Belly Dancing the Sacred Shapes,

by The Goddess Dancing

A Video Review By Shira

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Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Summary

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

A group of three women who work together under the name The Goddess Dancing team-teaches elementary belly dance moves with emphasis on proper technique.

Item

Amazon.com in U.S.

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Amazon.co.uk in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
NTSC
All Regions
Not offered Not offered

To my knowledge, this video has never been offered on VHS tape.

 

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

What Shira.net Users Think

Have you actually watched this video yourself? If so, offer your own opinion in the poll below! Otherwise, click the "View Results" button to see what worldwide users of shira.net think of it.

 
1) How would you rate Belly Dancing the Sacred Shapes, by The Goddess Dancing?
Absolutely fantastic!
Definitely would recommend it.
Good enough to be worth the money, but not special
Disappointing, but had at least a little value
Nothing good about it at all
 

The above poll includes responses submitted since February 11, 2004.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice
Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 67:19 minutes
Performance Time 15:44 minutes (23%)
Teaching Time 49:00 minutes (73%)
Amount Of "Other" 2:35 minutes (4%)
Choreography Yes
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 3
List Price $29.95 both VHS tape and DVD
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 46 cents
Cost For "Other" $1.15

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Description

Working together as a team, Anita-Cristina Calcaterra, Cathy Moore, and Karen Uminski take turns teaching elementary belly dance moves. They organize their instruction around five different geometric shapes: the circle, the crescent, the shimmy, the undulation, and the figure eight. Older women who don't quite see themselves parading around in sequins and those who have body image issues are likely to find this overall video very affirming - the women of Goddess Dancing unashamedly allow their rounded bare stomachs to show, celebrating the curves of their real-woman bodies rather than trying to hide them. They emphasize the joy of dancing rather than the idea of lolling about in chiffon.

The video opens with a detailed description of the correct posture for belly dancing, which clearly illustrates the optimal stance for doing the moves while protecting the body from injury. This is followed by a 4-minute warm-up routine. The warm-up itself draws on various goddess archetypes to provide imagery for each move. From here, the video moves into the instruction section, arranged into five sections, one for each of the shapes. The instructors take turns in the front lead position for teaching, while the other two appear behind. For each move, the instructors use vivid imagery to help describe it. For example, in teaching hip circles they suggest you imagine yourself standing in a bowl, and you use your hips to trace the upper edge of the bowl. In addition, they also describe which muscles are engaged in producing the move. After teaching all the moves for a given shape, the instructors then lead a brief practice session reviewing each of the moves taught in that segment.

Following the segment on how to do the moves, the instructors introduce "The Creation Dance," a choreographed dance that has been set to a poem about the goddess written by Anita-Cristina. This is presented in a "follow along with me" style, and on-screen titles help guide the viewer in identifying which move is being done. The pace of the choreography is slow enough to make it possible to keep up with them. At times, it's hard to tell what to do next because the camera occasionally zooms in for a close-up of the face, but thankfully most of the time it stays back far enough to show the moves.

The production quality is excellent. The set is a dreamy fantasy bedroom, draped with sheer curtains. It is well lit and easy to see the dancers. The sound is clear, and it's always easy to hear the instructors over the music. The music throughout the video is New Age style, performed by Desert Wind. At times it is instrumental, at other times there is chanting. For each different segment, the dancers wear different practice outfits which keep the video interesting to look at. My only complaint is that occasionally the camera focuses in tightly on the faces and chests of the dancers, preventing me from seeing what their bodies are doing. This doesn't happen often enough to ruin the video, but it is frustrating when it does.

The DVD edition includes a 7 ½-minute segment titled "Special Performance" in which the three instructors take turns performing. The presentation gives the impression of friends taking turns performing for their own pleasure and for each other rather than a slick public performance. The clothing is simple but attractive: midriff-baring blouses, hip scarves, and flowing cotton skirts. There's not a sequin in sight. Soft New Age music with repetitive chanting sets a meditative mood. Karen dances first, opening her set with sword work. She begins with several bold flourishes, and does a bit of balancing. Then Karen takes her seat and Anita-Cristina begins to dance. Her routine is mostly floor work, although she rises to her feet for some standing undulations at the end. She then invites Cathy to take the floor, and Cathy continues with moves based on standing undulations. Then all three dance together to close the segment.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You want to study with a video that emphasizes proper technique.
  • You are new to teaching and you are seeking a video to give you ideas on how to explain moves clearly.
  • You would appreciate teachers with "real woman" bodies rather than slender reeds with tight gym-honed muscles.
  • You would enjoy a video that emphasizes dancing for your own personal enjoyment rather than performing.
  • You appreciate videos that identify exactly which muscles to use to produce moves.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You would be troubled by a video that uses Pagan faith and goddess imagery as its foundation.
  • You dislike New Age music.
  • You think belly dancing should be done solely to Middle Eastern music.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The instructors use vivid imagery to describe how to do moves.
  • The instructors identify which muscles are used to produce each move.
  • The descriptions emphasize proper technique.
  • The overall video is very well organized.
  • Excellent production quality.
  • The production makes effective use of computer graphics to illustrate key points.
  • The set is beautiful.
  • It's easy to see a warm rapport among the three instructors.
  • The video portrays belly dancing used as something that gives women joy.
  • The instructors have "real woman" body types.
  • The exercise clothes worn by the instructors vary with each segment, but the look is always a unified theme across all three.

What I Didn't Like

  • The camera sometimes comes in too close, showing only shoulders and faces.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Movements Included

  • Hip Articulations: 2 moves (earthquake shimmy (up-and-down hip shimmy), twisting shimmy)
  • Hip Fluid Moves: 5 moves (horizontal hip circle, horizontal hip crescent to front (half moon or half hip circle to front), horizontal hip crescent to back (half moon or half hip circle to back), horizontal hip figure 8 back to front, horizontal hip figure 8 front to back)
  • Rib Cage Fluid Moves: 8 moves (horizontal heart circle (horizontal rib cage circle), vertical heart circle (vertical rib cage circle), saggital heart circle (forward rib cage circle), horizontal heart crescent to front (horizontal rib cage half circle to front), horizontal heart crescent to back (horizontal rib cage half circle to back), vertical heart crescent up (vertical rib cage crescent or half circle up), vertical heart crescent down (vertical rib cage crescent or half circle down), vertical heart figure 8 (vertical rib cage figure 8))
  • Full-Body Moves: 3 moves (ecstasy shimmy (temper tantrum shimmy or heel shimmy), the wave (undulation), the snake (side-to-side undulation))
  • Arms & Shoulders: 1 move (heart shimmy (shoulder shimmy))
  • Head: 3 moves (horizontal head circle, horizontal head crescent, vertical head figure 8)

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

In Conclusion

This is a beautifully-presented video that avoids all the glamour stereotypes of belly dancing and instead focuses on belly dance as an activity that a woman can do simply for personal enjoyment or social time with friends. The instructors have "real women" figures, and they serve well as role models for being at peace with one's body. Although the goddess theme is present in the warm-up and "follow me" choreography at the end, it is offered in a way the viewer can choose to interpret as merely myth or as something more spiritual.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Disclosures

Back in 1997, I attended a belly dance retreat in which one of the instructors was Lorraine Lafata of The Goddess Dancing. Today, she is no longer an active member and does not appear on this video. I have not met any of the current members, and my only contact with them has been correspondence with Anita-Cristina regarding this video. I was sent a complimentary copy of the video for review purposes.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact The Goddess Dancing as follows:

Phone: (+1) (781) 641-1396
Web Site: www.thegoddessdancing.com
E-Mail: info@thegoddessdancing.com

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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