This Is Your Hip 101

A Video Review By Shira

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

On this video, Mahisha from Colorado Springs teaches introductory moves aimed at a level a total novice can understand. The major sections are Hip Moves, Neck & Head Moves, Chest Moves, Basic Arm Moves, Traveling Steps, Locks, Shimmy, and a nice 13-minute performance at the end. The bulk of the time time is spent on instruction. Regardless of what style you like -- Egyptian, Turkish, American Tribal, or anything else -- the moves taught on this video will be solid building blocks for your development as a dancer.

Why I gave it 4 stars:

  • Mahisha covers a large number of moves, which she explains clearly.
  • The excellent lighting and sound quality make it easy to relax and enjoy this video. You don't have to strain to see what she's doing or hear what she's saying.
  • It's a good value for the money.
  • It includes a nice performance that provides a representative look at a professional belly dance show.

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The Chart

Recommended Level Beginner (2-18 months)
Formats Available NTSC, PAL, SECAM
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 99:38 minutes
Performance Time 13:26 minutes (13%)
Teaching Time 82:25 minutes (83%)
Amount Of "Other" 3:48 minutes (4%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price $36.95 for NTSC, $40.95 for PAL & SECAM
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 39 cents (NTSC), 43 cents (PAL & SECAM)
Cost For "Other" $1.41 (NTSC), $1.64 (PAL & SECAM)

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On this video, Mahisha from Colorado Springs, Colorado teaches a variety of belly dance moves suitable for beginning students. The video's production structure is reasonably simple: no fancy sets, voiceover, titling, or costuming, but it does invest where it counts: in good lighting and sound quality so you can easily see what you're supposed to see and hear what you're supposed to hear. Mahisha comes across as a skilled instructor: she offers articulate explanations for how to do each move, and demonstrates each one from multiple angles.

The video doesn't waste any footage on opening credits -- it starts teaching right from the beginning. It starts with advice on how to begin your session: warm up (but it doesn't tell you how to warm up), breathe, put your mind in the right frame for the work ahead, and assume the correct posture. Mahisha's comments on posture are right on target -- the posture she teaches is the right one for avoiding risk of injury.

The first section on Hip Moves lasts for about 22 1/2 minutes. Mahisha teaches several introductory hip moves, mostly of the slow-music undulation category.

The next section on Neck & Head Moves lasts for about 10 1/2 minutes. In addition to three neck & head moves, this section also includes two rib cage moves. I suspect the person editing the video goofed and inserted the title for the next section (Chest Moves) in the wrong place.

The Chest Moves section is about 3 minutes long and covers a couple of kinds of rib cage circles.

In Basic Arm Moves, which is about 20 1/2 minutes long, Mahisha teaches two exercises to build range of motion. Then she introduces several moves in the snake arm family, which she calls Waving. This is immediately followed by three different moves in the hip circle family - I'm not sure why those appeared in the section for arm moves.

In Traveling Steps, which is about 13 minutes long, Mahisha covers three different traveling steps.

The Locks section, which is about 4 1/2 minutes long, teaches the general concept of locks and then shows different ways to do a lock with different body parts.

The Shimmy section covers a couple of different shimmy variations in its 6 1/2 minutes. This is the final instructional section of the video.

The video closes with a 13 1/2 minute performance that Mahisha did in 1999 at the Veiled Spirit show. There were several things I liked about this performance. One is that she did a 3-part routine (a fast song, then a slow song, then a drum solo) which showcased three different types of belly dance presentations. The opening number was a brisk entrance piece, which consisted of coming on stage and dancing to fast, rhythmic music. The second song flowed with a Spanish influence, and Mahisha used it to do a double veil performance that incorporated a strong toreador cape work flavor with lovely silk veils. The closing number was a lively drum solo. Her costume was lovely. The camera work showed her from varied angles, which was nice, although sometimes the close-ups were too tight on her face so that it was impossible to see the dancing. Her movements were very well matched to the music. The lighting wasn't ideal for videotaping, but it was good enough that I didn't have to strain to see what she was doing.

This was followed by a brief credits section about one minute long, and the remainder of the tape (about 3 minutes) consisted of outtakes from the filming meant to offer a chuckle or two.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You want to learn beginner-level moves.
  • You're taking a beginner class and you'd like to use a video that will give structure to your home practice.
  • You're a teacher looking for new ways to explain beginning moves.
  • You dislike videos that require you to rewind several times to get a good look at the move - Mahisha shows each move from several angles.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You want finger cymbal instruction.
  • You're looking for a tape that will show how to combine individual beginning moves into your own dance.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • This video is an excellent value for the money.
  • Mahisha teaches a large collection of moves. Even an experienced dancer may learn something new!
  • Mahisha explains everything clearly, and demonstrates it from multiple angles.
  • I enjoyed the performance at the end, and it was long enough to give beginning students a flavor for what a "real" professional belly dance show is like.
  • Mahisha placed an excellent emphasis on posture. Bad posture can lead to injury, and it was good to see her focusing on the correct way to stand.
  • The video was well lit, and Mahisha's clothing contrasted well with the background, making it easy to see what she was doing.
  • The sound quality was clear, making it easy to hear the instructions.
  • The transitions from one scene to the next were nicely edited.

What I Didn't Like

  • At times, the organization was a little confusing. For example, Mahisha taught some rib cage movements in the section labeled head/neck, and she taught some hip moves in the section for arms.
  • At the very beginning, Mahisha tells you to pause the tape and warm up, which is good, but she doesn't tell how to warm up.
  • It might have been nice to have background music at times, but this is a minor point.

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Movements Included

  • Hip Articulations: 6 moves (hip lift, hip lock side to side, hip lock forward, hip lock back, hip lock up, hip lock down, shimmy)
  • Hip Undulations: 6 moves (vertical figure 8, horizontal figure 8 back to front, horizontal figure 8 front to back, maya, continuous circles, half dome)
  • Traveling Steps: 8 moves (basic hip lift walk, basic hip lift walk backward, figure 8 walk, big loop little loop, Turkish shuffle, grapevine, camel, shimmy walk)
  • Neck & Head Moves: 3 moves (head slide, horizontal figure 8 of head, vertical figure 8 of head)
  • Rib Cage Moves: 6 moves (horizontal figure 8, vertical figure 8, vertical circle side to side, vertical circle front to back, chest lock up, chest lock drop)
  • Body Undulations: 1 move (full body vibration)
  • Arms: 4 moves (snake arms, arms flowing side to side in front, L-shape snake arms, snake arms to front)

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In Conclusion

I probably wouldn't recommend this as a beginner's first tape (unless you have a teacher, in which case this tape is probably fine) because it doesn't tell how to warm up or how to start combining different moves into your own dance. But if you've been working with another beginning tape and now you're ready to move on, this one is worth considering. It will provide a nice review for the beginning moves you learned elsewhere, plus build on them with additional moves to expand your range. At about 100 minutes in length, it's more than triple the length of some other belly dance instructional tapes I've seen in the marketplace. It packs a good selection of beginner-appropriate moves into the space available, which makes it a good value for the money.

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Mahisha, choose from the list below:

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Mahisha mailed me a complimentary copy of this video to review for my web site, and she submitted a listing for herself to my teacher and performer directory. We exchanged a few e-mail messages when I was working on the review of one of her other videos and I had some questions for her. I've had no other contact with her.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Mahisha as follows:

Mahisha Alail
1055 Elkton Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Phone: (+1) (719) 531-6311

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