Belly Dance Surprise: Queen of Flowers

A Video Review By Shira

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Summary

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

Neon teaches two choreographed routines and demonstrates a third that involve use of a veil and balancing a tray of flowers on the head. All are intended for people who don't aspire to be "belly dancers" but would enjoy doing a little performance for friends and family. However, belly dancers could use them too for performances in situations where a novelty or interpretive dance would be appropriate.

Cover

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item

Amazon.com in U.S.

Amazon.ca in Canada

Amazon.co.uk in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
NTSC
All regions
Canada
NTSC
All regions
Not offered

This video has not been released in a VHS tape version (at least, not in the English language.)

(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I have personally tested this DVD and found it to enable all regions.)

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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 Belly Dance Surprise: Queen of Flowers, by Neon?
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 September 28, 2004.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Chart

Recommended Level Intermediate
Formats Available NTSC on DVD
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 92:24 minutes
Performance Time 10:08 minutes (11%)
Teaching Time 82:05 minutes (89%)
Amount Of "Other" 0:11 minutes (0%)
Choreography Yes
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 1
List Price $19.98
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 22 cents
Cost For "Other" 4 cents

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Description

This video continues Neon's theme of offering instructional videos for people who don't want to seriously "study" belly dance, just learn some things for fun. This time, she presents three choreographed dances intended for casual students to perform at bridal showers, birthday parties, weddings, housewarming parties, cocktail parties, and other special occasions. It's not her intent to position this instruction as study for a professional dancer, just a dance to do for the fun of surprising one's own friends and families. Each of the three routines begins with wearing a veil and balancing a tray of fresh flowers on the head.

A Logistics section on the video covers the fundamentals that apply to all three routines: types of occasions where this dance might be appropriate to perform, how to choose suitable music, what to wear (Neon assumes the user won't have a belly dance costume), how to choose a suitable tray, how to balance it, suggested moves to use as drills for practicing tray balancing, how to arrange flowers on it, how to avoid soiling one's veil with makeup stains, and how to recover from forgetting the choreography in mid-performance. The section is rich with advice that applies outside of the specific choreographed pieces taught on this video. I find the section on how to actually balance the tray to be too cursory for my taste, but the drills on how to practice with it are useful.

Three choreographed pieces are presented on this video: Queen of Flowers, which is 2 minutes in length and the simplest of the three, Secret Garden which is 4 ½ minutes long and uses more complex moves, and Age of Aquarius, which is 3 ½ minutes long and uses the most complex combinations of all. Each is introduced with a performance segment in which Neon demonstrates the dance wearing a lovely sequined evening gown style of belly dance costume. Both Queen of Flowers and Secret Garden involve an entrance wearing the veil in a way that completely covers the face, with the tray balanced on the head, placed on top of the veil. On Age of Aquarius, the tray is still balanced on the head, but the veil is worn across the front chest and shoulders, leaving the face visible. In all three routines, flowers are not only used to decorate the tray, but also some are hidden in a fold of the veil which are released by the choreography to shower on the floor.

The instruction for Queen of Flowers is designed for beginning dancers. After entering with the veil and the tray, Neon removes the tray and sets it aside, then dances with the veil, discards it, and puts the tray back on. Although the moves all appear on Neon's earlier videos, she takes the time to review hip circles, infinity loops, undulations, and the other moves used. She uses innovative on-screen graphics to show a diagram of the body and how it moves while she explains each.

The practice session is a demonstration of the choreography in which Neon wears the same clothing used for teaching, while spoken cues indicate which move to do next. Two images of Neon are shown onscreen for the practice session - one showing her from the front, the other from the back. For Queen of Flowers, it is possible to choose DVD menu options for either "Learn" which continuously teaches the choreography with no practice inserted, "Practice" which leads to the practice session, or "Learn and Practice" which embeds a relevant portion of the practice session immediately after each sequence is taught. This puts the viewer in control of choosing the preferred approach.

