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Basic Dance
Naturaljourneys, 2001
ISBN 1-58565-951-7

Beyond Basic Dance
Naturaljourneys, 2001
ISBN 1-58565-952-5

Mystic Dance
Naturaljourneys, 2001
ISBN 1-58565-953-3
Gilded Serpent presents...
Video Review:
Veena and Neena's
Discover Bellydance

by Eugenia Chow

"Hi, I'm Veena."
"--and I'm Neena."
"Welcome to _____ (fill in the blank: basic, beyond basic, mystic) dance." (Discover Bellydance)

            Gotta love those belly dance twins.  Veena's the one who smiles more broadly, with more genuineness (if possible), her face just a teeny bit more rounded at the cheek and her movements more confident and fully executed.  In other words, if you buy the twins' videos, watch the V/Neena (they're identical!) on your right hand side when you stand facing the screen.

Months after watching a captivating belly dance performance at a New York Chinatown Cantonese wedding, the bellydance craze hit me. 

You know you've got Bellydance fever when you start looking for books on Middle Eastern dancing in the tiny public library, Google-ing "bellydance, how to" and searching both "belly dance" and "bellydance" on Ebay. 

At least if you're a poor graduate student like me.  Either that or you go out and buy an authentic Egyptian costume in your exact size, coin belt, beaded bra and all, and sign up for private lessons with an eminent dancer in your area.  But like I said, I'm a poor fiction-writing MFA living on a meager teaching assistantship, and after finding out how much one semester of local Middle Eastern dance classes cost, I clicked the "Buy it Now!" button and dumped all three of Veena and Neena's Discover Bellydance DVDs into my Internet virtual cart.

Three weeks later, I'm happily dancing to the final DVD, Mystic Dance (I have a background in dancing, from Taiwanese slow tango, square dance, ballet to hip hop) and obsessively replaying bonus performances by Marina Darowish.

Each DVD includes warm-up, new movements, choreography, and the performance of choreography in time to music.  Beginner-friendly Basic Dance introduces hip drops and shimmies, undulations, half-turns, wrist circles, and other fundamental movements.  Beyond Basic Dance covers rib circles, hip drop-kicks and shimmies, traveling steps and full turns.  Mystic Dance combines previously learned arm and shoulder moves with upward and downward figure eights, spins, traditional veil movements and head slides.

In teaching new movements, the twins wear leotards that reveal their limbs, helpful for the viewer.  The camera shows them from different angles, zooming in or out as appropriate.  Excellent lighting and atmosphere also make viewing these DVDs a pleasurable experience.

Bonus features include excellent performances by contemporary dancers Lochia, Marina, and Sohaila, trailers from nine Bellydance DVDs, and a puzzling cut-out style photo gallery of Veena and Neena in assorted aerobics and bellydance wear.

Marina's three performances are worth the price of the entire set of DVDs. 

Her variable facial expression and powerful movements will mesmerize as well as humble those of us who have just finished dancing with the friendly smiling twins.  While gawping at Marina on the screen, you think, "I want to do that some day."  Or at the very least, "I want her costume."

Bellydance Boogie, Cardio Shimmy, Hip Hop Hip Drop, Pure Sweat--I nearly fell over watching these trailers.  Five non-V/Neena dancers in aerobics outfits and hip scarves accompanying incomplete rib circles with floppy, sloppy snake arms, dancing to...pop music.  Well, I'm sure these videos are effective for their advertised purpose: "Weight Loss for Beginners."

In conclusion, Veena and Neena's Discover Bellydance: three and a half zils rating (I'd give them four but they didn't use percussive instruments!)

available for purchase-

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