Katia Presents Oriental Arms

A Video Review By Shira

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Summary

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

The video focuses exclusively on teaching various arm movements for use with belly dancing. Some are soft and sinuous, some sharp accents. The video starts with the assumption that you're already familiar with basic belly dancing moves such as hip accents, undulations, and body waves, and it shows how to use arms to frame or enhance them.

Why I gave it 4 stars:

  • The content was excellent for helping beginners who already have some knowledge of hip and body movements to develop arm movements to use with them.
  • There was a good variety of arm movements taught, and even more experienced dancers may get new ideas from this video.
  • Katia explained the moves well. She broke each move into understandable steps and showed how to put those steps together into a finished move.
  • Production quality was good. Lighting and sound quality were good enough to make this video easy to view for an extended period.
  • Many of the videos for absolute beginners focus on hips and don't do much with arms. This one fills in that gap nicely.

Cover

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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 Oriental Arms by Katia?
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 October 28, 2002.

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The Chart

Recommended Level Beginner Who Already Has Some Knowledge Of Hip & Body Movements
Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 46:35 minutes
Performance Time 5:30 minutes (12%)
Teaching Time 35:50 minutes (77%)
Amount Of "Other" 5:14 minutes (11%)
Choreography Yes
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price $34.95 for NTSC
$44.95 for PAL (in U.S. funds)
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 85 cents for NTSC
$1.09 for PAL
Cost For "Other" $3.84 for NTSC
$4.94 for PAL

Belly Dancing Bellydancing Dance Bellydance

Description

The video's opening credits include a nice half-minute clip of Katia performing graceful arm movements to flowing music. In brief introductory comments, she provides a helpful table of contents of what the video contains.

The video is divided into the following major sections:

  • Warm-ups for arms
  • Snake Arms
  • Percussive Arms
  • Arms With Other Movements
  • Choreography
  • Performance

I found the warm-ups and teaching of arm movements to be the strongest parts of the video, and the choreography the weakest part. The performance provided a nice closing, especially since Katia's performance used some of the arm movements taught on the video.

In the warm-ups part, Katia made several excellent points about correct posture and the need to warm up the whole body. I agreed with her decision to not teach whole body warm-ups on this video--she appropriately kept the focus on arms, but also appropriately mentioned that full-body warm-ups were important and should also be done.

In the sections dedicated to teaching assorted arm movements, Katia introduced a wide variety of arm moves suitable for a variety of musical styles. She also did a nice job of showing how to incorporate those various arm movements into the dance through combining them with various hip moves. Some of the moves she taught were fairly simple, and others more challenging, so this video could keep a beginner busy for some time while still having something good to offer more experienced dancers.

I found the teaching portion of the choreography section hard to follow. It showed Katia going through each move in slow motion while voiceover described what was being done. The music intended to accompany the choreography was not played until after this voiceover of the entire routine from beginning to end had finished, so it seemed really out of context and hard to figure out how the moves would match up with the music. If I were a beginning dancer, my first reaction would probably be, "Huh? Run that by me again, please?" Since it is possible to rewind a video over and over, a really determined student could probably figure it out, but I wasn't determined enough to try! Still, I'd recommend that beginner-level dancers make the effort to learn the choreography, since it provides a nice structure for learning how to put a variety of moves together into a completed dance.

Following the choreography was a 5 1/2 minute performance showing Katia on stage at a belly dancing event. She used a beautiful rainbow-colored silk veil, and did a nice show.

The video ended with closing credits, followed by what appeared to be outtakes from the choreography instruction. Unfortunately, they weren't quite funny enough to work well as bloopers. I think the video's ending would have been better without the outtakes--the 2 1/2 minutes devoted to them could have been better spent taking more time to teach the choreography.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You already know some hip movements and undulations, and now you want to add interesting arm movements.
  • You still consider yourself a beginner, even though by now you've mastered a couple of beginner-level instructional videos or you've taken a few months of classes.
  • You're a more experienced dancer who is looking for new ideas for arm movements.
  • You're a teacher who is looking for new ways to explain snake arms, hand ripples, etc.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You've never previously taken any belly dance classes or worked with any other belly dance videos and you haven't yet learned basic hip movements and undulations.
  • You feel overwhelmed at the mere idea of trying to coordinate your arms and your hips at the same time.

Belly Dancing Bellydancing Dance Bellydance

What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • As shown in the opening credits and the closing performance, Katia does have a good range of attractive arm movements in her dancing. She is qualified to teach this video.
  • It was nice being told up-front what the content of the video was going to be.
  • The video started with a good reminder of posture.
  • The warm-ups were good choices for developing control and skill with arms.
  • Katia explained everything quite well. She chose appropriate words to describe what to do, and did a good job of demonstrating all the arm movements in slow motion before picking them up to normal speed.
  • I liked the fact that she changed to a different leotard and belt part way through the video, to keep it from getting too monotonous looking at the same outfit the whole time, although I wish she would have chosen a different color for the second one.
  • The set was attractive. Katia used plants as background, but left a gap between them so she was working against the backdrop of a plain curtain. This made it easy to see her moves, yet her dancing was nicely framed by the plants.

What I Didn't Like

  • I found the teaching of the choreography hard to follow. She rattled rapidly through it, leaving me saying, "Huh?"
  • Although I liked the fact that she changed leotards part way through, I wish she would have chosen a different color for the second outfit. The purple color she chose blended too much with the dark blue curtain behind her and made it tiring on my eyes to study the hip and body movements she was using with the arms.
  • Katia taught a couple of moves I didn't care much for. But this is a minor point, because I liked the vast majority of moves.
  • Following the closing credits, there were some outtakes of Katia doing the choreography. When it first came up, I was surprised--the closing credits had just finished--what in the heck was this? A couple of times she spoke, but there was no sound, which was even more confusing--was I supposed to hear it? Was there something wrong with my equipment? I finally concluded that it was outtakes. It would have been better if there had been a comment or caption telling me what I was about to see. The video would have been better if this section had been omitted--it wasn't funny enough to work well as bloopers.

Belly Dancing Bellydancing Dance Bellydance

Movements Included

  • Warm-Ups: 9 moves (pull back, circle to back, circle to front, clasp hands behind & squeeze shoulders, do letters with shoulder, cross elbow & hands in front and push shoulders, hand circles, hand ripples, hand flips)
  • Arms: 22 moves and 5 concepts
    • Snake Arms (regular, palm up, accented hands, varied size & position, wave, accelerated)
    • Percussive Arms For Accents (arm slide, arm slide alternated with wave, arm slide with flutter fingers, lightning bolt)
    • Arms With Other Movements (hands circling overhead with hip circles, hip figure 8's framed with hands, undulations framed with hands, body wave with arms climbing, sharp hips with sharp hands, opposition)
    • Spins (prayer position, pharaonic, one hand behind head & one outstretched, L-shape, diagonal prayer position, spiraling arms)
    • Concepts (mirror image, parallel arms, circles, slice through space, energy in & out)

Belly Dancing Bellydancing Dance Bellydance

Disclosures

Katia and I had never had any contact of any sort before a mutual friend suggested I might want to review her video on my web site. I agreed to look at it, and Katia sent me a complimentary review copy. After I watched it, we had further contact as she responded to my follow-up questions for this review.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Katia as follows:

Katia
P.O. Box 27007
Albuquerque, NM 87125-7007
U.S.A.

Phone: (+1) (505) 345-1046
Web Site: bellydance.org/shop
E-Mail: dancekatia@netscape.net

Belly Dancing Bellydancing Dance Bellydance

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