Spins and Turns with Marguerite
Spins and Turns with Marguerite by Marguerite & IAMED
Overall Zorba Rating:
Shira's poll page for this video.
2003, region free , run time 85 minutes.
Marguerite teaches spins, turns, appropriate armwork, and spins with veil in this International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED) release. I would consider it a beginning level video, although it does include some more advanced technique.
The video starts with the expected IAMED frontispiece, and then plays a brief promo for "IAMED, Producers of the best Belly Dance videos in the world." The frontispiece is fine, but I find myself moderately annoyed with this promo, just like I do with promos or previews in commercial movie DVDs.
As you'd expect from an outfit with such high falutin' self promotion, production values are very high. Excellent lighting, costuming, sound, stage, camerawork, etc. Although this particular video is obviously transcribed from an earlier VHS release, the DVD is well chapterized.
The actual instruction begins with a rather lengthy warmup. I'm always of two minds when a warmup is included in an instructional video. On one hand, we all know the value of a good warmup (especially as we grow older ), and Marguerite's is not only a very good one, but she explains the hows and whys very well. On the other hand, most dancers know how to warm their particular body up, and the time could be better spent on actual instruction. Take your pick. As this is mostly basic dance skills being taught here, the inclusion of the warmup is probably a good idea overall.
Marguerite makes the good suggestion to videotape ourselves if possible to see how these moves look on us so we can make adjustments. Each technique is also briefly shown in an excerpt from a fully costumed performance so we can see how its supposed to look with full accouterments.
The basic turns she teaches are: step turn, pivot (or paddle) turn, and relevé. Curiously missing from this section is the chainé turn, which is usually one of the very first turns taught to a beginning dancer.
Her teaching technique here is superb. She goes over each turn in turn (sorry! ) in complete and very slow detail, and speeds it up. She gives useful advice on how to keep from bouncing and keep it graceful.
In the next section, she teaches the barrel turn. Curiously, she teaches this before she teaches spotting (which helps with barrel turns and is usually taught with the chainé turn.). As this is a difficult turn to master, she goes over it in some detail, including the time honored "anchor the top of your head on a wall and turn" technique.
Then she teaches spotting. Her spotting technique is totally different from what I learned and lacks the characteristic head whipping associated with the spotting most dancers do - she later refers to it as "internal spotting". Beyond that, I'm not qualified to judge on its applicability or usefulness as I've never seen it before. Like the rest of her instruction, it is very clear and well demonstrated. She even shows us how to spot the ceiling!
During the ceiling spotting segment, she gives the very good advice not to try to stop suddenly from a fast spin, but to slow down to a stop (until we're used to spinning and can gradually try it). I'm so glad she tells us this - I learned this the hard way, with the exact results she predicts here!
After the turns are finished, she starts an entire segment on arms, and what to do with them during various types of spins and turns. As far as this reviewer is concerned, this section is GOLD. Arms are utterly the hardest part of our dance, kudos to Marguerite for including a "this armwork works well with what I just taught you" section!
Sections on level changes and spinning with veils are next and are well taught. The last section is on "specialized turns", and includes: head flip turn, and traveling turn (again, the chainé turn is curiously missing.). Her traveling turn is most definitely non-trivial to learn or execute, being a combination of the step turn, head flip turn, her "internal" spotting technique, and traveling. I'm impressed! This section ends with how braiding a large tassel into our hair can increase the visual interest of the head flip turn and/or traveling turn.
Next she has a show and tell section regarding shoes and how differing soles interact with different surfaces - a useful and welcome touch. I would have liked to have seen some discussion on how to spin in heels as a number of the shoes shown are high heels. Back in the part where she teaches the relevé, she alludes to the fact that that particular movement will help prepare the dancer for heels, but doesn't expound beyond that. As I'm a male, and clumsy besides, I don't have to worry about it - heels sound like the fastest way to a broken ankle I can think of!
Two short performances, in nice costumes, round out the video portion of the DVD. If presented as stand alone performances, they'd probably be a bit boring, as Marguerite mostly spins in them - but in context of this video, they're a welcome addition. No MTV style effects - THANK YOU IAMED!
Actually, there's one more video section - the closing credits. The closing credits include outtakes from the production - I find this a really cool touch, they're hilarious, as outtakes tend to be!
Back at the main menu, there are three text sections, "Dance tips", "About IAMED", and "About Belly Dance". The first, "Dance tips" is a useful section, especially for beginning dancers, the second, although somewhat self-serving, does give a nice capsule history of the IAMED organization. The third, "About Belly Dance", unfortunately is a history of the dance that has been repudiated by most credible authorities on the subject. I won't "go there".
What I liked about this video:
Marguerite's exacting and clear instruction on a subject that is often glossed over. She's very safety conscious, and cautions us as needed throughout the video both on safety issues, as well as ascetic values; such as arms. High production values are always an asset, the camerawork is first rate, you can see and hear everything.
Its on DVD.
What I didn't like about this video:
Its not so much what I didn't like, its more what I feel was missing. Although proper posture is emphasized at the beginning of the video, nothing is said about a tucked pelvis being paramount to spinning balance. No pirouettes, or chainé turns, which are pretty elemental. I would have also liked to have seen something about holding one's place while spinning.
The price. IAMED videos may or may not be the BEST Belly Dance videos in the world, but they certainly are the MOST EXPENSIVE Belly Dance videos in the world! I know it takes big bucks to turn out a video of this quality, but I've seen videos of equal quality sell for less - sometimes a LOT less.
You can purchase this video from IAMED.