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Overall Rating: (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)
On this video, Kajira Djoumahna teaches step combinations with cues for use in American Tribal Style belly dancing. You could certainly also use these same step combinations in your own solo dances or troupe choreography, but Kajira focuses on how to use the moves for group improvisation in the style that was pioneered by FatChanceBellyDance in the 1980's. At nearly 2 hours long, the video allows plenty of time for Kajira to teach both some combinations for slow music and also some combinations for fast music. She also builds in several practice segments to help you accustom yourself to watching for cues and making the transitions. The video ends with a performance in full tribal-style costume by United We Dance, Kajira's own dance company.
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|Total Video Length||110:41 minutes|
|Performance Time||7:57 minutes (7%)|
|Teaching Time||97:05 minutes (88%)|
|Amount Of "Other"||5:39 minutes (5%)|
|Number Of Models||3|
|Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time||43 cents|
|Cost For "Other"||$2.25|
This video, produced by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance, teaches the fundamentals that distinguish American Tribal Style from other variations of belly dancing, including posture, how to do group improvisation, and some sample step combinations with cues that are suitable for group improvisation. The instructor is Kajira Djoumahna, author of the book The Tribal Bible. She is assisted by two members of her dance company, United We Dance - Seana and Najla.
The video opened with about 7 1/2 minutes of introductory comments and a warm-up consisting of three different crunches. If you work with this video, you would want to add your own additional movements to the warm-up.
The instructional portion of the video is divided into two primary sections: technique for slow music, and technique for fast music. Each of these sections includes instruction in several step combinations and the cues used to invoke them accompanied by a practice session. Kajira teaches enough distinct moves to enable you to perform a short group improvisation to each speed of music.
Kajira and her two assistants, Seana and Najla, wear practice outfits that make it easy to see the moves. All three wear backless cholis on top. On the bottom, Kajira herself wears pants that make it easy to see what her legs and feet are doing. One of her assistants wears a full multi-tiered skirt that helps visualize what the moves will look like in full costume. The third assistant wears rayon fringe over leggings. Their clothing contrasted well with the background, so it was always easy to see exactly what they were doing.
The Technique: Slow Movements section covers a couple of figure 8 variations, rib cage isolations, cross-point, and pestle. Each of these sections is introduced with a demonstration by Kajira and her two assistants in their practice outfits, doing actual group improvisation with the movements that are about to be taught. Next comes the instructional section, in which Kajira is the only individual on-camera. She breaks each move down into its component parts, offering excellent explanations on how to do it, and she demonstrates each move from two or more angles. After Kajira finishes teaching a group of related moves, her two assistants rejoin her on camera and they lead a brief practice session in alternating between some of the moves that were just taught, giving practice in using the cues. At the end of the Slow Movements section, Kajira leads a 2 1/2-minute follow-along session that reviews all the step combinations and cues that were just taught. Altogether, the Slow Movements section is about 53 minutes long.
The Technique: Fast Movements section covers several 3/4 shimmy variations, Egyptian variations, vines, and Mo' Rockin' hip hop. As with the Slow Movements section, each step family is introduced with a demonstration, then detailed on instruction on several variations, and finally group practice. The follow-along at the end of this section is 1 1/2 minutes. Altogether, the fast moves section covers about 38 1/2 minutes.
The video closes with an 8-minute performance in full costume by Kajira, Seana, and Najla, members of her troupe United We Dance which appears to have been shot in a dance studio that has been decorated for mood. The group incorporated many of the combinations that were taught, but also included some additional moves that were not part of this video. It did an excellent job of demonstrating how the material taught on this video fits into an overall presentation while showing a broader view of what American Tribal Style is capable of. I found the draping sleeves of the costumes to be somewhat distracting, but otherwise enjoyed the performance. If you've never previously watched a performance of American Tribal Style, you might find their stage presence to be puzzling (focused on each other rather than on the audience), but it's definitely representative of the style and appropriately presented.
|If you're interested in American Tribal Style, even if you have not previously had any exposure to it, this video is an excellent choice. Although on the surface the price looks higher than many other belly dance videos, its length (nearly 2 hours) makes it a good value for the money. For people who don't have any knowledge of American Tribal Style, Kajira offers an excellent introduction that includes both moves and philosophy. Beginners with some previous knowledge of belly dance may find the step combinations useful even for their own solo dancing. For those who are already familiar with American Tribal Style, this video offers some of Kajira's own step combinations and cues to add new variety to your group improvisations.|
If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos produced by IAMED, choose from the list below.
|Kajira and I originally met over the Internet around 1997, and over the years we have become friends. I respect her on many levels: as a dancer, an event sponsor, and a writer. IAMED (the organization who produced this video) sent me a complimentary copy to review for my web site.|
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