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To my knowledge, this video has never been offered on VHS tape.
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The above poll includes responses submitted since February 11, 2004.
|Recommended Level||Total Novice|
|Total Video Length||67:19 minutes|
|Performance Time||15:44 minutes (23%)|
|Teaching Time||49:00 minutes (73%)|
|Amount Of "Other"||2:35 minutes (4%)|
|Number Of Models||3|
|List Price||$29.95 both VHS tape and DVD|
|Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time||46 cents|
|Cost For "Other"||$1.15|
Working together as a team, Anita-Cristina Calcaterra, Cathy Moore, and Karen Uminski take turns teaching elementary belly dance moves. They organize their instruction around five different geometric shapes: the circle, the crescent, the shimmy, the undulation, and the figure eight. Older women who don't quite see themselves parading around in sequins and those who have body image issues are likely to find this overall video very affirming - the women of Goddess Dancing unashamedly allow their rounded bare stomachs to show, celebrating the curves of their real-woman bodies rather than trying to hide them. They emphasize the joy of dancing rather than the idea of lolling about in chiffon.
The video opens with a detailed description of the correct posture for belly dancing, which clearly illustrates the optimal stance for doing the moves while protecting the body from injury. This is followed by a 4-minute warm-up routine. The warm-up itself draws on various goddess archetypes to provide imagery for each move. From here, the video moves into the instruction section, arranged into five sections, one for each of the shapes. The instructors take turns in the front lead position for teaching, while the other two appear behind. For each move, the instructors use vivid imagery to help describe it. For example, in teaching hip circles they suggest you imagine yourself standing in a bowl, and you use your hips to trace the upper edge of the bowl. In addition, they also describe which muscles are engaged in producing the move. After teaching all the moves for a given shape, the instructors then lead a brief practice session reviewing each of the moves taught in that segment.
Following the segment on how to do the moves, the instructors introduce "The Creation Dance," a choreographed dance that has been set to a poem about the goddess written by Anita-Cristina. This is presented in a "follow along with me" style, and on-screen titles help guide the viewer in identifying which move is being done. The pace of the choreography is slow enough to make it possible to keep up with them. At times, it's hard to tell what to do next because the camera occasionally zooms in for a close-up of the face, but thankfully most of the time it stays back far enough to show the moves.
The production quality is excellent. The set is a dreamy fantasy bedroom, draped with sheer curtains. It is well lit and easy to see the dancers. The sound is clear, and it's always easy to hear the instructors over the music. The music throughout the video is New Age style, performed by Desert Wind. At times it is instrumental, at other times there is chanting. For each different segment, the dancers wear different practice outfits which keep the video interesting to look at. My only complaint is that occasionally the camera focuses in tightly on the faces and chests of the dancers, preventing me from seeing what their bodies are doing. This doesn't happen often enough to ruin the video, but it is frustrating when it does.
The DVD edition includes a 7 ½-minute segment titled "Special Performance" in which the three instructors take turns performing. The presentation gives the impression of friends taking turns performing for their own pleasure and for each other rather than a slick public performance. The clothing is simple but attractive: midriff-baring blouses, hip scarves, and flowing cotton skirts. There's not a sequin in sight. Soft New Age music with repetitive chanting sets a meditative mood. Karen dances first, opening her set with sword work. She begins with several bold flourishes, and does a bit of balancing. Then Karen takes her seat and Anita-Cristina begins to dance. Her routine is mostly floor work, although she rises to her feet for some standing undulations at the end. She then invites Cathy to take the floor, and Cathy continues with moves based on standing undulations. Then all three dance together to close the segment.
|This is a beautifully-presented video that avoids all the glamour stereotypes of belly dancing and instead focuses on belly dance as an activity that a woman can do simply for personal enjoyment or social time with friends. The instructors have "real women" figures, and they serve well as role models for being at peace with one's body. Although the goddess theme is present in the warm-up and "follow me" choreography at the end, it is offered in a way the viewer can choose to interpret as merely myth or as something more spiritual.|
|Back in 1997, I attended a belly dance retreat in which one of the instructors was Lorraine Lafata of The Goddess Dancing. Today, she is no longer an active member and does not appear on this video. I have not met any of the current members, and my only contact with them has been correspondence with Anita-Cristina regarding this video. I was sent a complimentary copy of the video for review purposes.|
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