 ½ minutes. A bit of bhangra, a bit of bharata natyam, a bit of modern Bollywood moves. Music used is by the band Solace.
  • Cool Down. About 6 ½ minutes. A number of arm-oriented movements, some stretches of calf and hamstring, etc. Music used is by Jehan.

The structure of the workout is easy to follow. For each dance form used, Elsa begins its section with a basic foundation move, repeating it several times. Then she moves on to one of the additional moves of that style, repeats that enough times to feel comfortable with it but not enough to get bored, then returns to the foundation move. Next comes another combination, then the foundation again. This is repeated throughout the section for that style. Each time she starts the next dance form, she slows the pace to simple moves, then builds on it.

The movement is fun to do, and the music is varied. This workout is likely to appeal to people who are not serious students of these dance forms and just want a taste of what they are like. The moves chosen are basic enough for people who have not previously studied these dance forms to get the general idea from the instruction section and then follow along in the workout.

Serious students of the dance forms used on this video may be a bit frustrated with this workout because during the exercise portion the onscreen dancers' technique often lapses a bit. For example, sometimes in the belly dance section moves that should be isolated are not. People whose sole aim is exercise probably won't mind, but those who want to learn the moves correctly won't find strong role models to imitate.

A person who is somewhat fit will probably find that this video drives the heart rate into the cardio zone and see aerobic benefit from it. However, a fully fit person who regularly does cardiovascular exercise such as jogging probably won't break a sweat. For these people, the workout still has merit for building tone and control in muscles that normally wouldn't be used this way in other exercise forms, using it on "yoga days".

The performances are the weakest material on the video. Although Elsa maintains a pleasant facial expression throughout, her presentation seems somewhat introverted. In some of the clips, including the "Egyptian" belly dance segment, her arms look rather awkward. I find her performances of flamenco and Bollywood to be her strongest ones. In all cases, she appears against a black background, with only herself lit. This makes the performances fatiguing to watch - her dark hair and some of her clothing blend into the background too much. The performances include:

  • Bollywood Medley. About 4 minutes. This one makes me feel like Elsa is confident and enjoying what she's doing. Her technique is crisp where it should be (such as when she's including moves from classical Indian dance) and loose/bouncy where appropriate.
  • Flamenco Rumba. About 3 minutes. Again, Elsa comes across as being confident, in her element.
  • Egyptian Cabaret. About 5 ½ minutes. She should have titled this "Americanized Belly Dance" because although she uses Egyptian orchestral music from one of Nourhan Sharif's CD's, her dance style really doesn't look very Egyptian to me at all. Her technique is loose instead of controlled like an Egyptian, and she uses many Western moves such as forward kicks that I've never seen an Egyptian dancer do.
  • Vintage Salsa. About 4 ½ minutes. This performance opens with Elsa dancing alone, using the moves from the workout. Then a partner (Angel Burgos) joins her and they dance together as a couple. I find the solo segment to be rather repetitive. The couple dance is more interesting to watch, but I feel like I'm watching people in a social dance environment rather than watching performance-quality dance. It's odd that Angel never looks at the camera at all, while Elsa does so frequently.
  • Club Samba. About 1 minute. This too has the simplicity and repetition of a social dance rather than of a made-for-performance dance.

I do appreciate the various costumes Elsa has used for each of these segments, and the music fits each piece.

The production quality on this project isn't quite as strong as that of other DVD's I have seen from World Dance New York. The black-background performances aren't easy to watch, and at times throughout the workout the sound isn't quite synchronized with the movement. On the plus side, the camera work and editing are excellent, and the lighting for the workout and instruction is done well.

I particularly appreciate the way the DVD authoring is done. The menu structure makes it possible to view the material by dance style (with choices for instruction, workout, and performance for each conveniently arranged) or by category of presentation (instruction vs workout vs performance). If you don't have time to do the full 50-minute workout all at once, it's possible to "roll your own" workout to fit the time available by using a menu to pick which parts of the routine to use. The menus allow you to use either the voiceover cueing with the workout, or music only.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You are new to the various dance styles included in this workout.
  • You're curious about one or more of the dance styles used in this workout and you'd like to sample them before deciding whether to pursue more in-depth instruction in them.
  • You enjoy music by Jehan (or other New Age flavored music) for belly dancing.
  • You know enough about the dance styles used in this workout to enjoy using them for exercise, but you're not interested in studying them seriously.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • Your interest in workout videos is confined to those based solely on belly dancing.
  • You prefer to work with videos that are role models for excellent technique.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The workout uses a variety of moves, which makes it interesting to do.
  • The video's organization separates instruction from workout.
  • The chaptering of the DVD makes it easy to access the desired segments.
  • In the instruction section, Elsa warns of errors to avoid making.
  • A slide page identifies all dancers who appear with Elsa.
  • The credits identify all the music used and where to buy it.

What I Didn't Like

  • The sound is sometimes not quite synchronized with on-screen action.
  • The workout leaders don't always maintain proper form.
  • In the tutorial section, it is sometimes unclear that the move being shown onscreen is an error to avoid rather than proper form.

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In Conclusion

If you're intrigued by various world dance forms, you'll probably enjoy this workout. It offers a taste of several, contains enough repetition to be easy to follow, and enough variety to hold your interest from beginning to end. People who don't do cardio exercise regularly will find that this workout really gets the heart rate going, whereas people who are accustomed to cardio exercise will find that it's more of a sculpting/toning workout.

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I have never had any contact with Elsa Leandros. I have reviewed other videos produced by the same production company, World Dance New York, and the copy of this one that I used for the review was sent to me by Neon, the publisher.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Not offered Not offered

To my knowledge, this video has not been released on VHS tape.

(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I have personally tested this DVD and found it to enable all regions except 9 for cruise ships and airplanes.)

Or, contact World Dance New York as follows:

Web Site:

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