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Overall Rating: (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)
In this video release from the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED), Paulina teaches some introductory belly dance moves and puts them together with a practice session. Jindra leads a workout based on those moves. Paulina and Anaheed each do a performance.
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|Recommended Level||Total Novice|
|Total Video Length||1:40:46 minutes (i.e., 100:46 minutes)|
|Performance Time||10:32 minutes (10%)|
|Teaching Time||54:07 minutes (54%)|
|Workout Time||31:29 minutes (31%)|
|Amount Of "Other"||4:38 minutes (5%)|
|Number Of Models||1 for instruction, 3 for workout|
|Cost Per Minute Of Teaching, Workout, & Performing Time||31 cents|
|Cost For "Other"||$1.38|
This video consists of three major sections: an instructional section taught by Paulina, a practice/workout section led by Jindra, and a performance section with performances by Paulina and Anaheed. Like its companion videos, Art of Belly Dance - Arabian Sands and Art of Belly Dance - Enchanted Nile, this video teaches elementary moves, offering a level of explanation suitable for someone who has never belly danced before. It doesn't really matter which of the three videos is used first - each can stand on its own, without needing any prior knowledge of material taught on the other, and both are taught at the level of a complete beginner.
Paulina has designed the instructional section for the needs of people who have never before set foot in a belly dance class or worked with a belly dance video. Her pace would be particularly well suited for someone who has never before studied any kind of dance. Each segment begins with a brief 30-60 demonstration of the move(s) that will be taught in that section. Paulina then patiently explains in great detail how to do the move, demonstrating each from both the front and from the side. She lingers and drills it before proceeding to the next.
After drilling it a bit, she then warns against common errors, which viewers can use to check their own technique. In some cases, she includes variations in the section, not just the base move. At the end of each section, a screen of text lists the key points for doing the move just taught, which could be a helpful guide for someone who wants to take written notes. The instruction is divided into 9 major sections, as follows:
In the one-minute introduction to each segment, as Paulina demonstrates the move to music, she uses the arm movements with it that will be taught later. This makes it possible for the viewer to see how the move will look when fully put together. I like this better than how the demonstrations are done in the companion volume Arabian Sands, because in Arabian Sands all the demos involve awkwardly holding the arms out to each side.
The instruction doesn't follow the customary "warm up", "teach", then "cool down" format that most instructional belly dance videos use, because it assumes you will warm up and cool down on your own.
Throughout this instructional section, Paulina wears a matched set of bra top and leggings with a hip scarf. Her body contrasts well against the background behind her, and it is always easy to see what she is doing.
Following the instruction, Jindra Payne leads a 31 ½-minute workout with the help of two fitness models, Laura Peterson and Sayaka Aral. Their attire matches Paulina's, which provides continuity with the instructional section and makes it easy to see the moves. The warm-up section consists of 5 ½ minutes of stretches, so I'd advise warming up on your own before beginning to follow along unless you do the workout immediately after following the instruction. (Current fitness "wisdom" is that stretches shouldn't be used for warm-ups, because stretching a cold body can cause injury.) The 22 ½-minute main body of the workout consists of belly dance moves. It ends with a 3 ½ minute cool-down that includes some stretches. The workout uses the moves that Paulina taught, plus adds rib cage slides, side-to-side spins, large hip circles, snake arms, and step-hip traveling steps. The packaging says the emphasis of the workout is on strength, but I would expect a strength-oriented workout to consist largely of weight resistance training, and I don't really see that in this routine.
Jindra re-teaches the moves that Paulina taught. This interrupts the pace of the workout and makes it more tedious to use repeatedly. It also seems rather unnecessary after Paulina's thorough descriptions, though I concede that if someone found it difficult to master a move based on Paulina's style of explaining, Jindra's review of it using her own style of explanation might fill in a gap. She structures the workout in the style of teaching the first combination, rehearsing it, then teaching the second combination, rehearsing it, then doing the first followed by the second, then adding and rehearsing the third, then taking it from the top and doing all three, etc. It is easy for beginners to follow along, but by the end you might be tired of the first couple of combinations, so it just depends on what style of workout structure you prefer.
Generally speaking, the character of the workout seems to have the flavor of a gym group workout class rather than drilling/review of dance moves. The choreography itself is dance-oriented and provides a structure to drill on the moves that Paulina teaches and put them together into a dance. However, the workout leaders move like gym aerobics instructors rather than like dancers. Jindra and her assistants tend to splay their feet far apart on their side-to-side steps, exaggerate moves, and bob their heads up and down as they do hip lifts. It lacks the fluidity and graceful quality of "dance" as opposed to "exercise". For this reason I could recommend it for people looking for a workout video but not for people looking for a dance practice companion.
The video ends with two performance segments featuring solos by Anaheed and Paulina, both wearing professional dance costumes, as follows:
The DVD edition also has three slides shows as "Special Features." The "Dance Tips" choice leads to a series of 11 slides with advice on warming up, where/how to practice, how to express the music, etc. The "About IAMED" choice leads to a series of 15 slides with background information about its founder Suzy Evans and the organization. The "About Belly Dance" choice leads to a series of 12 slides that provide a bit of historical information about belly dance, including its rise in the U.S. in the 20th century and its place in America today.
The overall production quality of the video is excellent. There is plenty of lighting to see what the instructor, workout leaders, and performers are doing, and the sound is always perfectly synchronized with the on-screen activity. Spoken instruction can easily be heard over background music at all times. The DVD authoring includes chapter breaks everywhere I want them, and the menu system is easy to use.
If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos featuring Paulina, choose from the list below:
Reviews of other videos produced by IAMED with other instructors and performers include the list below.
|I like several things about the beginner-level instruction in this video. Explanations are very clear, Paulina advises you on where to put your weight, she introduces variations for most of the moves taught, and she guides you in how to match arm movements to the dance moves. I don't think the workout segment is as strong as other belly dance workout videos on the market, but it's okay for exercise if you're not really aiming to drill yourself in graceful dance technique. If you're trying to choose between this video and its companions Arabian Sands and Enchanted Nile, I'd recommend starting with Desert Dreams because I like it the best of the three. All three are high quality instructional videos that teach well, though, and the moves each teaches are equally suitable for newcomers to belly dance.|
|:I have never had any contact with Paulina or Jindra. I have reviewed other videos produced by IAMED, and I received a complimentary copy from IAMED of the video used for this review.|
Contact IAMED as follows:
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