Oriental Dance Techniques
Oriental Dance Techniques, the Basics by Horacio Cifuentes
1990, , run time 83 minutes.
This VHS video tape is out of print, having been superseded by Horacio's Basic Technique 1 (Basic Technique 2 is also available). However, I've included this review as there are plenty of copies circulating among dancers, at shows and swap meets, or on eBay.
This video is aimed towards the beginning level dancer - but has something for everyone! It starts with a Horacio (accompanied by Reda Darwish on drum) leading a very thorough warm-up, something I'd expect on a video of this type. I now know where one of my teachers got much of her warmup routine! However, Horacio manages to squeeze in a little teaching into his warm up - head and rib cage slides (to die for! ), hip circles and figure-8s, Maias and Gooshies.
He then proceeds to teach several additional moves, Egyptian Walk, Hip Drops/Lifts, Camel walk, etc. He is wearing a dark blue and black practice costume - good enough but slightly hard to see against the black background. He also is mostly facing the camera - preferences vary but I prefer to see a back-on view of the instructor most of the time unless s/he is showing something like stomach work or shoulder shimmies.
The next section finds Horacio teaching a choreography of the moves we just learned in the previous portion. Like other videos of his I've seen, he first shows the choreography in slow motion with him telling us each move in a voice over - an effective use of the video format. He then performs the choreography full speed to music - still in his practice costume.
Then the video makes an abrupt change in direction - the rest of it is a performance video! Although I do wish more time had been spent on teaching (as this video was sold as instruction), the performances alone are worth sharpening your bartering skills for!
First, we are treated to a Sword Dance performance. Horacio is now wearing a nice costume (rather androgynous - works well here), but it is somewhat difficult to see as it is black or near black in color, and so is the background. Its a bit difficult to see at times, although not as bad as it might sound from this description.
I was rather impressed with this dance - it gave me quite a few ideas for my own balancing dances (my Shemadan and my recently acquired tray) especially as it includes floorwork, including a roll over. At one point Horacio is lying on his belly, sword balanced on his head, and he arches his back so he has room to do snake arms!
He then continues to do a very nice drum solo piece, in the same costume, before he changes costumes to give us:
"Dance of the King Cobra". Wow. Cool. I wouldn't call this a Belly Dance per se, although it has many Belly Dance movements in it. Horacio's Ballet background shows clearly here as he imitates the dance's namesake wearing only a (gold Lamé?) loincloth and some very interesting face makeup. At last we have no problems with low contrast between the dancer and the background! The previous two performance dances had several crossfades in them, but this one also includes crossfades between the dancer and, you guessed it!, a King Cobra!
Lastly, Horacio performs a dance called "Ruby Nights" with, to my amazement, bright red Isis-type wings! I call them "Isis-type" as they're not quite the same as the pleated Lamé wings Ayshe and others have made popular. These are best described as one piece instead of two, like a very large half circle silk veil with sticks. Nice, very nice!
Although his wings are nice, and so is his dancing, the camera work goes way too MTV-esq for this piece. Entirely too many weird camera effects, and not enough of Horacio's wonderful dancing. This section is mercifully short.
What I liked about the video:
I've always been impressed with Horacio's dancing and teaching ability. He is incredibly flexible, smooth, graceful, with fantastic range of motion. He also avoids the masculinization we see all too often with male dancers (a pet peeve), his dancing is a joy!
What I didn't like about the video:
With the exception of the last two dances, the rest of the video is slightly too dark. Although the set is well lit, either the background, or the costume should have been different. Having seen some of Horacio's more recent videos that don't have this problem, I suspect this was one reason this particular video was superseded by a new one.
The camera work spoiled the last performance number.
The video is VHS. It was also released in 1990 and is no longer made. I don't even think DVDs had been invented yet in 1990! I think I'm going to try digitizing it before it is lost "forever".
This video is out of print, but you might be able to find it from time to time on eBay.