Weadirt Tohgor

A Video Review By Shira

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

On this video, Shareen el Safy teaches choreography to a song by Mohammed Abdel Wahab titled Weadirt Tohgor. She has been careful to keep the style very close to that used by dancers from the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema, and in particular performance clips of Samia Gamal have served as the source of many of the moves used.


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The Chart

Recommended Level Advanced
Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 154 minutes
Performance Time 5:21 minutes (3%)
Teaching Time 147:18 minutes (96%)
Amount Of "Other" 1:01 minutes (1%)
Choreography Yes
Cultural Information Yes
Music Education Yes
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price $50 for NTSC, $60 for PAL
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 33 cents for NTSC
39 cents for PAL
Cost For "Other" 9 cents

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On this video, Shareen el Safy teaches technique and a 5 1/2-minute choreography in the style of Oriental dance from the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema, the era of Tahia Carioca, Samia Gamal, Naima Akef, etc. Shareen worked as a dancer in Cairo herself in 1988 through 1991, and immersed herself at the time in analyzing the essence of Egyptian style dance. She has also studied video footage of Golden Age dancers to learn specific combinations that they used.

Shareen focuses particularly on moves and combinations used by Samia Gamal, but she also incorporates ideas from later dancers such as Mahmoud Reda, Nadia Gamal, Dina, Nagwa Fouad, and others. For her music, she uses the song Weadirt Tohgor ("You Are Able to Desert Me"), composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab, which is quite appropriate to the style of dance featured in this video. Due to the many challenging moves taught, this video would best be suited to an advanced-level dancer.

Shareen opens the video with a studio performance in full professional costume of the choreography which she will be teaching. Her performance is technically precise, but her stage presence is somewhat detached. (This is common for videos like this one in which there is no live audience to inspire the dancer.) This is the only performance on this video.

Following the performance, Shareen opens with a 6 1/2-minute discussion of the types of moves in Egyptian dance: Oriental versus folkloric, etc. She then takes about 13 minutes to describe in detail the appropriate posture for producing the distinctive look of Egyptian dance. Although this may seem like a large amount of time to spend on posture, Shareen states that it plays a major role in dancing like an Egyptian.

From here, Shareen plunges into the "meat" of the video: 2 hours of teaching the step combinations used in the choreography, with detailed background information about each combination. She introduces each by discussing which dancer she has seen do the move, compares how the Oriental version used in the choreography differs from its folkloric counterpart (where applicable), and demonstrates from more than one angle - usually front and back, but in some cases also from the side.

Shareen offers very detailed descriptions of the proper technique for executing each move in the style of an Egyptian. She talks about which muscles to use to produce the move, and how to direct your energy. People who want to acquire an Egyptian "accent" in the way they move will find plenty here to keep themselves busy. Quite busy.

Frequently, when delivering her explanations Shareen digresses and talks about a different topic, then brings herself back to the subject at hand. These digressions could be frustrating if you simply want the video to teach you the choreography itself, but they can be fascinating if your purpose in working with this video is to deepen your knowledge of Oriental dance from Egypt, including cultural and historical perspectives. Speaking for myself personally, I enjoyed it very much, but I have a passion for learning about the intellectual side of the dance as well as actually dancing. Your preference may be different.

I find myself able to learn the step combinations taught without too much difficulty. However, assembling them into the choreography is a different matter, because the video's structure doesn't lend itself very well to remembering what comes next. Shareen takes a section of the dance, teaches the combinations in it one at a time until they have all been taught, then leads a practice of that section. Then she puts it aside and teaches the next section similarly. She never practices putting the sections together until the very end. The packaging does not contain any choreography notes to help with memorization, no on-screen lists of the steps that are used in each section, and no on-screen titles announcing what to do next while going through the practice for the section. With the lengthy background explanations (that I like so much) accompanying each move, I find that by the time I learn one combination I've forgotten the earlier ones.

Shareen seems to be uncomfortable on camera, especially when she is explaining something with words instead of demonstrating a move. She frequently casts her eyes down or looks aside. This doesn't bother me, but people who prefer high-energy instructors might not appreciate her on-camera personality.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You have a strong interest in deepening your knowledge of Egyptian Oriental dance on an intellectual level - learning some of the differences between folkloric versus Oriental, discovering which moves were made famous by which dancers, etc.
  • You find it helpful when an instructor offers a detailed analysis of exactly how a move is created - which muscles are used to produce it, etc.
  • Your primary belly dance background is in one of the American styles, and you would be interested in developing more knowledge of Egyptian style.
  • You already have some introductory knowledge of classic Egyptian dance, and you're hungry to know more.
  • You would like to learn some Egyptian style step combinations that you can incorporate into your own dance.
  • You have a passion for studying dance technique.
  • You would appreciate an instructor who is full-figured rather than model-thin.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You can pick up Egyptian dance moves by studying videos of performances by the famous dancers, and don't really need someone's help in determining how to do those moves.
  • You don't have any interest in learning how certain artists and their signature moves fit into the evolution of Egyptian dance arts.
  • You want a video whose design is focused on helping you memorize a particular piece of choreography.
  • You simply want to learn a dance you can perform and you don't care about making it look Egyptian.
  • You're a beginner or an intermediate who would struggle with a video intended for advanced-level dancers.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Very informative.
  • Excellent study in Egyptian technique at a detailed level.
  • Excellent lighting and camera work, easy to see Shareen at all times.
  • Shareen demonstrates most of the combinations from multiple angles - front and back, and also sometimes side.
  • Detailed description of correct posture to achieve the Egyptian Oriental "look".

What I Didn't Like

  • Doesn't identify which CD contains the particular recording of this song used for this choreography.
  • I find myself able to learn the individual combinations, but Shareen presents them in a way that makes it somewhat difficult to know exactly what to do in the choreography.
  • Shareen has a button sewn to her unitard to make it obvious where her navel is. Although she has a valid reason for doing it which she explains, I find it somewhat distracting.

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In Conclusion

I enjoy this video very much, but it's not for everybody. It appeals to the intellectual side of my brain, the side of me that loves soaking up factual knowledge. Shareen offers many valuable insights into the technique of how Egyptian Oriental-style dancers produce the moves: which muscles to use, how to manage the energy flow, etc. But for people who just want to learn a choreography, this video probably isn't the right choice because the flow of the instruction isn't designed for that purpose.

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I have attended one workshop that Shareen taught, which I enjoyed, but I have not had the opportunity to become acquainted with her.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Shareen el Safy as follows:

Shareen el Safy
P.O. Box 900936
Santa Barbara, CA 93190-0936

Phone: (+1) (805) 962-9639
Web Site: www.shareenelsafy.com
E-Mail: mail@shareenelsafy.com

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