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A Review of

A-Z Bellydance

by Keti Sharif

 

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Summary

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

On this video, Keti Sharif teaches 26 different choreography fragments for use in dancing to Egyptian music. Each piece is based on the "rule of fours", meaning it uses four repetitions of four each, for a total of sixteen "parts". The video begins with several simple combinations suitable for beginning dancers, and proceeds to increasingly difficult ones as it progresses. A-Z Bellydance by Keti Sharif

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate A-Z Bellydance by Keti Sharif?
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 December 18, 2002.

Note: Shira has a policy against video producers asking their students, family, and friends to pad the votes, or campaigning for favorable votes through their web sites. Click here for detailed information about the policy.

 

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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter Step combinations for Egyptian-style dancers
Recommended Dance Skill Level Experienced beginner or higher
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 61:42 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 60:50 minutes (99%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 0:52 minutes (1%)
Choreography? No

 

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Description

The video comes with 32-page companion booklet at no additional cost. When buying it, verify that you'll be receiving both the book and video. If you're being offered the video only (which should happen only when you're buying a used copy, because new copies should always come with the book), you're receiving only part of the package Keti intended for you to have and I'd encourage you to either shop elsewhere or negotiate a lower price accordingly. For each of the 26 combinations, the book provides a written description of how to do it, including suggestions for the arms. In the very back, the book offers some excellent tips that don't appear on the video itself on how to choreograph a dance.

Although Keti's promotional material describes the content as 26 "routines", it's more accurate to refer to them as choreography building blocks - each a 16-count step combination. These are designed to be used either as combinations you can tap into when doing your own improvised dance or as elements of a finished choreography that you are creating. For the most part, the style of the moves is designed for the type of dance that arose during the 20th century in Egyptian nightclubs.

I like this video very much. It is filmed with professional lighting and sound quality, and the camera work almost always makes it easy to see what I want to see. I noticed only a couple of instances where I found myself grumbling about the camera showing me Keti's face when I wanted to see what her body was doing. Keti's step combinations capture the flavor of Egyptian dance quite well.

For each step combination, Keti first teaches the very basic footwork. Next she adds more complex footwork and hip movements. After demonstrating this, she adds arm movements that harmonize with the feet/hips and enhance the overall effect. When introducing the move, Keti works without background music and demonstrates it slowly. She demonstrates both how it looks from the front (as if you were the audience), and also from the back (so you can follow her). Once she has finished describing and demonstrating the combination, she dances it to suitable music to show how it looks at full speed.

  • Routines A-E (Basic). The video begins with five combinations designed for beginning-level dancers. Someone using video to study belly dancing could progress to this group of combinations after mastering a "basic moves" video or two for assistance in learning how to combine steps, hip lifts, figure 8's, and arm movements into dance.
  • Routines F-J (Folkloric). Although borrowed from traditional folkloric dances such as hagallah, these combinations can also be incorporated into a nightclub-style performance. Keti doesn't teach enough about any one particular folkloric form to construct a full-length dance in that form based on her moves, but her folkloric moves can enrich your understanding of Egypt's dance heritage.
  • Routines K-O (Taqsim/Slow and Emotive). As the title for this section says, these combinations are designed for slow, fluid music. They could be used with slow chiftetelli, rhumba/bolero, or even adapted for free-form instrumental solos. Although more complex than earlier combinations taught, the ones in this group are still based on reasonably simple moves such as hip circles and figure 8's, and would still probably be within reach of beginners who have mastered the earlier combinations on this video.
  • Routines P-T (Intermediate). Two of the combinations in this section have names like "Pharaonic" and "Queen" which suggest that they might be related to the dances of ancient Egypt, but they're really modern-day raqs sharqi. I expected another combination in this group, "Tanoura", to be based on the folkloric whirling dervishes because of its name, but this too is modern-day Oriental style. As the word "Intermediate" implies in the title of this section, these combinations are more complex than the ones at the beginning of the video, and a beginner working with this video would want to thoroughly master the earlier combinations before attempting the ones in this group.
  • Routines U-Z (Advanced). As the word "Advanced" in the title of this section implies, these are the most complex combinations on this video. They contain far less repetition than earlier combinations, and they employ a more advanced dance technique known as layering.

