Gilded Serpent presents...
All Jillina, All the Time
Video reviewed by Yasmela/ Shelley Muzzy
boxed set of 3 instructional DVDs looks like the first by-product
of the recent Bellydance Superstars tour. Now let me say
right off that I like Jillina’s dancing. She is perky, cute, and
technically proficient, so I was excited to be asked to review this
set. The set is attractively boxed, each DVD a different color,
very slick. In fact, the production quality is exemplary.
those of you familiar with Jillina’s other two teaching videos
produced by IAMED, the format followed is similar although
professional production quality has refined it even more.
The actual stage
set is attractive but not distracting. Jillina teaches in front
of a mirror with the camera at an angle that allows us to see her
back as well as her front. I liked this because it is similar to
the situation you would find in a studio. The format includes voice-over
introductions and a short warm up during which Jillina instructs
the viewer to do a more thorough warm up before dancing. Then follows
technique, combinations and choreography. Each DVD concludes with
a live performance that includes the choreographed section just taught.
series progresses from a fairly basic choreography on Level 1 to
a more complex one on Level 3. After warm ups, Jillina introduces
individual movements pertinent to that choreography, and then puts
them into combinations. The combinations are repeated without music
and again with music. Each combination is numbered at the bottom
of the screen for easy reference. After this, Jillina teaches the
choreography using the previous combinations. She builds the choreography
by stringing sections together without music and then again with
music, including a new combination at the end of the musical demonstration,
giving the viewer a preview of what comes next and how it fits into
is a good format that works very well, giving the viewer ample
opportunity to learn each and every sequence. At the conclusion
we see the choreography performed in the context of a live
routine. I especially appreciated the list of music used that
was included at the end of each DVD.
a wealth of outside dance training to her unique interpretation of
Oriental dance that includes jazz, ballet and Hawaiian. This is
not modern Egyptian style dance; it is pure American pop belly dance,
heavy on technical gymnastics and precision movements. I think you
really need some Middle Eastern dance background before approaching
this set. Jillina gives us only the steps necessary for the combinations
and choreographies she uses. She verbally encourages us to use the
combinations and choreography in our own way in our dancing, but
this set could by no means be construed as a course in Oriental dance. If
you are looking for history, background or foundation technique,
you won’t find it here. There is nothing ethnic about Jillina’s
dancing except an occasional nod to folk styles in the names Jillina
gives to some of her steps or in a bit of khaleeji head tossing and
Saidi bouncing. Other than that, her dance is pure ballet/jazz derived
with years of muscular training evident in her signature “omi” and
energetic bounces and pops. I have to admit she makes me think of
Tigger at times, that is when I’m not thinking about drill teams
and dance competitions. The music throughout is predominantly modern
Middle Eastern pop. And all of this is good fun, I think….
the exceptional quality of the teaching segments, I am really
perplexed by the thinking behind the filming of the performance
read somewhere that Fred Astaire insisted that all of his dances
be filmed to include the total dancer, no close ups of faces or feet. This
cameraperson obviously did not read the same material I did. There
is nothing more annoying to me than being right in the middle of
watching a performance when the camera zooms in on the dancer’s face,
feet or boobs! PLEASE! And there seemed to be some attempt at an
artsy feeling, trying to make the viewer feel like one of the audience. This
was especially annoying! Peering between the heads and shoulders
of the audience on the floor because of the cameraperson’s attempt
at a “realistic” angle is a waste of film. If I wanted to do that
I could sit on the floor of some Hafla performance, I wouldn’t buy
a DVD! And what a tough audience! The performance was filmed in
someone’s palatial house, the audience sitting on the floor and strung
out up a staircase with another attempt at an artistic setting. At
times it was hard to tell if they were alive or not. Occasionally
they made a half-hearted attempt at clapping or participating. Couldn’t
they find a halfway-educated audience, ply them with hors d’oeuvres
and wine and make it seem less like a wake? It reminded me of parties
at which I have danced where the audience wasn’t quite sure of what
they were supposed to be doing. Subdued is an understatement. I
would have felt sorry for Jillina if I weren’t so annoyed that she
spent interminable minutes looking down at her mid section as if
she was in awe of what her body was doing. Who told dancers that
this is attractive, educational or necessary? It is unfortunate
to have spent so much money on such a slick production and loose
it in the performance sections. As I said before, I like Jillina’s
dancing, and I am well aware that filmed dance seldom captures the
excitement of a live performance, but all of these sequences seem
over rehearsed, too perfect; perfect costume, perfect hair, perfect
music, perfect setting, just dead. They are very disappointing except
from a purely technical aspect.
dance is not all about mechanical choreography. It would be
nice to see Jillina just let it all down and DANCE.
was bored by her muscle gymnastics and worn out because she was so
busy. I kept looking for at least a small spark of “feeling”, even
a mistake to let me know this hadn’t been rehearsed ad nauseam. Perhaps
she was just tired and eager to be finished after such a huge effort.
the whole, Jillina’s DVD gives us our money’s worth. Top-notch
production, excellent format, a very good deal. I have paid
as much or more for videos produced in someone’s garage with
poor sound and bad teaching. This is not one of those. I
think we should all hope that the quality of these DVDs spills
over into other productions from other dancers.
This is a really
professional effort. If you like Jillina, you will love this set. If
you are new to the dance, please be aware that this is a very Americanized
version (and very regional at that!) of this dance form. If you
are looking for history, understanding of folkloric roots and styles,
and some foundation technique with explanations, this is not the
product for you. Why does it so often seem that slick packaging
means loss of soul?
I recommend this
set to dancers who have experience and are looking for some fresh
ideas, or might want to explore the best of modern American pop style
Oriental dance, but as always, this is no substitute for a live warm
person. You won’t learn to dance from a video or DVD, but you can
learn a lot about Jillina’s style from this set.
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other possible viewpoints!
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