Learn The Art of Male Belly Dancing
Learn The Art of Male Belly Dancing by Wesley Gomes, with Cory Zamora
2005, (apparently region free), run time 70 minutes.
This video is taught by Wesley Gomes, a well known male Belly Dancer in the Seattle, Washington area. Cory Zamora, his teacher, also contributes. A second male dancer, Gregory, appears in the performance segment at the end. Certainly there are other videos produced by male dancers, but this is the first one I've seen that perports to teach a "male version" of the dance.
Disclaimer: I've exchanged numerous emails with Ms. Zamora as she has taught several male dancers at her studio in Fresno, although I cannot claim to know her well. I am also acquainted with Wesley via on-line forums and emails. I've never met Gregory.
The back cover of the DVD reads in part, "There is an art to 'Male Belly Dancing.' It differs from how women traditionally do the dance...". Those familiar with my philosophies know that I take exception to this viewpoint. Ms. Zamora knows this also, but we have agreed to disagree on this point and respect each other. I will take the video from the maker's viewpoint and attempt not to let my own prejudices cloud this mini-review.
Similar to other videos from Ms. Zamora, this video is a no-frills, no-nonsense, get the job done video. The set is basic, but well lit and effective. Accompanied by "Brothers of the Baladi" music, Wesley and Cory get right down to business.
First, we get a personal greeting/explanation from Cory and Wesley, then we dive right in. Wesley shows us a number of basic Belly Dance movements, including wrist circles, snake arms, chest isolations, figure-8s, shimmies, and several traveling steps. Most movements are first presented, then presented again whilst playing Zills.
Several problems here:
This section closes with Cory explaining her views of male costuming and how to teach a male student.
- Being this video is targeted towards males who have probably never even thought about trying Belly Dance, much less actually done it; I am a bit distressed that basic posture isn't taught. At one point, Wesley suggests bending your knees to assist with a movement because of the "difference in the male center of gravity" (Paraphrased). Although he is quite right that males have a different center of gravity then females, and is also quite right in that we should bend our knees - this is part of basic Belly Dance posture that most teachers pound into their students from day one because it is correct posture for either gender.
- Wesley often stands with his feet apart - a definite no-no (in general) in Belly Dance. As we're not told if this is one of the "differences" between male and female dance, it is a bit puzzling. With our narrow hip structure, it is my opinion that males need to keep their legs/feet together even more than females so our hip movements can be seen; although Wesley does tell us that males emphasize steps more than hipwork (!).
- Wesley is to be commended for including Zills in his instruction. Opinions on when to introduce Zills vary, but many instructors do start their students with them from day one. Unfortunately, we are not even told how to wear the Zills correctly, although the Zill patterns he uses are simple enough and well explained.
- Wesley et al are from the "males should wear shirts" school, so he wears one while teaching. Ok, fine - but it would have been much easier to see what he's doing if he had at least worn a coin/hip scarf like he does in the performance segment.
The last two sections are performance segments. Both Wesley, and Gregory perform for us, and there is a brief interview with Gregory who is, refreshingly in my view, wearing earrings in both ears (not that that has anything to do with Belly Dance, but hey! I'm a sucker for earrings.). Wesley and Gregory both dance very well, and I found their performances enjoyable. Although they do limit themselves as to what they feel appropriate for males to do in this dance, they don't noticeably "masculinize" or stiffen up what's left - they're very fluid and smooth. This video is well worth buying just for the performance segments.
What I liked about this video:
What with the extreme reluctance of males to become involved with our artform, this video shows us that males can indeed do this dance. The instructor's "males dance different" philosophy will definitely resonate with a number of men who otherwise wouldn't consider it.
There is nothing here that isn't on 10,000 other videos by female instructors, but the very fact this is a male instructor will be appealing to many. On the other hand, a prospective male student will need to move on to other videos fairly quickly. In other words, it serves as a good introduction.
The video is well lit, and sound quality is good, although editing is rudimentary.
Its a DVD! YAY!
What I didn't like about this video:
Problems as detailed above
Not enough chapterization. The instruction segment is one chapter, the performances are divided into two more. Makes it hard to "rewind" to repeat movements as the instructional segment moves right along.
You can purchase this video from Cory's WebSite.