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Sensual Bellydance, with Blanca - Beginner Belly Dance
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Sensual dance... you know it the moment you see it. It radiates from deep inside; the dancer’s whole body flows like silk, her movements are beautifully interwoven, breathing with meaningful, effortless grace. The ability to move fluidly in this organic, connected way begins with an intuitive knowledge that arises when we are sensually awake. Sensuality begins inside: It is your enjoyment of the world and your own physicality as perceived by your senses. Sensuality radiates outside: When your mind is receptive to physical pleasure, it translates your sensory experience into sensual movement, giving a fluid, languid, mesmerizing quality to your dance. As a form of body language, dance speaks the truth of your thoughts and feelings. In bellydance, sensuality has always been one of the most highly prized qualities. Aware of your sensual joy, your audience instantly knows that you are "comfortable with your body" and enjoying yourself. This allows the gift of your dance to be experienced on a higher, richer level. Sensuality is not a special talent or skill—it is present in all of us. The task is to discover it, cultivate it, and translate it from an internal state to an expressive, easy-to-understand language of dance movement. In Sensual Bellydance, Blanca, a star bellydancer in New York City acclaimed for the languid, effortless, intoxicating quality of her dance style, shares her ways of expressing sensuality and of adding the flair of sensual grace and ease to every bellydance step - from basic to more evolved. The core of the program is the Sensual Bellydance Flow [beginner-intermediate] - sequences of steps building from simple isolated moves to layered. Footwork, arm/hand patterns and head angles are gradually combined for the effect of total coordination and effortless control. Sensuality is translated into dance through "connectedness" — the wave-like echoing and interweaving of movements. A special section of sensual poses and fluid transitions is designed to improve your pacing. Slowing the pace into a still pose helps you to learn measured, uncluttered dance phrasing: In sensual dance every movement is distinct and meaningful; every phrase has its highlight. This section offers the “music only” option — you can follow Blanca’s voice prompts, or enjoy the music-only 40-minute non-stop flow of dance combinations. In the Technique section Blanca offers a step-by-step breakdown of the movement vocabulary for the Flow and introduces her core method: Progressions —the gradual layering of bellydance moves on footwork with a special attention to body and head angles, arm positions, and patterns. The last section includes a step-by-step breakdown, a demonstration, and two performances of Blanca's "Venus" choreography [intermediate] - a perfect opportunity to practice sensual bellydance!
From the Contributor
On this DVD, I teach how the ability to move fluidly in an organic, connected way begins with an intuitive knowledge that arises when you are sensually awake.
Sensuality is your enjoyment of the world and your own physicality as perceived by your senses. When your mind is receptive to physical pleasure, it translates your sensory experience into sensual movement, giving a fluid, languid, mesmerizing quality to your dance.
As a form of body language, dance speaks the truth of your thoughts and feelings. In bellydance, sensuality has always been one of the most highly prized qualities. Aware of your sensual joy, your audience instantly knows that you are "comfortable with your body" and enjoying yourself. This allows the gift of your dance to be experienced on a higher, richer level.
Sensuality is not a special talent or skill--it is present in all of us. The task is to discover it, cultivate it, and translate it from an internal state to an expressive, easy-to-understand language of dance movement. In Sensual Bellydance, I will teach you how to bring that languid, effortless, intoxicating quality to your dance, through sharing my own ways of expressing sensuality and of adding the flair of sensual grace and ease to every bellydance step you take - from basic to more evolved.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Blanca is very pretty, very serene, with a soft accent, which sounds very soothing. She's not perky with a huge grin splitting her face in two and she's not all bouncy and bubbly, none of that instant best friend vibe, just pleasant and serene.
It's a sensual dance instruction and she wears her part very well. The settings are very nice, not distracting, and she wears great costumes for teaching (you can see her legs when she does the moves). You can also see her perform the dances in full costume and she's very lovely to watch.
My husband really liked the music and the dance style for its sensuality and slow, languid movements. I watched one of the dances first and thought, 'wow, I'd like to move like her.' She moves like liquid, like silk, whatever elegant, graceful, flowing metaphor you want.
Instructionwise, she breaks everything down very well, from snake arms, using a lot of descriptive terms (like your arms are moving through honey, is one example), hip circles, figure 8's, and so on. Then she builds on these initial, isolated movements, and you learn more layers, combinations, steps, and build on and on. She even explains alignment, how to align your head, for example, to look more graceful. It's a bit like the Jillina dance instruction dvds, in how she gives you the basics and you build on and on until you are doing a choreographed dance. And of course you can skip and just do the basics or dance along with her, or just watch Blanca, which is what I want to do in addition to learning to dance like her.
The music is very nice too and the dances are slow and languid, nothing super fast, but your muscles will feel it nonetheless. It would be fine for beginner dancers or for intermediates. She doesn't spend a huge amount of time on each move, so you do get a lot for 2 hours, but you can always rewind 15 or 30 seconds and review.
