Zorba, Male Belly Dancer

Henna Design Shemadan Videos Henna Design

The Art of Sword and Shamadan by Princess Farhana

Zorba Rating: Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Half solid, half ghost Zill Picture

Link opens in new window Shira's review page for this video.

2003. VHS Logo DVD Logo, run time 46 minutes.

Farhana's Shemadan Video
This is the only one of the three where the instructor actually talks to you for a bit, and gives you tips about swords and Shemadans. The teaching portion does mostly concentrate on the sword, although she does indicates how to change the choreography she teaches (adaptable to various music) to make it suitable for the Shemadan. She includes true floorwork in her instruction. Well produced, well edited, well lit.

Farhana does a short Shemadan performance in costume at the end which is quite nice, although the MTV-esq camera work is a bit distracting for those of us who want to see exactly what she is doing. Her Shemadan is spectacular, lots of swags and ornamentation on it.

Again, her video is more slanted towards the sword. In the "talk to the student" portion, she gives a number of tricks about both sword and Shemadan. During the teaching portion, she uses a sword exclusively, with either text or her telling us directly any necessary changes to the choreography to accomodate a Shemadan (or a candle tray). Only in the short performance at the end do we see anything actualy done with a Shemadan - no sword here.

In short, her video is at least as good for the sword as it is for the Shemadan. As to a large extent, balancing is balancing is balancing, and as she takes care to point out the differences (such as skipping balancing on the shoulder or chest if you're doing Shemadan!), it should work well to learn either or both.

What I liked about the video:

Well edited, well lit, good sound quality. We can see what Farhana is doing. She demonstrates rudimentary floorwork while balancing. The major sections are well marked for finding or re-finding with your VCR. She includes a performance at the end in a nice costume. She obviously knows her stuff. I liked the "talk to the student" giving various tips for both swords and Shemadans; this made it more like actually being in a classroom with Farhana.

Its now available on DVD! YAY!

What I didn't like about the video:

The performance has unfortunate MTV-esq camera work. Zooms are sometimes too close and there are frequent cross fades from one shot to the next. Great if you're looking for entertainment, not so good if you're trying to learn or get ideas.

Farhana is facing the camera for most of the instructional portion of the video. Most of us are used to standing behind our instructors. For the subject matter presented however, not a major detriment.

She goes through a warm up on the tape - I certainly believe in warm ups, but on a speciality video like this I would assume the student already knows about this and we can skip to the heart of the subject at hand. This said, her warmup is a good one!

You can purchase this video from Farhana's Link opens in new window WebSite.

Schamadan by Horacio Cifuentes

Zorba Rating: Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture

2002, VHS Logo, run time 50 minutes.

Horacio's Shemadan Video
Horacio teaches a specific choreography to a specific piece of music (on one of his albums, of course). If this is what you're after, this is the video to buy as you can most definately learn his choreography. He starts by walking through the choreography, explaining and demonstrating each move as he goes.

Then he dances through the choreography in slow motion with voice-over explainations of what he's doing - an effective use of video. Then the dance through the choreography is done at full speed, but this time he plays zills with on-screen zill patterns. This is the only video of the three which includes anything to do with zills; and although there's no true floorwork, he does a small amount of kneeling moves at one point. The instructional part is filmed in front of a mirror so you see all sides of Horacio at all times.

Horacio then performs the choreography in costume while balancing a candle laden tray (instead of a Shemadan, due no doubt to the feminine origin of this dance. As it's the same skill set, it's effective and enjoyable.).

What I liked about the video:

Like Farhana's, this video is well edited, well lit, and has good sound quality. I like the fact that he's instructing in front of a mirror, and we're mostly viewing his backside - just like being in class and what most dancers are used to.

He makes very effective use of the video format with the voice overs and the on-screen zills patterns. I also like the fact he does include Zills. A personal prejudice - I like his dancing! He doesn't masculinize his dancing (a pet peeve regarding many male dancers).

What I didn't like about the video:

While instructing, I do wish Horacio had done a bit more to enhance his hips - as a male dancer I'm all too painfully aware of my narrow hips and try to enhance them. I guess I'm too used to easy to follow female hips! Don't get me wrong, you can definately see what he's doing; just would have been slightly easier if he'd tucked a veil at the hips or something. A nit.

No floorwork. Shemadan dancing traditionally includes it.

The video is VHS. This isn't Horacio's fault as technology moves very quickly, and DVD players have rocketed down in price faster than anyone would have expected. If the video were re-released today, I'd expect it to be on DVD.

You can purchase this video from Link opens in new window Dahlal International.

Shamaadan with Aida Nour by Aida Nour

Zorba Rating: Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Solid Zill Picture Ghost Zill Picture Ghost Zill Picture

2004, VHS Logo, run time approx 120 minutes.

Aida Nour's Shemadan Video
The third video is Aida Nour's. This one is a bit different from the other two. It is essentially a video taping of a pair of her Shemadan workshops in a Cairo hotel meeting room, with only rudimentary camerawork and essentially no editing. Video quality is sub-par, a bit noisy (at least on my copy). The camera man does a reasonably good job following the action, and the sound, while acceptable, is only what the mic on the camera was able to pick up (Which includes music from the room next door vaguely heard during silent intervals!). The video is well lit.

If you accept the conditions in which the video was made, you probably won't be disappointed in it. Aida is well worth watching for her precise dancing. Like Horacio, she teaches a specific choreography to a specific piece of music (and doesn't do true floorwork). Like Farhana, she's facing the camera most of the time, and there are no mirrors.

Aida does perform her choreography at the beginning of the first (of the two) workshops, but not in costume.

What I liked about the video:

I liked it because you can get lots of ideas for your own dance, and Aida goes over things again and again - just like being in the workshop with her. I also feel Aida is well worth watching.

It's also rather long, pushing 2 hours, and only $34 delivered; so it has a good bang for the buck factor.

The fact that it was taped "live" at a pair of her workshops, with minimal editing means we get to see everything that happened during the workshops - some of them are amusing!

What I didn't like about the video:

As above, sub-par video quality (although the titles and credits are first rate), but I wouldn't call it abysmal. Definately viewable and well lit. My chief gripe is that Aida needs a hip scarf, she's wearing black sweat pants with a black top in the first workshop, hard enough to follow in person, on video it's even harder. For the second workshop, she has a dark green top which is slightly better. Although she performs her choreography at the very beginning of the video, it isn't in costume.

Essentially no editing. I think there is 1, maybe 2 cuts in the entire video so we are treated to things like Aida stopping to adjust several students' Shemadans, the camera man clearing his throat a few times, Aida handing a Shemadan to some guy to do something with it, students removing, adjusting, and otherwise fiddling with their Shemadans, some guy ducking in front of the camera at one point, etc.

No structured teaching. Her teaching (what we can hear of it) is fine for a live workshop - but it doesn't translate well to video. I feel this video would be best for someone who was actually at one of Aida's live workshops.

No floorwork. Shemadan dancing traditionally includes it.

The video is VHS. It is dated 2004. I'd expect a DVD release for a video this new.

You can purchase this video from Link opens in new window Dahlal International.

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