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