Art of Belly Dance: Enchanted Nile, by Paulina

A Video Review By Shira

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Summary

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

On this video produced by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED), Paulina teaches several elementary belly dance moves, then assembles them into a follow-me practice format. In addition, Jindra teaches a half-hour workout based on beginner-level belly dance moves. Amara and Paulina each then do a performance.

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 Art of Belly Dance Beyond Basics: Enchanted Nile, by Paulina?
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 March 2, 2005.

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The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice
Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 1:31:49 minutes (i.e., 91:49 minutes)
Performance Time 11:34 minutes (13%)
Teaching Time 43:59 minutes (48%)
Workout Time  31:41 minutes (34%)
Amount Of "Other" 4:35 minutes (5%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1 for instruction, 3 for workout
List Price $29.99
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching, Workout, & Performing Time 34 cents
Cost For "Other" $1.50

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Description

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 Amara. Like its companion videos, Art of Belly Dance - Arabian Sands and Art of Belly Dance - Desert Dreams, 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 others, and all 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 second 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:

  • Dance Posture. 1 minute. Covers all of the important points that I feel instructors should cover.
  • Hip Circles. 8 minutes. In addition to simple circles, includes circle and a half, then travels with that.
  • Egyptian Shimmy. 5 minutes. Pumping the knees.
  • Hip Lift. 9 minutes. Starts with hip lifts by themselves, then travels with step-lift.
  • Hip Snap. 7 minutes. It looks like a hip bump; however, from the way Paulina explains it (pumping the knees), it's hard to tell how it differs from the Egyptian shimmy. Teaches single, double, then traveling with each.
  • Sway Arms. 7 minutes. Sways hands, does shoulder rolls, adds to hips.
  • Head Slides. 4 ½ minutes. Shows a couple of different arm positions to use in framing them.
  • Let's Belly Dance! (Follow Along). 2 minutes. This section pulls everything together. Paulina leads a 2-minute run-through of the moves that have been taught, accompanying them with the arm positions. Only music accompanies this, there is no spoken or onscreen cueing. It doesn't really need cueing, though, because it moves slowly enough and contains enough repetition that anyone who has mastered the previous sections should be able to figure it out.

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.

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.

The music for the instruction is very soft as background. It consists of a number of widely-used Middle Eastern songs that I enjoy, such as Ya Mustafa, Misirlou, and Erev Shel Shoshanim.

Following the instruction, Jindra Payne leads a 31 ½-minute workout with the help of two fitness models, Laura Peterson and Clarissa Manansala. 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 6 minutes of stretches, pliés, and lunges, so because of those stretches I'd advise warming up on your own before beginning to follow along, though if you do it immediately after Paulina's instruction you're probably warmed up enough. (Current fitness "wisdom" is that stretches shouldn't be used for warm-ups, because stretching a cold body can cause injury.) The 23 minute main body of the workout consists of belly dance moves. It ends with a 3 minute cool-down that includes some stretches. The workout uses belly dance moves - some are moves that Paulina taught earlier, but most are introduced for the first time in this workout.

Jindra 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 and I'm comfortable with the format myself, but by the end some people might be tired of the first combination, so it just depends on what style of workout structure you prefer. Jindra's on-screen personality is pleasant, and she cues well.

One difference between this workout and the ones appearing on the companion videos is that the moves utilized in Enchanted Nile's workout don't overlap much with those that Paulina teaches. On Arabian Sands and Desert Dreams, the workouts are based mostly on the moves that are taught in the instructional section, allowing the workout to serve as both an exercise routine and a review. Some people will like the lesser overlap because they are exposed to more material as a result, while others may prefer the review. It's a question of what you prefer as a user.

I'm surprised Jindra calls this a cardio workout. Although it may raise the heart rate for a person who doesn't do much aerobic exercise, someone who exercises regularly probably wouldn't break a sweat. It contains some cardio elements such as jumps, shimmies, and twisting steps, but doesn't sustain them continuously enough to maintain the elevated heart rate. Just as the motor starts running, Jindra slows everything down to teach the next thing.