In Secret Garden, Neon keeps the tray on her head for the opening while she dances with the veil, then eventually removes and discards the veil without first setting the tray aside, finishing the dance with the tray on her head. Again, instruction covers what to do, 16 counts at a time, but doesn't offer as much detail as Queen of Flowers on how to do the building-block moves. It proceeds at a faster pace, which is appropriate to Neon's aim of making it more challenging than the first dance. This choreography incorporates a refrain that is used a few times throughout the dance, which allows the dance to be twice as long as the first one without being twice as hard to memorize. Onscreen graphics are still used to describe some moves, but it is assumed that the viewer already knows the basics. Again, a practice session showing images of Neon from both the front and the back offers voiceover cueing on what to do next, and once again it's possible to choose whether to work with "Learn", "Practice," or "Learn and Practice."

Age of Aquarius doesn't have an instruction section. It goes straight from the performance to the cued practice session. For that reason, it is the most challenging to learn.

In all three routines, Neon uses moves and combinations that can be done mostly in place, which shows that she gave careful thought in planning the video to the space constraints that someone might face performing in the the living room of a home at a birthday party or bridal shower. Traveling steps are minimal. As a dancer, Neon's style is the Americanized type of belly dancing which uses both torso and hip moves. Her moves stay close to the belly dance vocabulary, done with an athletic, energetic spirit. She uses a number of arm movements that are creative and may offer new ideas for people who have become bored with the usual snake arms that most belly dance videos teach.

As a teacher, Neon offers many little tips along the way to explain why a particular move is in the choreography, how to tweak the choreography to make it slightly easier, alternate names for the same move, etc. For example, in one place she explains that the purpose of a particular hand gesture is to draw the audience attention away from the fact that the dancer is getting to her feet after kneeling. Neon's onscreen personality is friendly, encouraging, and enthusiastic. During the instructional segments, Neon speaks onscreen directly to the camera. During the practice sessions, voiceover provides the cueing as she demonstrates the moves.

Throughout the instruction, Neon teaches wearing a lime green hiphugger miniskirt, matching bra top, and matching sleeves. I find this miniskirt to be a bit distracting, but over time I got used to it. It certainly fits with Neon's desire to position her instruction as something suitable for a hip party girl who wants to use belly dancing for fun rather than serious study. Still, I think I would have preferred yoga pants with a crop top. On the positive side, this outfit makes it easy to see what her body and legs are doing.

In all three cases, I would have found it helpful to have written choreography notes as an insert in the DVD case to help me with memorization. Or, failing that, text slides on the disc that I could copy down.

The music utilized is New Age in flavor. Neon's choreography is not intended to be used with this specific song, however - she intends that the choreography could be fitted to any song of a similar speed and steady beat.

People who are serious about Oriental dance and think others should be too probably won't care for this video, particularly if they try to stay close to Egyptian style or Turkish style of Oriental dance. Although "real" belly dancers could find things of value in this video such as how to recover if one forgets what comes next in the choreography, Neon's approach aims for people who want to play around with belly dance for fun. Taking a step back from my own position as a long-time serious dancer, I can see how a student could have fun surprising her family with this sort of performance at a wedding, birthday party, or other happy occasion, so I can appreciate it for what it intends to be.

The production quality is excellent throughout. Neon's image appears against a black background, and she wears clothing that makes it easy to see her. The image is sharp, and there's plenty of light. The use of graphics to illustrate key points is very helpful. The overall video has a very high-tech flavor. In listening to the video on a computer with high-quality sensitive headphones, I detected some minor issues with sound quality, but it sounds fine when I watch it on a normal television set with sound coming through the speakers. The aspect ratio of the video is 16:9, meaning that it is formatted for one of the newer widescreen televisions. On a traditional television set, it uses letterbox (i.e., black bars at top and bottom of the screen) to display. This really isn't a problem, though, because the entire video has a black background which simply blends with the letterbox effect and gives the illusion of using the full screen.

