Fitness and Dance Fusion
Belly Dance Workout”, With Melissa WorldDance
Belly Dance Fitness Workout” -Temple Of Jehan
and WorldDance New York.
- “ World
Dance Workout” with Elsa Leandros, WorldDance
- “ World
Dance Aerobics” by Keti Sherif
beginning of the 21st century a major trend in both
the dance arts and fitness programming has been the concept of
fusion: the hybridization of several modalities or genres into
novel, exciting formulas. Now with an increase of interest
in both belly dance and exercise, it seems inevitable that a blend
of both entities enter into contemporary movement circles.
There are now many opportunities to develop dance practice into
a cardiovascular exercise at the same time.
fitness routine presented in the video or DVD format offers all
three components of an exercise program: cardiovascular conditioning,
stretching, and strength training. Many of the DVD’s that focus
on a dance format for cardiovascular conditioning base this component
on movements derived from a specific dance form.
may be a challenge to adequately achieve all three fitness parameters
while also offering a technically solid and tasteful representation
of the dance form.
an example, I will discuss some of the DVD’s recently submitted
to this website for review.
all the titles listed above, Jehan’s “Ultimate Belly Dance Fitness
Workout” appears to deliver the most promising format from the
perspective of the dance and for the potential for improving aerobic
on pure belly dance technique using various steps and combinations
which build in tempo over the course of the DVD. The comprehensive
nature of the technique make this a good choice for dancers who
have had exposure to the dance form and who are familiar enough
with belly dance terminology to follow fast movement combinations
from a face to face perspective (as opposed to following behind
her knowledge and passion for the dance form though her original
music and her voice over, but does not appear in the DVD. She
has six fit and accomplished dancers who demonstrate the moves
in various sections with impeccable form and innovative dance
wear (how about tight jeans with hip belts and sleek bra tops?)
is honey toned and she articulates movement specifics while also
inviting qualities of energy and flow dynamics. The format is
divided into sections with titles that bear, at best, a vague
reference to the content. For example, the “Strength” section
includes strong hip lifts, drops and thrusts. No squats
or lunges here. “Sensuality” incorporates slower serpentine movements
such as shoulder rolls and undulations. Both “Passion” and “energy”
are segments devoted to fast paced steps and shimmies combined
to provide an aerobic workout. The rapid change intervals
of each combination or step grouping could be frustrating for
less experienced dancers. As a nod to the fitness realm,
Andrew Troy, a personal trainer, discusses the
basic approach to exercise prescription, including how to determine
heart rate zones.
this DVD is a great way for dancers to hone their skills while
working up a healthy sweat.
Belly Dance features Melissa; a dancer and
fitness instructor who has conjured a unique blend of Pilates
based core awareness with belly dance.
“belly core” approach highlights the importance of core stability
provided by Pilate’s principles while also explaining the quality
of mobility and flexibility that belly dance offers.
instruction is systematic and easy to follow. She demonstrates
solo and cues off camera. Both front and diagonal camera
angles give improved dimension making the movements easier to
see. She starts the DVD with a Pilates mat based warm up.
Most of the Pilates movements are basic preparatory exercises
for more advanced mat work and she is quite thorough in explaining
proper alignment. There were two things about the Pilates
section that detracted from the overall quality; the lack of focus
on breath with the movements and the fact that the dancer wears
Pedini style teaching shoes for her supine mat work. For
Pilates exercise, bare feet are more secure when anchoring and
are more articulate in flexion and extension.
dance section consists of “movement rehearsals” followed by ”cardio
segments”. The movement rehearsals include isolations and
some basic steps broken down and then built back up slowly with
variations. The steps and combinations are easy to follow.
Melissa cues instinctively with a light, playful manner.
The cool down is precise and thorough, focusing on relieving any
tension built up in the lower extremities and pelvis.
DVD presents a fairly complete fitness package, appropriate for
many levels of ability.
“World Dance Aerobics” and “World Dance Workout” are exercise
formats based on various ethnic dance forms with belly dance being
featured as the primary medium.
Sherif has a fairly organized format, which according
to her promotional literature she has licensed as a teaching/training
method for instructors. Her A-Z tiered training system sounds
good on paper but I wasn’t inspired to sign up based on what I
saw of the DVD.
said, the content of the DVD is interesting and provides an array
of dance-based movements for instructors.
with two other dancers move quickly through short combinations,
each one with a catchy title ( eg. A for Aswan). Some of
the direction changes and footwork could benefit from a posterior
camera angle. Keti talks frequently but her words lack depth.
Her cuing is at times shallow and irrelevant. In addition, there
is no preface or mission statement for her business and nothing
about fitness of exercise. The content in itself is very
good, fun and rhythmic with samba influences sprinkled here and
there. In spite of this, the production with its irritating
techno music and vapid cuing lacks soul.
“World Dance” DVD is the most low tech of the bunch. No
fancy sets or costumes, just Elsa and two dancers
upstage demonstrating dance-based combinations in a simple studio
instructor, Elsa has sub par technique but has an approachable
sincerity that is appealing. This DVD with its no nonsense
simplicity may resonate with beginning dancers who can benefit
from interesting content along with ample time for repetition.
are innovative and easy to follow, the one caveat being the instructor’s
lack of good technique and form. The segments of the DVD
focus on various dance forms (belly dance, samba, salsa, flamenco
and Bollywood) and Elsa also leads a basic warm up and cool down
of slow isolations and stretches. I like this elemental
approach. Elsa seems to invite us in, relax and let the
dance happen. This DVD can add an infusion of the ethnic dance
arts to the movement vocabulary of both novice and experienced
can be useful tools for maintaining technique or body conditioning,
but I feel they are an adjunct to traditional training modes and
expanding one’s knowledge through classes and workshops. The bi-directional
relationship between teacher and student can’t be replaced with
own about 75 movement related videos and DVD’s and I enjoy them
for what they are, but I also relish the experience of teaching
or receiving a class while experiencing the spontaneous discovery
of the learning process in live action.
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for other possible viewpoints!
9-15-03 A Tale of
Two Gigs in the City by Jawahare
was in this space of scarcity that I accepted a Christmas party
gig by telephone that left me with some doubts.
Opening a Bellydance Studio,
Tips for Success by Keti Sharif
has recently retired fully from bellydancing but offers great
advice on business plans for dancers wishing to expand their hobby
into a career.
Child's Journey into
Bellydance by Jawahare
could feel Alexa wilting by my side.
What You Can't Get From
Instructional Videos by Rebecca Firestone
able to withstand honest opinions is crucial. If one never communicates
directly with one's peers AS PEERS, that is, not as sycophantic
students, one can develop an insular and self-referential mindset
without ever realizing it.
Interview with Safaa Farid by
found the foreigners to care about the quality of the work and
not to look only for tips
What's in a Name? A Dancer's
Response to Margo's poem "Much, Much, More" by Erica
of the UK
apologize to anyone who feels diminished and tarnished by Western
appropriation of their cultural heritage turning its labels on
them. I cannot speak for anyone else female or male. This is how