I love Turkish Belly Dance
I love Turkish Belly Dance by Sarah Skinner
Overall Zorba Rating:
Shira's poll page for this video.
2006, apparently region free , run time 80 minutes.
Well known Belly Dancer and Belly Dance photographer Sarah Skinner teaches Turkish style Belly Dance in this World Dance New York release.
Disclaimer: This DVD was released to a storm of controversy on various on-line Belly Dance discussion boards. The controversy was mainly about whether or not Sarah's video and the large amount of skirtwork involved was or was not truly "Turkish" style Belly Dance. As I'm not a dance ethnologist, nor an expert in such matters; I'll leave such discussions to my betters and concentrate on the matter at hand: Does this video do a good job of teaching its subject matter - regardless of what its called?
As World Dance New York videos tend to be, this one's production values are very high. Well lit (mostly), well edited, and good sound.
The DVD starts with a seated Sarah in a gorgeous skirt telling us a bit of her background and the development of Turkish style Belly Dance. She tells us about the music used in the two choreographies she'll be teaching - and even more importantly what the music is about! I like this feature.
The next session has Sarah seated on a rug with various costume bits telling us about appropriate costuming for Turkish style. She contrasts Turkish costuming with Egyptian, and a briefly shows how each looks/moves on the dancer. As she proceeds through the various pieces of costuming, I found myself having a typical Belly Dancer reaction: A kind of dazed stare with drool coming out of one corner of my mouth as I looked at all these glitzy, sparkly goodies!
After showing/discussing a variety of belts, she then moves on to bras and construction considerations for same. I actually picked up an idea I want to try on one of my belts to make it fit better! Her discussion on making sleeves I found useful as well, especially in light of my recent sewing machine purchase.
A discussion on various types of skirts is next. Male dancers who might be brave enough to try a bit of skirtwork (at least in class or in practice) can learn quite a bit here - but she doesn't tell us that big full skirts are also hot; literally, not in the slang sense. A skirt would even be hotter if an underskirt is worn as she demonstrates at one point.
A brief dissertation about various types of sandals and shoes, heeled or not, finishes up this segment. Sarah also points out that barefoot is a perfectly acceptable option!
The performance segments come next. Sarah first does a very nice veil number (which I found inspirational for my own veilwork), then a tsiftetelli taqsim (with floorwork!). Although the tsiftetelli performance is wonderful in execution (and very passionate), I would have liked to have had a bit more light here - its hard to see Sarah at times. I also found the presence of a dim blue stage light distracting.
Next, we are treated to one of the best drum solos its ever been my pleasure to watch - starting out very slow and taqsim like, and building from there. There are three (male) live drummers Sarah dances next to/in front of. Kudos to the sound crew on this video - you can hear every tinkle of her costume! I particularly like this drum solo as it is atypical of its genre in that Sarah is able to use a lot of round, flowing movements in it - not your typical drum solo fare. As I'm a "round, flowing" style of dancer myself, I'd never seen or thought of these movements in a drum solo before. Inspiration!
Confusingly, however, the performance segments play at this point in the DVD, yet they appear near the end in the main menu. The DVD doesn't play in the order the menu shows.
Now the instruction begins with the first of the two choreographies, this one set to the Turkish/Armenian tune Rompi-Rompi (which I'm very familiar with due to my Greek dance background dancing Tamsara to this tune). First is Sarah's "demonstration" (AKA "performance") in full costume - very enjoyable and clear. She shows us good use of the 9/8 rhythm, with lots of skirtwork. As the demonstration advances, a graphic tells us information like "Combination 8", a good use of the video format.
Afterwards, Sarah reappears in a practice costume and begins to teach/walk through the dance we've just seen. The practice costume is arranged such that we can see what her legs are doing - as well as learning the appropriate skirtwork. As before, a graphic tells us which combination is being taught. Nice!
She takes her time demonstrating each successive combination, making sure everything is covered, body, legs, feet, arms, skirt, posture. Effective.
Each combination is chapterized too - although not directly accessible from the main menu, hitting the forward button on the DVD player will advance from, say, "Combination 3" to "Combination 4". Good use of the DVD format here.
After this, some very skillful editing gives us "step by step & practice with music". The exact same instruction as seen before for each combination is followed, each in turn, with the exact same segment from the earlier demonstration/performance (Sarah in full costume) with the accompanying music. The performance segment is repeated twice for each successive combination - and then the performance is replayed from the beginning of the choreography up to the end of the current combination! It took me a few minutes to understand what she was doing with the video and why - but I think this is a very clever, and effective, use of video. Salute! As before, this section is well chapterized.
This whole teaching idea is repeated with the second choreography set to the tune Mastika. The same type of demonstration/performance, the chapterized combination instruction, and the instruction followed by performance segments. Short to write about, a lot more to watch!
A text listing of music used, credits, and disclaimer round out the video. I always appreciate having this kind of information made available.
What I liked about this video:
There's a lot to like - Sarah's instruction is clear, repeated a lot for clumsy males like me, and there is plenty of performance footage.
Its on DVD, and priced very affordably!
What I didn't like about this video:
The DVD played fine in my DVD player. However, in my computer (Macintosh with Apple's DVD player app), there were some problems with menus.
These problems are not easy to describe, but in a nutshell, the menus appear to be transparent and overlay whatever was on screen previously - if that scene happens to match the color of the lettering, the menu disappears! When in a "real" DVD player, an appropriate background loads with the menu that isn't seen in the computer. A technological hiccup. Perhaps other computer based DVD player software doesn't have this problem - but I've never seen this one before. As many people play DVDs on computers, this hiccup really shouldn't exist.
You can purchase this video from the World Dance New York WebSite.