Healing Dance (VHS Tape Edition) with Tahya

A Video Review By Shira

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This review refers to the VHS tape edition of this video, which was released in 2002, and does not apply to the DVD edition of this video, which was released in 2005. The VHS tape edition has been discontinued. This review remains online as a reference for people who may be considering purchasing a used copy of this tape.

When Tahya created the DVD edition, she expanded the instructional section. A review for the DVD edition appears separately here on this web site.

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

Aimed at women who have had breast surgery, this video encourages them to try Oriental dance (belly dancing) as a path to physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Although there is an instructional section, the focus is on providing encouragement and affirmation, not dance technique. It also includes an inspiring performance by a breast cancer survivor.

Why I gave it 3 stars:

  • Although there's not much dance instruction on this video, the encouragement and affirmation it provides are likely to be uplifting for some cancer patients.
  • I was disappointed with the production quality: the lighting, sound, and camera work. It's better than many dance videos I've seen, but not great.

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The Chart

Recommended Level Novice
Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 44:07 minutes
Performance Time 6:18 minutes (14%)
Teaching Time 22:48 minutes (52%)
Amount Of "Other" 15:01 minutes (34%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price $19.95
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 69 cents
Cost For "Other" $6.78

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I wouldn't describe this as a belly dance instructional video, even though it does teach a couple of moves. Instead, I view it as an inspirational video, designed to provide encouragement to women who have had breast surgery or other devastating physical conditions. Tahya's demeanor on this video is warm, caring, encouraging, and supportive. Her experience in helping cancer patients discover the benefits of Oriental dance has led her to work with health care professionals to learn how to structure her courses to address their special needs, and now she offers courses in her community especially designed for this group.

Some of the music on this video is performed by Desert Wind (which specializes in New Age intepretations of Middle Eastern rhythms) and some comes from Tahya's CD titled Meditations.

The video opens with a dance performance to a song called "Desert Breeze" from Desert Wind's World Dance CD. The dance is about 3 1/2 minutes long with opening comments done as voiceover. The performance is extremely difficult to see because of the mood lighting. It begins with veil work, then moves on to other moves. I particularly noticed Tahya's graceful hands.

Next is a section about 3 1/2 minutes long in which Tahya describes what the video will be about. She provides advisory comments on gradually extending the range of arm movement for people who are still healing from surgery.

From there, the video switches to a conversation between two of Tahya's students, Jean and Monica. This was probably my favorite section of the video. Both are breast cancer survivors. They discuss what prompted them to try Oriental dance, and talk about how it helped them in their recovery, particularly from an emotional perspective. Both women are wearing belly dance costumes that are suitable for their post-surgery figures. This section may be inspirational for breast cancer patients who are tempted to try Oriental dance but would first like to hear about the experiences others have had with it.

The 23-minute instructional section comes next on the tape. While the visual shows rippling waves of water, Tahya's voiceover leads a visualization/meditation exercise.

Eventually the scene transitions to show Tahya herself, and she moves into teaching a yoga position called the Stargazer. Her explanation shows different ways to hold your arms, depending on your current flexibility, as well as suggesting what to build up to over time. I was a bit frustrated in this section because she talked about where to place the feet, but the camera never showed me.

Next Tahya teaches the yoga pose called Little Dancer. While drums beat a meditative rhythm in the background, she explains and demonstrates the move. I found the drumming pleasant, but its volume probably should have been a little software because it interfered with my ability to hear what Tahya was saying. At one point, there was also some irritating background noise that sounded like microphone feedback.

The first belly dance move that Tahya covers is shoulder rolls, and she incorporated visualization technique. She talked about how the hands and eyes can lead the entire focus. It was nice that she encouraged the viewer to try the moves, but work at their own pace. For someone recovering from surgery, this low-pressure approach would probably be more soothing than a video that doesn't factor in the patient's limited range of motion.

The final move taught was wrist forward and back. Tahya showed how to use wrist movements to produce graceful hand motions, beginning with positions that would be possible for someone who recently had breast surgery, then showing how to progress to a wider range of motion. Tahya's hands were very graceful.

