Veil Workshop With Mahisha

A Video Review By Shira

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

This video is intended for intermediate-level dancers. It teaches a collection of moves to do in American-style veil work. (If you're not sure what American-style veil work is, please read Styles Of Belly Dance In The United States elsewhere on this web site.) The instructor is Mahisha Alail from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Most of the instructional section of the video uses a semicircular veil. Near the end, Mahisha introduces a rectangular veil and teaches additional moves that are particularly suitable for that shape of veil. The video closes with two performances by Mahisha. Although I gave it only 3 stars, the fact that it's an affordable price and 75 minutes long make it a good value for the money and it's probably worth adding to your video library if you're interested in expanding your repertoire of American-style veil moves.

Why I gave it 3 stars:

There were a number of good things about this video: the decision about which moves to teach, the good-quality lighting and sound, and the beautiful single-veil performance. If you already know a little bit about American-style veil work and you'd like to learn more, you'll probably find this video useful. But it had some issues that led me to feel it didn't deserve more than 3 stars. The flow of information confused me at times -- for example, Mahisha interrupted her veil instruction to discuss the importance of taking good care of your costume. She never actually said how to take care of it, and then went right back to her veil instruction as though nothing had happened. There were also several bloopers, which should have been re-shot and edited out.

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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Intermediate with some prior exposure to veil work.
Formats Available NTSC, PAL, SECAM
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 75:00 minutes
Performance Time 11:53 minutes (16%)
Teaching Time 62:15 minutes (83%)
Amount Of "Other" :52 minutes (1%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price (as of April 28, 2001) $26.95 for NTSC (North America)
$30.95 for PAL & SECAM
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 36 cents for NTSC
42 cents for PAL & SECAM
Cost For "Other" 31 cents for NTSC
36 cents for PAL & SECAM

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The primary purpose of this video is to provide instruction in American-style veil work. Mahisha also spends time discussing and demonstrating proper posture. There was an overall sense of informality about the video that gave the impression I was in Mahisha's classroom and she was sharing her knowledge with a room full of students.

For this video, Mahisha wore a black leotard, white tights, and gold dance belt with beaded fringe. This ensemble contrasted appropriately with the background light gray curtain, making it easy to see her moves. Her blue veil contrasted sufficiently with her clothes to be easy to see.

The video opened with a few introductory words about which fabrics work best for veil, but I felt this section could have benefited from more information on how to make a veil. It then moved into teaching a wrap and several moves, all using a semicircular veil. Later, it introduced a rectangular veil and covered additional moves that are particularly well-suited to that shape. It closed with two performances, one focused on the moves that had been taught, and the other involving a 7-veil dance.

Mahisha talked a little about how to spin without getting dizzy. This is an important subject for learning veil, and I was glad she addressed it. Many people who teach veil don't include it. She provided good, useful information, but I wish she would have covered it in more depth.

At one point Mahisha emphasized the importance of taking good care of costumes. Unfortunately, she didn't provide clear recommendations on what to do. I found that by listening carefully I could figure out what she meant, but she should have been more specific and provided more clear, actionable steps that people could follow.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You've had previous exposure to veil, either from another video or from a live teacher, so you already know how to make one and you already know about wrapping the veil around yourself backstage and doing your opening number while wrapped.
  • You love American-style veil work as much as I do and you're always eager to learn additional moves for your repertoire.
  • You've been toying with the idea of trying a "dance of the seven veils" for yourself, and you'd like to see what someone else has done with it.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You've never before taken any prior belly dancing classes or worked with any introductory belly dance videos. This video is intermediate level, and would be a disappointing choice for someone with no prior belly dance knowledge.
  • You've had no prior exposure to veil, either from video or from a live teacher. This video omits some important facts (such as how to make a veil) that a first-timer would need to know.
  • You don't do American-style veil work; you only want to use veil for an Egyptian-style veil entrance.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Mahisha chose some good moves to teach, starting with beginner level ones and working up to more complicated moves.
  • I learned a couple of nice new moves myself from this video, even though I've been doing veil work for over 20 years.
  • The set was attractive but not distracting. An Oriental rug was on the floor. Candlesticks framed the set on each side. A light gray curtain behind Mahisha provided a nice backdrop that made it easy to see her moves.
  • The lighting was excellent.
  • The video was longer than an hour, making me feel like it offered good value.
  • The sound quality was good. I could easily hear everything Mahisha said.
  • She explained each move well, and repeated it with varying camera angles.
  • She demonstrated some moves without the veil, to make it easy to see what the hands were doing.
  • In the first performance at the end of the video, Mahisha wore a beautiful green costume and systematically demonstrated each and every move she had taught. It was nice to see how the moves would look in the context of a performance with everything put together. The performance itself was graceful and enjoyable to watch.
  • Mahisha took the time to discuss the importance of proper posture, explained it, and demonstrated it. Her comments about posture were right on target.

