Gypsy Passion, Belly Dance Fusion Choreography by Vashti
Overall Zorba Rating:
2008, region free , run time 118 minutes.
Instructional Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Vashti teaches a Belly Dance fusion choreography with skirt.
DISCLAIMER: Vashti is a well regarded teacher who is semi-local to me. I've never taken a class from her, although I've taken workshops she's sponsored and have danced in several of her shows. Although I cannot claim to know her well, she's more than a mere 'nodding acquaintance'! I purchased this video at Vashti's studio.
The video starts with a brief Cheeky Girls Productions frontispiece, then drops directly into the main menu. As I've come to expect from Cheeky Girls, production values are high - excellent lighting, sound, camerawork, and editing. Vashti and her assistants wear costuming that allows the viewer to see them well. The DVD is well chapterized with graphics identifying each.
Vashti starts with a brief voice-over introduction where she explains what this video is about. She tells us that she uses the word "Gypsy" to describe a stylization not a people, and that this choreography fuses Belly Dance, Flamenco, Gitana as well as folkloric movements from Columbia and Mexico. A nice touch - its always good to have "truth in advertising". She also explains that while she breaks down the various movements utilized, she does not teach them per se (consistent with an "intermediate/advanced" instructional level); and that the video includes optional/extra elements that can be added or omitted as the dancer desires or according to her/his ability. Lastly, she points out that she uses terminology from her background in the Suhaila Salimpour (teaching) format.
Throughout the video, Vashti teaches with two assistants, one on each side of her. In all cases, all movements are shown both from the front and, from the more familiar to the student, back view - however the format varies how this is accomplished. Sometimes all 3 face the camera, then face away later to demonstrate; other-times Vashti faces the camera while the assistants face away.
The actual instruction begins with a warmup. I'm always of two minds when a warmup is included in an instructional video. On one hand, we all know the value of a good warmup (especially as we grow older ). On the other hand, most dancers know how to warm their particular body up, and the time could be better spent on actual instruction. Take your pick. The warmup used here will be familiar to anyone who has taken a Suhaila-influenced class or workshop.
Next, the various stylizations and techniques used are reviewed. These are: Skirt Work, Rumba Step, Zambra/Cumbia Step, and Vuelta de Pasos. They are all walked through, then demonstrated with music.
The rest of the video is quite comprehensive in teaching the actual choreography, although the explanation in a mini-review like this is easy enough. The first third is taught, then demonstrated; followed by the second third being taught, with the entire choreography "so far" demonstrated. And, you guessed it! The last third is taught, with the entire choreography demonstrated, both back and front views (in succession). Like in a live workshop, more difficult passages are walked through - and demonstrated - more than once. Each demonstration is with music and with Vashti (alone) in costume.
What I liked about this video:
I liked that Vashti kept it as similar to a live workshop as possible. Its a format we as dancers are all familiar with and it works. The repeat of harder portions is both "real life" and effective. During the teaching segments, Vashti is skirt-less, while her assistants have skirts - so we can see what's going on as well as what it looks like, which can be a challenge when teaching skirt work.
I don't claim to be the world's expert on skirt dancing, but I've done my share of it; and I really liked Vashti's clear explanations of techniques that I already knew - because her explanations mesh with my own understanding of the subject. I was also very impressed to learn a couple of new tricks on dancing with a skirt that I didn't know about!
Its on DVD. Full information on the music used is given.
What I didn't like about this video:
About the only thing I can complain about - and it's a nit - is that the format of teaching isn't entirely consistent. As I mentioned above, front and back views are always presented, but not always in a consistent way. There was also one point where one of the assistants looked slightly lost (in following Vashti) - no biggie, but it could have easily been re-shot.
You can purchase this video from Vashti's Website.