The next section was a veil work performance by Jean that lasted about 3 minutes. I wished the camera had spent less time doing close-ups of Jean's face because I wanted to see her dancing. At age 60, Jean provided a nice role model for other older women recovering from cancer by showing that it is possible to remain feminine and graceful even after surgery. Jean wore an attractive costume that showed that you don't need to display cleavage to be credible as a belly dancer. Jean's skill level is not that of a professional belly dancer, but her sincerity and joy in the dancing made her appealing to watch nonetheless. It was interesting that she chose veil work for her performance, because veil work demands strength and range of motion in the arms. Some cancer survivors are likely to view her as an inspiration and a role model.

Next Tahya makes a few more comments, then the scene switches to show Tahya softly playing a frame drum while Monica narrates a poem about dance written by Rumi and does a low-key dance. Monica's dance does not come across as a performance; rather, as an interpretation of the poem. This section is about 2 minutes long.

The video ends with about a minute of closing credits.

You're likely to enjoy this video if:

  • You're recovering from a catastrophic medical problem such as breast surgery or Lyme disease and now you're looking for a source of encouragement and affirmation to help your morale.
  • You'd like to see a couple of examples of attractive covered-look costumes worn by belly dancers who are also breast cancer survivors.
  • You're interested in hearing the thoughts of a couple of breast cancer survivors about how belly dancing has helped them heal not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.
  • You're an older dancer who would like to see a performance by a mature woman.
  • You're recovering from breast surgery or other condition that limits your range of motion in your arms and you'd like to use a video to guide you through some simple exercises that can help restore the range of motion in your arms as a supplement to your physical therapy sessions.

This video is probably not right for you if:

  • You're looking for a video focused on teaching belly dance technique that you can use to learn new moves or guide you through practice in the ones you already know.
  • You're not interested in a video that spends a significant portion of time on commentary and interviews.
  • You want a tape that will teach you to dance.
  • You'd be uncomfortable with a tape that contains a significant amount of New Age affirmations and visualizations.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • It provides encouragement to breast cancer patients to nurture their souls through dance.
  • Jean (one of the breast cancer survivors featured on the tape) can serve as a role model for older women who may be interested in belly dancing.
  • It was nice to see two of Tahya's students (both of whom are breast cancer survivors) prominently featured on this tape. It made me feel that Tahya must be a generous and caring instructor.
  • Tahya taught a couple of moves that would be feasible for someone recovering from breast surgery.
  • Jean and Monica both wore belly dance costumes that could inspire cancer survivors who prefer not to wear the bare-midriff look that most people associate with belly dancing.

What I Didn't Like

  • The video was too dark. It needed better lighting.
  • In the instructional section, Tahya wore dark clothing which blended into the background behind her. This often made it hard to see what she was doing.
  • During both Tahya's teaching and Jean's performance, the camera focused too much time on close-ups of faces and failed to show what the dancer's body was doing.
  • At times, the sound quality was bad, including microphone feedback.

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Movements Included

  • Yoga Moves: 2 moves (stargazer, little dancer)
  • Arms: 2 moves (shoulder rolls, wrist undulations)

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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

  • Healing Dance (DVD edition, issued as a replacement to this one, includes new material)

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In Conclusion

This video is not for everybody. If you feel emotionally and spiritually battered from your experience with breast cancer surgery and the follow-on treatments, the contents of this tape may bring a little healing to your soul, give you hope, and introduce you to a dance form that may help you start to feel feminine again. But if you're looking for a video that is packed with dance moves to use for practice or expanding your repertoire, this isn't the right one for you.

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Tahya and I have exchanged e-mails in the past on the subject of belly dance for breast cancer patients, and we also linked to each other's web sites. She sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Tahya as follows:

P.O. Box 56
Coplay, PA 18037-0056

Phone: (+1) (610) 776-7045
Web Site: http://www.tahya.com/
E-Mail: tahya@tahya.com

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