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Belly Dance

Meaning in Movement – DVD Review

Meaning movementMeaning in Movement is an instructional DVD with Alimah as the instructor and with the DVD produced by Cheeky Girls Productions, run by Michelle Joyce. I love instructional DVDs by Cheeky Girls Productions, as they are very professional, they cover a big range of topics, give clear guidance and they are great value for money.

This DVD in particular is very inspirational, because it highlights the importance of emotional expression and magnetism in belly dance. Too often, as dancers, we focus too much on technique and repetition at the expenses of expressing the feelings in dance.

While technique is very useful and fundamental in order to be able to express yourself fully as a dancer, expression is essential too, otherwise the result will be empty technique that does not engage the viewer.

General Impression

I have actually realised how much I have learnt from this DVD, only now as I am writing this review and reflect on what I have achieved since I watched and studied ‘Meaning in Movement’. This DVD contains tips and advice on a lot of different aspects of dance, which influence not just the shape of the movements, but the actual quality, energy and flow of movements. These are the things that give that extra juice to the dance, an extra level of meaning and I became very aware of these after studying this DVD. However, I learnt these concepts so deeply, that I was not aware of how much I had learnt until going through the DVD to write a review. Also, I find that some of these concepts are also used in contemporary dance, practising which has helped me in my development as a belly dancer.

Content

This DVD is made up of six sections, then divided into subsections. In the first section, Alimah explains a series of concepts, which need to be considered in dance; the second section is a flow practice that uses visualizations; the third one contains eight combinations; the fourth section is a choreography and the fifth a series of performances featuring Alimah.

Concepts Section

This covers a series of ideas that, accordingly to how you use them, can change  the feeling of the dance and can act as channels through which to transmit energy. These ideas include:

  • Breath
  • Space
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Zippers (these refer to muscle contractions used in belly dance)
  • ‘Bowling balls’ (these are not literally bowling balls, but just an expression that Alimah uses to aid visualisation)
  • Dynamic ranges
  • Level changes
  • Diagonals
  • Texture
  • Exercises in creativity
  • Timing
  • Kinetic energy (contraction and release)
  • Interrupted movements
  • Leaving the spine
  • Accents

If you are a seasoned dancer, you may be aware of all or some of the above concepts, but Alimah explains them very well and  experienced dancers may discover some new interesting concepts too.

Flow

In this section, Alimah guides you through a continued practice, referring to the concepts she explains in the first section. In this part, you will start to really feel in your body those abstract concepts, if you practise.

Combos

In this part of the DVD there are 8 combinations and it will take you a while to go through all of them properly, thus this part will keep you busy. I have not even managed to practise them all yet and I have had this DVD for a while. You may or may not want to use some of these combinations in your own performances, but, even if you do not, it is worth practising them in order to understand even better the concepts of this DVD.  Each combination is first explained thoroughly in a step by step fashion, then there is a part where Alimah just dances to it with the music (without talking) so you can practise. If then you want to practise all the combinations in a row, there is a section in the DVD with all the combinations in a row without interruptions, so you will not have to fumble with the remote while practising.

Choreography

All these techniques and combinations are then strung together to form a choreography, which is also first explained, then Amirah gives you a chance to practise it with music and finally she shows it as a performance with costume.

Performances

There are three bonus performances at the end, which are worth watching.

Advised Level

In order to make the most out of this DVD, you have to be at least intermediate level. You need to know the basic belly dance movements, as they are not explained. This DVD is meant for those who have knowledge of the technique, at least the basics, and only want to refine their dance and make it more interesting.

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