Bellydancing for Beginners
Bellydancing for Beginners by Cory Zamora
2005, (apparently region free), run time 62 minutes.
Shira's Poll page for this video.
Cory Zamora is a long time dancer and instructor in Fresno California who has produced several instructional videos. This one is, in my opinion, a bit mis-named. It really should be called "Belly Dance Hands and Arms", as this is what the video is about. However, it is suitable for beginning level dancers, or dancers of any level who want to brush up on their arms and hands. As arms and hands are often regarded as the hardest thing to get right in our dance, this video fills a definite need in the community.
Disclaimer: I've exchanged numerous emails with Ms. Zamora as she has taught several male dancers at her studio in Fresno, although I cannot claim to know her well. She sent me this video as an unsolicited gift - for which I thank her!
This video is a no-frills, no-nonsense, get the job done video. Accompanied by "Brothers of the Baladi" music, Cory gets right down to business. She starts with a brief performance, recorded "live" at what appears to be a restaurant. The performance is enjoyable, Cory wears a nice costume and dances well. This portion of the video is a bit on the dark side, but not objectionably so for a performance.
Then we get a personal greeting/explanation from Cory, and then she shows us her students and herself going through the hand/arm movements that we'll be studying. The camera slowly works its way through the students from a "front of the class" position - and refreshingly shows us a male student going through the exercise. As this is all about hands and arms, everyone is seated on the floor. The studio is well lit, and the sound quality is good. The exercise then repeats, this time everyone's playing zills (different session, the male has disappeared). This portion of the video is well lit.
The next session is just with Cory alone - she breaks down everything in sequence. This is the heart of the video. Her explanations are very clear, her hands and arms are beautiful, and she demonstrates in slow motion exactly what she's talking about. She is seated on the floor on a carpet in front of a hung sheet - not exactly a pro quality set, but I'll take it as it is well lit and she contrasts nicely with the background. I've seen "pro produced" videos that had beautiful sets, but were dark and/or had no contrast between the instructor and the background!
She then continues by demonstrating in a "follow along" segment with music. Cory encourages us with various comments - she makes us feel like we're in class with her. The "follow along" segment repeats a second time, this time Cory plays zills. She makes sure we understand that the zills are optional; if we don't want to play them, we can simply follow along with the movements a second time.
The last section is also only with Cory - this time adding all the arm/hand work to standing positions. After a brief introduction to the standing positions we'll be using, she once again goes through her choreography, playing zills. Lots of practice! The video ends with Cory going over the timing of her footwork. This brings the whole thing together, and shows us how an entire dance can be done that is mainly hands and arms, very little torso or footwork.
What I liked about this video:
Cory's clear instruction, good demonstrations, nice armwork, and good lighting so we can see what she's doing.
Although this is a beginning level video, I found it very apropos as Cory's technique meshes well with that of my own instructors. Her visualizations are very good, and helped me learn some new stuff I either hadn't seen before, or hadn't had presented to me as well. Good video!
Its a DVD! YAY!
What I didn't like about this video:
She goes a bit overboard with the verbal encouragement: "Good!", "Excellent!", "Very Good!" type comments. I realize she's trying to make the video feel like a live private class - and to a large extent she succeeds at this, but these comments would have worked better if they had been half (or less!) as many.
A little bit of "Monkey Cam", especially during the performance and "live in class" portions. The camera person likes to tilt the camera at a 45 degree angle. Far better than overused MTV effects we see on so many videos - its not bad, but I could have done without it.
Not enough chapterization. The performance at the beginning is one chapter, everything up to the standing demonstration is a second chapter, while the standing demonstration itself is a short third. I would have liked to have seen the "live in class" portion be one chapter, or even two - once without zills, once with. Then the slow breakdown be a separate chapter, then the "follow along" with music be the next chapter - and again perhaps this portion could have been two also - once without zills, once with. This would make it easier to "rewind" (which Cory encourages us to do) to find the exact portion desired.
Less "labeling confusion". The DVD bears a copyright date of 2004, the box, 2005, the opening credits, 2002. The box states it is 40 minutes long, I clocked 62, the WebSite says 65! This is, of course, a mere nit.
You can purchase this video from Cory's WebSite.