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Overall Rating: (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)
This video is designed to perform two functions. About 2/3 of it focuses on instruction in technique for doing belly dance moves, and the rest leads an energetic aerobic workout suitable for building cardio-vascular health and burning fat. Suzanna designed it for intermediate- and advanced-level dancers who are already somewhat fit. I fiercely wanted to give this video 5 stars because Suzanna's instruction was excellent and the workout varied enough to be interesting, but I couldn't ignore the poor sound quality of the final 30 minutes.
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|Recommended Level||Intermediate or Advanced|
|Formats Available||NTSC, PAL, SECAM|
|Total Video Length||89:58 minutes|
|Workout Time||34:23 minutes (38%)|
|Teaching Time||50:15 minutes (56%)|
|Amount Of "Other"||5:20 minutes (6%)|
|Number Of Models||1|
|Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time||53 cents|
|Cost For "Other"||$2.70|
Released in 1993, this video consists of two main portions:
Suzanna has designed the video for intermediate and advanced belly dancers to use for either practice or aerobic fitness workout. It could also be an option for a member of "the general public" who has previously mastered the moves used on other belly dance fitness videos aimed at people without prior belly dance experience.
The video opens with Suzanna offering a series of guidelines on how to derive the most benefit from it. For example, she explains that when she says to do something on the "left", she herself will do it on the right to serve as a mirror. In this section, each guideline appears as text on the screen to reinforce the message. The guidelines are explained using voiceover while Desert Wind music plays very softly in the background. The music is just loud enough to add mood to the video, and it is always easy to hear Suzanna's voice over it.
In the instructional section, she teaches the moves that will be used later for the workout. In this section, there is neither background music nor drumming. On screen, Suzanna demonstrates each move while voiceover explains what to do. Once again, the sound quality is excellent and the explanations are easy to hear. An on-screen title introduces each move, which can be rather valuable when fast-forwarding to work with a particular section. Suzanna begins this section wearing just a leotard and tights. Eventually, she adds a hip belt. I would have preferred that she use a belt or hip scarf all the way through, because the horizontal line at the hips would have helped illustrate the angle of the hips being used for some moves.
In her explanations, Suzanna frequently uses the names of specific muscles and bones to describe how to do the moves. This posed a bit of a problem for me, because I have never had any kind of anatomy or physiology class. While I knew she was talking about the breastbone when she mentioned the sternum, there were other times when I was not familiar with the term she used, and therefore I wasn't sure what she meant. I admire the obvious dedication Suzanne has shown to learning about physiology and I appreciate her sharing this knowledge through advice about correct technique. But it might have been easier for me to follow certain explanations if she had included a definition of which body part she meant when describing what a particular muscle should be doing at a particular time.
For each move, Suzanna provides a clear explanation of how to do it, warns of pitfalls to avoid, clarifies correct technique, and demonstrates from multiple angles. Even the explanations of simple moves such as hip circles are valuable for more experienced dancers, because of the advice on proper technique and errors to avoid.
Following the instruction section, the scene changes slightly and Suzanna is in a different room. In this section, the use of voiceover ends. Instead, Suzanna speaks directly to the camera on-screen. Unfortunately, her voice echoes a little, resulting in a degradation of sound quality. She leads a few stretches which I might be able to match in my most imaginative dreams, and then begins the 30-minute workout. Throughout the workout, music plays in the background and Suzanna states which move to do next. This routine definitely offers an aerobic workout that will stimulate circulation, oxygenize the muscles, and burn calories. A dancer who is fit enough to do a continuous half-hour performance at her regular nightclub gig will be able to follow along comfortably, but someone who can barely sustain 10 minutes of continuous movement will find it quite challenging. I was extremely impressed that Suzanna was able to talk at the same time she was doing the moves! I appreciated her matter-of-fact speaking style, telling me what I need to know without annoying perkiness or phony encouragement.
The music chosen by Suzanna consists of artists including Desert Wind (see my review of Kali Ma by Desert Wind for some MP3 sound clips from one of the CD's she used) who use Middle Eastern rhythms but add a New Age flavor through the use of synthesizers. Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor for the workout section. The music sounds fine for a little while, then hits a brief blur where the volume momentarily fades and the sound seems somewhat distorted. It comes back to normal, then once again blips. I found this distracting and frustrating. It wouldn't prevent me from using what is otherwise an excellent workout, but it detracts from my ability to enjoy it. On a more positive note, the volume of the music is always kept low enough to easily hear Suzanna's spoken instructions on what to do next.
The video ends with closing credits. There is no performance on this video, which disappointed me because I love to watch Suzanna dance.
If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Suzanna Del Vecchio, choose from the list below:
I highly recommend this one, despite my complaints about the sound quality in the final 30 minutes. Most belly dancers (including me) learned how to dance from people who didn't necessarily understand exercise physiology well enough to practice and teach proper technique. Technique is important for minimizing risk of injury and maximizing effectiveness of the moves. This video offers us the opportunity to learn from someone who has studied physiology and applies that knowledge to our dance form.
If you have already mastered basic belly dancing moves such as hip circles, rib cage undulations, and some traveling steps, then you'll find this video useful for polishing your technique, learning additional moves, building those fundamentals into some combinations, and exercising a vigorous low-impact workout that is easy on the joints but energetic enough to drive up your metabolism and burn calories. More experienced dancers will find Suzanna's knowledge of physiology helpful in learning the optimal way to do each move for minimizing injury and maximizing the benefit gained.
If you teach belly dancing, you'll find that Suzanna's explanations may be helpful in describing the moves to your own students. Every belly dance teacher should spend time working with this video to correct her own bad habits, learn how to explain things clearly, and discover what errors to watch for in her students so she can correct them.
Some people might not care for the New Age flavor of the music chosen for the 30-minute workout, but I enjoyed it.
|I have spoken briefly with Suzanna when seeing her vending at dance festivals, and we have exchanged links to each other's web sites. However, we've never had an opportunity to become better acquainted. I purchased this video from a vendor - it was not sent to me as a complimentary review copy.|
Contact Suzanna Del Vecchio as follows:
P.O. Box 61383
Phone: (+1) (303) 399-2622
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