Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees is very, very grateful no one was around to watch her practice infinity hip loops and undulations.
Learn and teach your friends!
Looking for a way to add some exotic flavor to your dancing? Belly Dance Party should do the trick. Designed, choreographed, and taught by Russian belly dancer Neon, this beginner-level program introduces ten belly dance combinations that you can take to the dance club or to parties.
The ten combinations are all 32 counts long and divided into eight-count components, so they can be performed to any standard dance music. For each combination, the segment begins with a demonstration of the entire combination, shown from front and back simultaneously, set to music. Then the music stops and Neon talks us through each set of moves, putting them together as we learn them until the entire combination is built. Then it's back to the complete demonstration with music. There are also three separate "practice" segments that show Neon performing the entire routine of ten combinations to music, uninterrupted and with no narration, again with simultaneous front and rear views. These differ in music tempo, with the second tempo option being the same tempo that is used in the demonstrations of the individual combinations.
Neon is an effective instructor. She teaches solo, and her manner is friendly, nonintimidating, and calm. For the most part she explains thoroughly and teaches the moves clearly. Her instructions are greatly enhanced by the use of graphics onscreen—such as arrows, circles, and infinity loops—that help the viewer to visualize the movement(s). She takes things slowly, giving useful pointers on form and breaking down the moves so that one can see just how they are put together. On just one or two occasions I found that her detailed breakdown of a move made it more confusing, and in these instances I found that simply watching her perform the move at tempo a few times made it easier to follow along. All viewers will probably find that some moves come more naturally to them than others, of course, and I should also note that those with knee problems may find it difficult or uncomfortable to perform the two or three moves that require sinking deep into the knees.
In some instances I wished that Neon's cueing was a little more precise; she never tells you which foot to lead with for stepping moves, so you just have to observe her closely, and during the practice sections she simply counts out the beats instead of reminding you what's coming up, which would have been helpful. Nevertheless, simply practicing the moves a few times will mitigate most of these omissions, and the routines themselves are pretty forgiving of mistakes. All of them seemed to be nicely designed for adaptability, so that those who find that they don't have a talent for the demands of belly dance will be able to adapt or simplify these moves for the dance floor, whereas those who want to do more than shake their hips will learn the best technique for doing hip drops, hip thrusts, and undulations. The overall effect is definitely sexy and fun.
The music throughout is nonvocal, so there's little distraction, and is fairly generic dance-style music that most viewers should find inoffensive. The music selections aren't very full, so they won't blow you away even with a surround system, but the audio features respectable bass and crisp highs, and Neon's instructions come through clearly. Visuals feature nice color saturation, and the image quality is more than sufficient to allow one to follow along with Neon's movements (and see her ab muscles working). Menu design is a smidgen nonintuitive: The introductory feature, "Welcome," is actually hidden in the extras menu, even though it should come before everything else. In this two-minute segment Neon talks about the way the disc is set up, the design of the program, and the benefits of belly dance. Some of the information from this segment is reiterated on the back of the package, such as the fact that high heels are appropriate for this routine.
Of the rest of the features in the extras menu, only one really counts as an extra. There is email contact information for Neon and the usual medical disclaimer for all dance and exercise programs, and "The Arrival," a dance demonstration that Neon performs against an animated background with a mystical, astrological theme. The dance is impressive, to say the least, especially since Neon is balancing a tray containing lighted candles on her head for the entire time. If you watch this before you begin the program, you may be inspired, but then again you may find it intimidating. (The actual routine you will be learning is not as advanced as the one Neon demonstrates here, nor will you need to balance anything on your head.)
Belly Dance Party is a lot of fun, and it's the kind of program that will reward practice but will still look good on the enthusiastic beginner. I recommend it for anyone who's ever found belly dancing attractive and wants to learn how to incorporate some of these notably sexy moves into their social dancing. It's also just an enjoyable light workout that will use some of your muscles in unusual ways.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: WorldDance New York
• "The Arrival" Performance
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