I've got 20 to 30 bellydance dvds and vhs tapes at home and while I've seen and worked out to a lot: Mara, Jillina, Bellytwins, Kathy Smith (just that one), Bellyqueen, Bellydance Superstars, Suhaila, East Coast Tribal, American Tribal and more, I still am very happy with the dvd. It's shot a good angles (not distracting or only focused on the abs), the production is very good, and it's a nice focus on flowing dance. It's not something you pop in to learn a couple moves for the club, but a lovely sensual routine to stretch and dance to. Venus is the right name because it is very sensual and elegant and beautiful.
For me there are a few telltales if the money I've invested in a video will be worth it. Here is what I look for:
1. Quality/fame of the instructor
2. Lenght of intruction
3. Producer (NY and IAMED being my favorite)
4. Target bellydance level (beginner/intermediate/advanced)
5. Instruction or fitness
I had some information about 1,3,5 but nothing about the rest, so I wasn't entirely sure what exactly to expect. It came as a nice surprise when I popped the video in the ROM, pressed "play all" and saw Blanca seated on green grass offering some introduction in her crispy accent to what she was about to teach. I always consider it a plus when they spare the time for a few words to say about the product and its concept.
Next we see Blanca in a brightly lit studio with red curtains. Even though her outfit is red as well, it never blends with the background, so everything can be seen very well. Her belly, hands and feet are visible all the time, very important while learning bellydance from a video.
The first part of the DVD is entitled "FLOW". In the first few chapters Blanca breaks down the movements in the second part in segments, offering a warmup, articulations and a cooldown. She goes slow, without any repetition, just pinpointing the important aspects of the movements. She uses a lot of visual descriptions and comparisons which makes it easy for students to imagine and copy her style. The influence of Ayshe and Jehan Gamal is evident in the entire DVD too.
Blanca pays a lot of attention to the "articulations" section. She would first show step patterns, then elaborate hip and chest movements, then completes the combination with hands and glances. A student can easily see all segments of a particular movement and observe the gestures and hints that make it look graceful and fluid.
In the flow sections all are tied together accompanied by Blanca's explanations. This is a faster paced section and the stress is not on the mechanics of the movements but how to string them up and elaborate a combination or give it a little spice. Next you can play the entire flow section voice off, only with music. It allows for great practice.
The next section is a choreography entitled Venus. Blance performs it first in the beautiful red costume from the cover and after down breaks it down in several combinations, calling out the movements as she goes through them. She offers very little instruction here, instead falling back on what she already taught previously in great details. After that you can follow Blanca as she dances in her training outfit, with the music on only (no voice).
The next section is what makes this DVD truly unique. In it the choreography is shown once again, this time names of different poses pop up as certain movements are highlighted. It provides a great vocabulary of movements and also gives you a chance to observe and compare different gestures, steps, poses, glances, all these subtle hues that make bellydance sensual bellydance. Following Blanca's articulations from the first section you can get inspired to build your own combinations and choreographies.
In the next chapter Blanca performs the Venus choreography again, this time in a different costume and with voice-over. She offers a "story" that the dance may tell, of the expressions and meanings of gestures and their ultimate source.
The last section of this DVD is two beautiful performances by Blanca, one of them the Venus choreography again she covered with a story and the DVD points out helpfully it includes floorwork. This part itself is short and light, indeed demonstrating the difference between sensual and sexual (as we know why it is banned in Egypt).
Music and credits are the last two options you can check out.
A few words to sum up the contents:
-- Excellent instruction. Beginners would be very pleased with the slow and detailed explanations of the movements in the first section; intermediate and advanced can review it once or twice and then skip on straight to the practice section without getting bored
-- Original and interesting choreography
-- Inspirational and creative atmosphere
-- 120 min run time
This DVD is good for students of all levels of bellydance, though I definitely would not suggest it to anyone who haven't mastered the fundamendals (such as hip lifts and undulations). Late beginners would find a lot of material to work on and progress; intermediate and strong intermediate are offered fresh ideas and concepts in addition to an entire choreography.
I would definitely recommend this DVD to all dancers. It is exteremely good value for money and a must-have in every serious student's collection.
After the "Welcome," you get a technique breakdown of the steps, followed by 40 minutes of Flow Warmups, which can be practiced with the verbal explanation or just followed with music only. This "Flow" section would be a great substitute for those who regularly do yoga or Pilates, and would like a change of pace, as they are excellent for exercise as well as being aesthetically pleasing to do, and promote flexibility and strength without stress. The production is excellent, and total running time of the entire DVD is 120 minutes, and you are sure to enjoy all of it.
Born in Mexico, Blanca has a soft accented voice and is articulate in how she shares her technique and ideas about bellydancing, some of which could be helpful in many other genres of dance. Blanca's style is unique and incredibly graceful, and she also exudes a sweet spirit, taking her dancing to another level we will sense in our own souls. The final 2 tracks are of Blanca performing, and are exceedingly beautiful, and make a marvelous end to a superb dance instruction DVD.
