Contemporary Oriental Dance
Contemporary Oriental Dance Techniques Vol. 1 by Horacio Cifuentes
1986, , run time 75 minutes.
This VHS video tape is out of print; however, I've included this review as there are plenty of copies circulating among dancers, at shows and swap meets, or on eBay. There is apparently no direct replacement from Horacio.
This video (Was there ever a volume 2?) is aimed towards the intermediate/advanced level dancer - some of the moves, especially the layering, are advanced. As with other videos by Horacio, he starts with a very thorough warm-up, something I'd expect on a video of this type. He wears a dark blue and black practice costume - as the set is both rather dark and has a black background, visablity is sub-par.
Horacio goes over quite a few moves during this warm up, shimmies, hip circles, head and rib cage slides, camels, vibrations, then does most of these moves again with a shimmy and/or vibration. This lasts about 15 minutes.
He then proceeds directly to teaching a choreography. 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!
The first is "Golden Light". Horacio wears a very nice costume for this multi-part routine. The first part starts with Horacio dancing with gold Lamé 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 (not pleated). He sheds the wings for successive parts of the dance. Overall, a very nice performance, although too dark and quite hard to see at times. His arms and chest are draped in multiple strands of beads and sparkelies - I really liked this look. I'll be thinking about this one...
Then there's "White Magic". This is performed to a drum rythm only, which increases gradually in tempo. Horacio has what appears to be a white sheet draped over him, with a pair of Isis-wing control sticks. The only part of his body we can see are his calves and feet, which are in white leggings.
There is a lot of turning in this piece, and this one just didn't do it for me - I found it boring. It is mercifully short.
"Serpent" follows, Horacio is wearing white harems and white hip treatments, with a somewhat cheezy looking fake snake draped around one arm and part of his (mostly bare) chest. The white costuming is at least easy to see in the low light, and this dance is actually VERY nice - I enjoyed it.
He then does a very nice drum solo to live drumming by Reda Darwish. His costume was pretty nice, slightly Pharonic in look. Visablity wasn't quite as good as "Serpent" as the costume was darker.
Lastly, he goes all out with the Pharonic look/style with his "Tribute to King Tutankhamen". Full-up Pharonic headdress, bare chest with cool necklace, and white loincloth with front & rear skirt panels.
Pharonic isn't my thing, but it was well executed here and I enjoyed it. He dances with what at first appear to be hand candles, but the flame was too large to be candles; must have been small oil lamps of some kind. The dark set made some sense with the flames!
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!
This video was mercifully free from MTV-esq camera work - only a few cross fades during the performance segment, which is fine for a performance.
What I didn't like about the video:
This video is flat out too dark. The set lighting is marginal, the background is black, only when the costume is lighter is visability acceptable. But, at this writing, this video is 18 years old, I suspect this was one reason this particular video was discontinued.
Is it an instructional video or a performance video? The instruction was on the minimal side.
The video is VHS. It was also released in 1986 and is no longer made. I don't even think DVDs had been invented yet in 1986! 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.