The Gilded Serpent presents...
Marquerite's Video -
"Spins & Turns"

Video review by Yasmela

Spins and Turns with Marguerite is one of the newer offerings in the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance instructional and performance video series.  As with all of the IAMED videos, the production quality is excellent.  As for the content, so much of what is in a video is subjective. The following review reflects only my own impressions of what is offered and I have no doubt others will have different impressions. 

The video is divided into sections, beginning with Warm-Up and Exercises. This section is very detailed and also very good. 

I felt this portion is of real value to dancers of any experience level.

Marguerite explains how to do each exercise and then amply demonstrates it, including modifications for dancers who are less limber or just starting out.  I was amused by one of her statements that advised the viewer to “go as fast as you can but no faster.”  This is good advice for a myriad of things, don’t you think? 

Marguerite moves on to the Technique section next.  She has a unique way of breaking down turns that I found a little unusual; however, for beginning dancers this section might be really valuable. Her explanations are very detailed, although at times I felt she made simple moves seem harder than they needed to be. Her method of teaching a barrel spin involves placing your head on a wall and turning with your hands placed next to your head.  I’m sure this works in person, but on the video it was a little bizarre and rather confusing.  She also mentioned a "chain link fence technique," which, when I thought about it later, made sense, but in the context of the video it left me puzzled. Perhaps just leaving out methods that aren’t demonstrated would be better.  Teaching on a video is different from teaching in person. 

For some reason Marguerite chose to teach her repertoire of spins and then come back at the end of this section to teach spotting and arm work. As I watched her break down her spins in the beginning of the technique section, I waited for her to explain arm placement and spotting.  When she didn’t, I thought that she just wasn’t going to do it at all. I found this arrangement clumsy and awkward. 

Her spotting technique was intriguing and involved a finger-snapping exercise.

  This is obviously a form of teaching technique with which I am unfamiliar.  I learned to spot in a more traditional ballet-founded method.  If Marguerite’s technique works for the viewer, great!  Adding arms after teaching footwork for the turns is not the most efficacious way to help a dancer integrate movement, but results in unnecessary repetition of movements that were already demonstrated.   The material presented could have been done in a more logical progression.   

Marguerite with a Gilded Serpent!

(not in the video)
In the final section, Adding Texture to Your Performance, Marguerite finally integrates arms with her turns and even briefly touches upon the use of a veil.  This was an especially interesting and engaging section of the video, although she should have left out the section on getting down to the floor.  She demonstrates and explains some “specialized turns” including a head flip, over-the-head wipe and level changes.  Finally, she includes a section on footwear that is unique, very interesting and very helpful. 

This is a good video for beginning dancers who have not been taught basic turns.  I did feel there was a lot left out, however, and some of the technique is clumsy.

  It is a LONG video, perhaps too long - 93 minutes devoted to spins and turns seems excessive.  This material could have been covered more efficiently in less time.  That said, the content will surely be of interest to dancers whose focus is spins and turns.

Marguerite’s two performances at the end are interesting.  The first one is in a cabaret setting and is a nice demonstration of the techniques she broke down earlier.  She is a charming dancer who has a good grasp of putting a move across and her spins are a nice enhancement to an accomplished performance.  I was less engaged by the second performance.  It was vaguely reminiscent of some Sufi spinning I have seen and was in an “interpretive” style that I do not enjoy. 

I found it ponderous and a little pretentious, but that is MY opinion and based on my own feelings that ecstatic dance is not an audience- appropriate experience. 

However, I feel certain that some viewers will find this section lovely and profound. There is very little music used in the teaching portion of the tape and I missed that.  I also think future productions need to be careful of confusing delivering information with just filling time.  This production was not as well directed as the other IAMED videos I have seen, but it does touch on a neglected part of the dance.  Modern Egyptian style dance doesn’t call for much spinning, and teaching spins and turns as a specialty is an interesting concept.  There is much for beginning dancers to learn from this tape, and the high production quality makes it easy to watch. 

Marguerite is an engaging teacher, very sincere and eager to make sure the viewer is safe and informed.

If this is an area about which you wish to learn more, this tape is a worthy investment.

Have a comment? Send us a letter!
Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

Ready for more?
more from Yasmela-

12-5-03 Jillina’s DVD or All Jillina, All the Time Video reviewed by Yasmela/ Shelley Muzzy

In fact, the production quality is exemplary.

9-12-03 Classic Cabaret Floor Work with Anaheed Video reviewed by Yasmela/ Shelley Muzzy
Good lighting, good sound, clear instructions and good camera work seem to be the hallmarks of IAMED videos.

5-21-03 Tribal Bible Reviewed by Shelley Muzzy/Yasmela
And I suppose to some dancers, it is a way of life. There is repeated emphasis placed on the concepts of bonding, healing, empowering, and connecting throughout the book. From the sound of it, American women are desperate to connect, to be part of a tribe, to belong.

2-1-04 Youth, Beauty and Branding, The Virgin Megastore Grand Reopening, part 2 photos by Lynette, with Jillina, Sahlala Dancers, and Issam Houshan San Francisco, California, December 3, 2003

1-17-04 Virgin Megastore Reopening featuring Jillina & the Sahlala Dancers & Issam Houshan, photos and layout by Susie
San Francisco, CA, Wednesday, December 3, 2003

1-25-04 One Ad Changed My Life by Amina Goodyear
I was very desperate and determined to get back to my old self.


 Gilded Serpent
 Cover page, Contents, Calendar Comics Bazaar About Us Letters to the Editor Ad Guidelines Submission Guidelines