What I Didn't Like

  • It wasn't clear to me whether this video was intended to teach people who have never before done veil work where to start, or whether it was intended to teach additional moves to people who already knew at least a little about American-style veil work. It didn't provide enough elementary information (such as size of veil and the fact that you tuck it backstage before making your entrance) for newcomers to veil, yet it taught some very introductory moves.
  • A number of bloopers were left in the tape, each one accompanied by a nervous giggle from Mahisha. Those scenes should have been re-shot and the bloopers edited out. The first blooper wasn't too annoying, but there were many throughout the video and by the end I was tired of hearing that giggle.
  • The transition special effects were overdone. I have visions of the person who edited this video gleefully experimenting with his new toy, eagerly inserting each and every transitional effect available from his equipment into the video. It would have been better to pick a couple of favorite transition effects and use those throughout.
  • In many of the transitions, Mahisha was cut off as she was starting to say something, which caused distracting cut-off words at the end of each transition. It would have been better to remove the sound track from those transition frames.
  • In the 7-veil performance at the end of the video, the colors of the 7 veils clashed nastily with each other and also with the costume she was wearing. There wasn't enough variety in the movements performed with each veil to hold my attention.
  • Sometimes I became confused over what Mahisha was doing. There were times when I was expecting a review of an existing move, but instead she went on to introduce another one. It would have been easier for me as a viewer if she had clearly introduced each move with words along the lines of, "Now, let's move on to ...."
  • At the beginning, she said a few words about which fabrics she recommends for veils, but didn't provide enough information for someone to actually make a veil. For an introductory video of veil fundamentals, it seemed surprising this was omitted. This was one of the reasons I don't recommend this video for someone who has had no prior veil instruction.
  • Although she appropriately began the video by demonstrating a veil wrap, she didn't offer any explanatory words about the fact that you would do this wrap backstage before your show, perform your opening number with the veil intact, and then dance it off when the music for your veil number begins. For a video that seemed to be slanted at dancers learning veil for the first time, I felt this was a glaring omission.

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Movements Included

  • Veil Wraps: 2 choices (Grecian over-one-arm wrap with semicircular veil and head tuck with rectangular veil)
  • Semicircular Veil Poses: 3 moves (body wrap tent frame, head wrap frame, tent with outstretched arms)
  • Semicircular Veil Moving: 9 moves (cone spin, figure 8 with arm, one-handed spin, one-handed direction change flourish, spin while handing veil from one hand to the other and wrapping it around the body, propeller turns, rhumba step, wrap veil across front, matador)
  • Rectangular Veil Moving: 6 moves (how to dance out of the wrap, flip veil up to neck, butterfly wings, windmill spin, large one-armed arm circles, pulling veil out of neck position)

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In Conclusion

If you're an intermediate- or advanced-level dancer who loves veil work and you already have at least a little experience with veil, you'll probably enjoy this video, and there's a good chance you'll learn something new from it. The production values have some warts, but the critical issues of lighting and sound are handled well. I enjoyed it despite the issues I pointed out, and I do recommend it.

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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 couple of e-mail messages when I was working on this review and had some questions. 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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