Following the above instruction in combinations, the video ends with a 3-minute "jam" section in which Keti leads a practice session using the combinations taught. As she dances, titles on the screen identify which combination she's doing so you can follow along. Before attempting this section, you would want to be careful to master the combinations and memorize exactly which name applies to each. Assuming you have done that, it should be reasonably easy to follow along.

 

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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If

  • You're a beginner who has been using "basic moves" videos to learn fundamentals such as how to do hip drops and circles, and now you'd like a "continuing education" video to help you experiment with ways to assemble these building blocks into a finished dance. This one begins with simple combinations, then progresses to more difficult ones later in the video, so you won't outgrow it right away.
  • You're a teacher, troupe director, or professional dancer who is looking for fresh step combinations to add new flavors to your own choreography.
  • You are seeking instruction in the Egyptian style of dancing, including moves that fit well with the different Egyptian variations such as baladi, raqs shaabi, nightclub, and others.
  • You would like assistance in learning how to combine arm movements with hip motions and steps.

This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • You're not interested in learning step combinations.
  • You prefer for your instructional videos to include a section showing performance in full costume.
  • You're looking for a video that emphasizes folkloric instruction. (Although this one includes some folkloric combinations, they're not the primary focus.)

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • This video is set in a studio with mirrors on two sides of Keti. Unfortunately, the camera is so far away from the mirrors that the mirror image of her is very tiny and not as easy to see as I might have preferred.
  • The video is grouped into several categories of combinations that fit logically together; for example, it includes a section of five combinations suitable for slow, undulating taqsim music. This makes it possible for someone using the video to study a group of combinations which work well together and can then be combined into her own dance.
  • The video opens with simple combinations suitable for beginners, then gradually builds to more difficult ones. It's not something that would be outgrown right away.
  • Keti demonstrates each move from both front and back.
  • Each move is introduced with an on-screen title identifying it, so that when fast-forwarding through the video looking for a particular move it's easy to find the right place.
  • Both the companion book and the back cover of the video list the combinations in order, making it easy to identify how far into the video you need to look in order to find the group of moves that you want to study.
  • Keti wears exercise clothes throughout the video. Her leggings and bare feet make it easy to see what her legs and feet are doing. At times, she switches to different clothing, which pleasantly varies the visual impact.
  • A choreographer who employs Keti's combinations will find it easy to create choreography notes identifying what to do. Instead of writing many lines of text on what to do with hips, feet, and arms, a choreographer can merely state, "Do the Delta [or whatever] combination".

What I Didn't Like:

  • I would have preferred that the camera zoom in a little closer to Keti when she is teaching the combinations. It tends to maintain an angle where the top 1/3 of the screen is just empty space, leaving it difficult at times to discern subtle details of what Keti is teaching.
  • At times, Keti wears black exercise clothing, which blends too much into some dark items on the set behind her. This makes it difficult at times to distinguish her movement from the background.
  • During the "Jam" session, the camera zooms in for close-ups of Keti's face more often than I would prefer. I had not yet memorized each of the combinations when working with this section, so seeing the title on the screen wasn't sufficient - I needed to see what her body and arms were doing, too.

 

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In Conclusion

I enjoyed this video very much. As a continuing education video, it can help beginning dancers learn how to assemble individual moves into groups that can be used as the building blocks for dancing, and it progresses gradually from easiest moves to more complex ones. It's a video that a beginner wouldn't outgrow right away. For more experienced dancers, it can offer new sources of inspiration for creating choreography or injecting new step combinations into improvisational dancing.

 

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Reviews of Other Videos By This Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Keti Sharif, choose from the lists below.

Instructional Videos:

Workout Videos:

Opinion Polls

 

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Disclosure

Keti has sent me several of her products to review here on my web site, including this video. We also had an opportunity to meet in person on one of my trips to Egypt.

 

Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

To Buy It

Phone: (+61) 412747447
Web Site: www.ketisharif.com
E-Mail: keti@iinet.net.au

Or, purchase from Keti's U.S. distributor at:

International Dance Discovery
PO Box 893
Bloomington, IN 47402-0893

Phone: (+1) 812-330-1831

Web Site: www.allaboutbellydance.com

 

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