After this intriguing introduction the DVD package offers viewers a little bit of everything from technical tips to improvisational ideas to polishing ones performances. First come two different "Flow" sections, one on technique and one based on simply dancing. Then Blanca presents a short choreography. There's a demo, a breakdown, and you can even choose to focus on just one part of the practice such as lower or upper body. Next Blanca provides a selection of clips demonstrating a variety of poses, providing watchers with numerous ideas they could add into their own repertoire. And there's also an additional invaluable resource where Blanca explains the idea of telling a story with dance. This is wonderful for performers seeking a way to give their performance extra "oomph" and also nice for those dancers just beginning to seek the stage lights.
As for the "meat" of the DVD, here's a bit of info on the Flow sections:
"Fluidity Warmup:" From the very beginning of her "Fluidity Warmup," Blanca begins to introduce her concept of "sensuality in dance." The gentle warmup and stretches include some very nice arm work as Blanca explains how to do each stretch in a "sensual" manner, that is with impact and purpose. While Blanca moves through the movements quickly she clearly explains the focus of each (lifting the head, bending at the waist, etc). Although each tiny little flourish may not be broken down, an intermediate level dance could easily follow her clear display of movement. In addition to the stretches, Blanca uses the warmup to review a variety of basic movements including hip slides, reverse mayas, hip circles, and single hip work.
"Technique Articulation:" During this section of the DVD, Blanca explains the nuances of the movements she uses in the combinations. This section is also designed to help you work on your articulation for each movement, improving your range of motion, strength, and balance while dancing. These movements are sort of "mini drills" that would work quite nicely for cabaret dancers.
"Technique Shimmy:" Similar to the articulation section, Blanca gives viewers a separate section for shimmy work. Included are very detailed tips for creating a shimmy that is controlled and matching the music as well as breakdowns for the various shimmies and layers she uses later in the program.
"Technique Progressions:" Here Blanca reviews a number of layered traveling steps. Beginning with the footwork, she later adds on arms and additional hip movements.
"Technique Sensual Poses:" This final section is the cool down for the DVD. Blanca dances through the cool down as the viewer follows along, demonstrating several of her unique poses. Each movement (like snake arms, hip circle, etc) is not broken down, but Blanca does explain each pose clearly.
The next part of the DVD is the "Flow" section. This part is divided into the same headings as the "Technique" and provides viewers with the chance to simply dance along with Blanca. For the most part, the material is the same as that which was covered in the technical sections, although there is some additional arm work, but this time it is fluid and presented as dance movement. The DVD has an option to follow the "Flow" without Blanca's voice-over and with just the music. There is roughly 40 minutes worth of material, here, providing the viewer with what amounts to her or his own personal class in "sensual bellydance."
The choreography is surprisingly long for a DVD that already has so much information. As mentioned above, the combinations are demonstrated and explained after Blanca performs the full piece. The combos are rather quickly shown but all of the information has already been broken down in the Flow sections. Blanca's work is a cabaret piece with a lot of emotion and a great practice work for those seeking to learn to put more expression in their dance.
What worked for me:
* I really loved the way Blanca breaks down movements. She uses a lot of visual imagery and creates a clear picture of each move. Blanca even uses some really creative visual aids to impart her ideas.
* Separate technique sections. This was really nice as a dancer could go to each section and just review that particular part (so working on the transition/progressions as opposed to having to go all the way through a choreography like in some other DVDs).
* The pose idea section - it was great to see the different ideas for poses and, also, to see some of them executed in different ways.
* The inclusion of so much information about performing. THANK YOU! So many DVDs now focus on technique, but there are very few that mention performance and even fewer that do both!
What may not work for you:
* If you are not used to opening your stance a bit as you dance you may find some of these movements and combos to be challenging. Blanca's movements are lush and full, often requiring a fairly open stance in order to really get the look of the move.
* I stress again that this is a DVD for more experienced dancers. A baby belly may become quickly overwhelmed by the speed at which the material is covered. However, there are definitely concepts here that will benefit new dancers, and this is certainly a production that they could "grow into."
* The red backdrop/lighting. The hues reflecting on Blanca are pretty, but after 40 minutes can make your eyes a bit fuzzy.
I am so glad that Blanca chose this aspect of bellydance to teach as the slower, more sensual moves of Middle Eastern dance are often overlooked on instructional dvds. She has a very gentle voice and is soothing to listen to. I also like her demeanor. You never get the sense that she is condescending to the viewer and, thank Heaven, she doesn't resort to making those annoying repetitive extortions to "Keep up the good work" or - worst of all -"Come you! You can do it, I know you can!"
The performances by Blanca are mesmerizing. Her movements are very fluid and she seems to be connected to the music at a physical level. She is the embodiment of sensuality.
I've only scratched the surface of what this dvd has to offer but I know it is going to be my number one practice companion for a long time to come.
Well done, Blanca and World Dance New York!!!!!