Although the DVD chaptering helpfully places a chapter break at the beginning of each instructional segment, if I need to leave the DVD and come back to it later it's not easy to find/identify the right spot. There's no scene selections menu - from the "Learn" menu choice it's necessary to use the skip key on the remote to find the right spot. It would have been helpful to introduce each instructional segment with some onscreen text identifying how far into the instruction it is: "Segment 1 of 10" or whatever. That would have made it much easier for someone looking for a particular chapter to find it. This isn't such a problem on computers, which can bookmark the spot, but it's an issue when using a DVD player attached to a television.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You would like advice on how to create a tray of flowers that can be balanced on your head.
  • You have already mastered basic belly dance moves such as hip circles and figure 8's (infinity loops).
  • You want to learn choreographed routines that use veil and tray balancing.
  • You're interested in ideas on how to incorporate veil and tray balancing together into a single dance.
  • You would find it helpful to have tips on how to interact with an audience, how to deal with forgetting your choreography, and other performance skills.
  • You're working on theatrical dance ideas and would be interested in some creative arm moves, and prop ideas that reach outside traditional Oriental boundaries.
  • You plan to perform at a hafla, festival, or seminar show, and you'd like to do something different from what everyone else is doing.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You think belly dancing should be done only to Middle Eastern music.
  • You prefer to stay close to how Oriental dance is done in the Middle East, and you don't care for theatrical variations and props.
  • You have no prior experience with belly dance, not even a beginner video.
  • You would be annoyed by instruction designed for casual users rather than serious students.
  • You want a video that focuses primarily on the technique of balancing rather than choreography.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Neon makes innovative use of props.
  • Neon applies innovative use of graphics technology to explain moves.
  • The instruction offers helpful suggestions on how to interact with audience.
  • Neon offers tips on choosing a tray to balance.
  • The instruction shares secrets on arranging/using flowers.
  • The menus and chaptering are arranged in helpful ways.
  • The content taught is appropriate to intended audience of hip urban party girls.
  • Neon has an engaging onscreen personality.
  • The choreography is designed for environments that have very little space to perform, which matches the likely conditions for its intended use.
  • The production quality is excellent, it's always easy to see the instructor.

What I Didn't Like

  • Viewers could use a few more aids in helping memorize the choreography, such as onscreen text listing the moves or a package insert with choreography notes.
  • Neon's miniskirt teaching outfit is a bit distracting.
  • Viewers could have used more specific advice on how to balance the tray.
  • The video doesn't identify music used.
  • The DVD needs on-screen text identifying each chapter to make it easier to cue it to the desired point in the instruction.

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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

Instructional:

  • Instant Belly Dancer: Curves. (Now out of print. This has been replaced by Neon's 2006 release Instant Bellydancer 1, A Crash Course. The review remains online for reference of people who may be considering obtaining a used copy.)
  • Instant Belly Dancer: Hipwork Plus. (Now out of print. This has been replaced by Neon's 2006 release Instant Bellydancer 1, A Crash Course. The review remains online for reference of people who may be considering obtaining a used copy.)
  • Belly Dance Party

Performances:

Workouts:

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In Conclusion

This video is designed well for its target audience of party girls seeking ideas on how to put together a little performance for friends at family. It does what it intends to do well, but it's not for everyone because it ventures outside the boundaries of classic Oriental dance and uses props in innovative ways. People who wish to stay close to traditional styles of Middle Eastern dance would find it's not the right fit for them. However, the choreographed pieces and prop techniques could be used by dancers interested in exploring fusion, interpretive, or theatrical directions with their art.

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Disclosures

I have chatted with Neon through e-mail, but I don't know her very well. She sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item

Amazon.com in U.S.

Amazon.ca in Canada

Amazon.co.uk in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
NTSC
All regions
Canada
NTSC
All regions
Not offered

This video has not been released in a VHS tape version (at least, not in the English language.)

(If my DVD region information above differs from Amazon, trust me, not Amazon. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I ask sellers which region codes they support, and if I have my own copy of the DVD I use software to to verify the region codes.)

Or, contact Neon as follows:

Email: sales@worlddancenewyork.com
Web Site: www.worlddancenewyork.com

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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