Generally speaking, the demonstration of the moves in the workout seems to have the rote flavor of a gym group workout class rather than the graceful flavor of a dance routine. Despite this, it has some merit because it teaches some moves not included in Paulina's instruction and it provides a structure to put individual belly dance moves together into a continuous flow.

There are two performance segments on this video, as follows:

  • Amara. 6 minutes. She performs raqs al assaya (cane dance) to music with strong Saidi flavor. This segment offers a taste of folkloric Egyptian music and dance, but Amara's dance style definitely contains some Americanized touches. Her on-screen personality comes across as pleasant.
  • Paulina. 5 ½ minutes. Although her music has a very Egyptian flavor, Paulina's dance style is a very Americanized interpretation. There are several things I really like about this performance. One is that Paulina incorporates a number of the moves that she taught into her choreography, allowing the person using the video to see how the dance moves they learned look in context. Another is her stage presence - her expression comes across as though she is genuinely enjoying the dance and responding to the music, and her energy reaches through the camera into my living room. All in all, the performance is an enjoyable complement to the instructional program.

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 production quality is excellent. The set is beautiful, it is always easy to hear the instructions and cues, there is plenty of light, the dancers contrast well with the background behind them, and the camera work generally shows what I want it to show.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You have never before taken a belly dance class.
  • You have never studied any type of dance before at all.
  • You prefer instruction that emphasizes mastery of one move before proceeding to the next.
  • You like instruction that provides a detailed explanation of exactly how to produce each move.
  • You feel that Middle Eastern music should be used when teaching belly dance.
  • You like videos that offer a framework for drilling the moves.
  • You like videos that repeat each move enough times that you don't need to rewind/review very much.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You are intermediate level or higher.
  • You prefer videos that teach a large number of moves with minimal time on each.
  • You tend to become impatient with detailed explanations.
  • You expect workouts based on dance moves to still be graceful rather than taking on the character of a gym aerobics class.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The video's structure includes a framework for putting moves together and practicing them.
  • Paulina is a skilled instructor.
  • The instructors' on-screen personalities are pleasant.
  • The instruction offers plenty of explanation.
  • Paulina shows moves from both front and side.
  • Paulina introduces arm moves that coordinate with the dance moves.
  • The cueing on the workout is helpful.
  • The production quality is excellent.
  • The credits identifies the music used, and I like the music.
  • Paulina's performance incorporates moves taught in the instructional segment.

What I Didn't Like

  • I don't care for the choreography in the workout segment.
  • The people leading the workout segment seem stiff and mechanical. It feels merely like an exercise routine, devoid of the graceful qualities I would expect from a workout based on dance.

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Movements Included

  • Hip Articulations: 5 moves (Egyptian shimmy, hip lift, hip snap (same as what Atéa calls hip bump) single, hip snap double)
  • Hip Fluid Moves: 2 moves (hip circle, hip circle and a half)
  • Traveling Steps: 4 moves (side-travel hip circle, step-hip, walk with single hip snap, walk with double hip snap)
  • Arms & Shoulders: 2 moves (sway arms, shoulder roll)
  • Head: 1 move (head slide)

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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.

Instructional:

Performance compilations:

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In Conclusion

This video is best suited to people who have never belly danced before at all, and want to move at a thoughtful pace, mastering and drilling each move before proceeding on to learn the next. It provides a structure for putting the moves together into a continuous flow in Paulina's "follow me" ending. It contains a large amount of material for a price that's within reach, yielding a significantly lower price per minute than the average instructional belly dance video. I definitely recommend the instruction for people who are just starting to learn to belly dance, but the workout part isn't as strong as other "belly dance as exercise" videos out there.

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Disclosures

Contact IAMED as follows:

IAMED
P.O. Box 7666
Van Nuys, CA 91409
U.S.A.

E-Mail: iamed@bellydance.org
Web Site: http://www.bellydance.org

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact IAMED as follows:

IAMED
P.O. Box 7666
Van Nuys, CA 91409
U.S.A.

E-Mail: iamed@bellydance.org
Web Site: http://www.bellydance.org

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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