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Overall Rating: (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)
This is an exercise video with a little belly dancing thrown in. It gave me perkiness poisoning. If you enjoy doing standard gym-style aerobics and you also happen to be an intermediate or advanced belly dancer, you might like it more than I did. It is divided into 7 parts: warm-up, stomach/leg toning, belly dancing isolations, cardio-vascular workout, folk dance, cool-down, and belly dancing technique.
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|Recommended Level||Intermediate or Advanced|
|Total Video Length||59:18 minutes|
|Warm-Up Time||11:00 minutes (19%)|
|Workout Time||30:06 minutes (51%)|
|Cooldown Time||4:04 minutes (7%)|
|Choreography Instruction||8:23 minutes (14%)|
|Amount Of "Other"||5:45 minutes (10%)|
|Number Of Models||8|
Oh my. This video gave me a severe case of perkiness poisoning.
This is an hour-long exercise video, divided into 7 parts. It does not provide any belly dancing instruction, so it's more suited to intermediate and advanced belly dancers than it is to people with beginning level belly dance experience. There are three instructors featured on this video: Debbie Parks (former Miss Oklahoma and the personification of perkiness), Sadia Orvis, and Suzanna Del Vecchio. It was produced in the mid-1980's by Sphinx Records to showcase music composed by Dr. Samy Farag, and reflects the then-current thinking in what constitutes a good exercise regimen. Farag's music has a very electronic, synthesized sound.
Part 1, Warm-Ups, which is about 11 minutes long, consists of warm-ups. These moves are the same ones you might expect to use in a standard aerobics class in the gym. There are no moves oriented toward belly dancing at all. It includes pliés, lunges, push-ups, head and shoulder movements, etc. This section is taught by Debbie Parks, whom I came to think of as Debbie Perky by the end. With a huge smile on her face, she continually tells me, "You're doing great!" I guess I was doing great, comfortably curled up in my recliner chair. Debbie was assisted by 8 models, all wearing standard gym attire for aerobics: unitards, leotards, tights, etc. Two of the models were men, wearing tank tops and tights.
Part 2, Stomach and Leg Work, is about 8 minutes long. It focuses on toning of the legs and abdomen. Once again, Perky Debbie was the instructor, with the same assistants as in the opening section garbed in the same exercise gear. She continues to tell me I'm doing great. In this section, too, the moves utilized are standard gym exercises, with multiple variations of crunches, leg lifts, and kicks. This entire section was done on the floor, on a mat.
Part 3, Belly Dancing Isolations, is about 15 1/2 minutes long. The instructor is Sadia Orvis, and she leads a continuous-motion workout based on belly dancing moves. Sadia's stage personality is matter-of-fact, offering a welcome relief from the preceding perkiness. Perky Debbie participated in the back as one of the models helping demonstrate the moves, but sometimes her facial expressions were more grimaces than the cheery smiles of Parts 1 and 2. I guess belly rolls aren't her cup of tea. The video assumes that you already know how to do various belly dancing moves, and simply knits them together into an exercise routine. It includes variations on hip lifts, figure 8's, hip circles, whole-body undulations, belly rolls, head slides, snake arms, and 3/4 shimmy.
If you're an intermediate or advanced belly dancer who already knows how to do these moves, you might enjoy using this section to give you a structure for home practice or a low-impact exercise workout. If you're a beginning dancer, you'll probably feel lost on some of the undulations. None of the moves are explained, but in some cases Sadia shows lead-in moves that work up to them. For example, she shows rib cage slides side-to-side and forward-back, then she shows a box, then she shows a circle.
Some of the models struggled with some of the belly dance moves, while others clearly knew what they were doing. This section would have been stronger if the assistants would have included only people who knew what they were doing. Those who were clearly not belly dancers were sometimes showing how not to do a move. Fortunately, most of the time the camera focused on people who were doing things correctly, but once in a while it wandered to someone who was not a particularly effective role model. The camera work was a bit annoying in this section, because it frequently showed people only from the waist up, even in sections where Sadia was leading practice in hip moves. When hip moves are being demonstrated, the camera really should be showing hips and feet, not smiling faces.
In this section, people wore the same exercise outfits they had worn in the earlier sections, but added hipbands of beaded fringe. The men wore sequinned bands without fringe at their hips.
Part 4 marked a return to Debbie's instruction. She led a full-blown cardio-vascular workout consisting solely of standard gym aerobics dance type moves. There wasn't a hip shimmy in sight for this 6 1/2 minute section. She didn't tell me I was doing great as frequently in this section. I assume she was saving her breath to tell me which aerobic move to do next. This is a high-impact section which I would not recommend to people with shin splints or a history of trouble with knee and ankle joints.
Part 5 was probably the weakest part of the whole video. This was supposedly a folkloric dance which "K", a friend and fellow dancer, described as joke-loric. It was introduced saying you could do what you wanted, or you could follow them. There was absolutely nothing said about which region the dance steps were from, and no attempt made to teach the steps before beginning the up-to-speed dance. As they did the dance, there was nobody narrating to say which step to do next. With my background as a folk dancer, I cringed at the presentation. About half the time, the camera remained annoyingly focused on people's heads and upper bodies, without showing their feet. This was idiotic for a dance that was based primarily on various footwork combinations.
There was no clear leader/instructor. Some of the participants obviously didn't know much about folk dancing, and it showed in their footwork. At one point, a dancer near one end took hold of the hands of the people on either side of her, and eventually everyone else in the line noticed and jockeyed into position to do the same. When one person on the other end decided to raise her arms, once again everyone seemed to catch on slowly.
The dresses worn by the women were glittery paillette dresses in various designs, like the kind many vendors import from Egypt. The men were still wearing the same exercise garb they had worn throughout the earlier part of the video, with a return to their sequinned hip bands. The footwork, when the camera allowed me to see it, consisted of folk dance steps I'm used to doing in dances from Greece and Eastern Europe. The flavor of the music sounded Israeli, but I was confused because the title of the song was Inshallah (as Allah wills it), which is decidedly not Israeli! The lyrics were in English. Mercifully, this lasted only 3 minutes.
In Part 6, Debbie returned to lead a cool-down. This used many of the same exercises as the warm-up, only done to mellower music. It lasted about 4 minutes.
In Part 7, Suzanna Del Vecchio closed the video with an 8 1/2 minute section teaching a choreographed belly dance routine. The format for the instruction was that Suzanna and her assistants did the routine together to music while Suzanna called out which move to do next. It probably was a nice routine, but I'm not sure because the camera made it impossible for me to follow what was going on. It never seemed to focus on the body parts that I needed to see. Several times, Suzanna was describing a hip movement while the camera showed a close-up focused on people's faces and chests. For this section, Suzanna and her four assistants all wore full glittery beaded/sequinned nightclub bra/belt/skirt sets. They were beautiful, but made it difficult to see the dancers' feet on the rare occasions that the camera angles let me see them from the waist down. Please don't let this poorly-filmed video dissuade you from sampling the videos that Suzanna produced herself - BellyRobics does not show her to best advantage.
|I was not fond of this video. People who embrace the aerobics dance form of exercise that rose to prominence in the late 1970's and 1980's would probably appreciate this video much more than I did, especially if they don't mind perky instructors. I bought it expecting a workout that utilized belly dancing warm-ups, toning, aerobics, and cool-down, and that's not what it is. I felt that Suzanna Del Vecchio was under-utilized and her segment poorly filmed.|
|I have nothing to disclose. I purchased this video back in the 1980's from a belly dancing vendor, and I have never had any contact with Sphinx Records or Dr. Samy Farag.|
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