WorldDance New York // 2005 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees (Retired) // May 17th, 2005
Both earthy and spiritual, belly dance floorwork will add a unique creative experience to your personal fitness program.
Don't let the innocent face fool you. Tanna, the instructor for this belly dance workout, may look like Snow White, but she'll work you harder than a drill sergeant. In her introduction to this program, Tanna tells us that belly dance floor work, which is the part of the dancer's routine performed while kneeling, sitting, or lying on the floor, shows off the dancer's flexibility, strength, and muscle control. Translated, this means that you'd better be in fabulous shape if you plan on keeping up with Tanna during the workout.
I'm not in fabulous shape, so as soon as my quads started quivering, I sat down and just watched. (Even then my face muscles got a good workout, since I had to keep hitching up my jaw as I watched some of the astonishing moves Tanna was demonstrating.) I suspect that this workout would be a great way for someone well experienced in Pilates or yoga to vary their workout, since the three routines and tutorial that Tanna leads rely greatly on core strength. Fitness veteran Andy Troy appears in the introduction to the disc, accompanied by visual aides, to describe the many different muscle groups that this workout focuses on. The main areas are the abs, back, quadriceps, and arms (for moves in which you support yourself on one or both arms). You'll also be kneeling a great deal, so if that poses a problem, skip this workout. Tanna also appears in the introduction to offer thorough tips on safety and injury prevention.
After the introduction and a 21-minute tutorial section, the workout is divided into three separate routines that range in length from 13 to 17 minutes. All of these segments are demonstrated solo by Tanna, whose calm, quiet instructions are supplemented by graphics that represent the move and show how many repetitions you'll be doing. The names of most moves also appear on screen. The proliferation of information can be a bit overwhelming, but it's also fairly easy to ignore, since it all appears in white against the picture and is therefore pretty subtle. Each workout routine consists of a warmup, a practice segment in which you learn and do numerous repetitions of the basic moves, and a dance segment in which Tanna combines the movements you've just practiced in an alluring short dance routine. The dance segment is then followed by a cooldown (often pretty strenuous itself). The onscreen graphics and text are particularly valuable in the dance portion of each workout segment, which Tanna demonstrates without narrating. However, since she often uses more complex versions of the basic moves, the only foolproof way to follow along is just to watch her do the routine a lot. Each of these combinations is more challenging than the last, and you'll also be performing some moves that she doesn't cover in the tutorial section, so this is likely to be a workout you'll need to work up to over more than a single attempt.
Tanna is a very pleasant exercise leader, and the light, airy studio in which this program was filmed makes it visually soothing as well. The music ranges from wispy New Age to more exotic Middle Eastern sounds, but it's all understated and slow-paced, so the entire experience has an unhurried feel. However, don't expect to be transported by the aural landscape: The music never reaches much fullness of sound, and the volume of Tanna's voice also varies depending on how close her face is to her microphone as she moves. Visually, the quality is adequate. The workout segments are filmed with handheld camera, which is unusual for fitness programs and is often distracting in its refusal to sit still. Camera work is particularly intrusive in the dance demonstration, a disc extra in which Tanna performs an extended floorwork sequence complete with exotic costume and setting. The picture is so rife with close-ups, zooms, and arty silhouette shots that it interferes with the viewer's appreciation of the dance.
This would be a good program for the more experienced exerciser or dancer, but beginners would do better with other, less advanced discs from WorldDance New York, such as Neon's Belly Dance Party. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: WorldDance New York
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Performance by Tanna