Delilah's Bellydance Workshop
Volumes I and II
Belly Dance Video Review
by Victoria Anderson
These videos by Delilah, the widely known and highly respected Seattle-based dancer, will undoubtably take first place in any dancer's library. Delilah's many years of private teaching and live workshops have been distilled into a two volume video gold mine.
The tapes are well produced with strong, clear sound, well-focused color visuals. The musical accompaniment was written expressly for the tapes and is representative of the imaginative and modern style of bellydance music developed by Steven Flynn. (For those seeking bellydance music with a new twist, Flynn's music is also available on cassette and CD.) The pleasant narration is by Delilah, who is also the only dancer to appear in the production, except for those in the lovely and highly evocative montage of still photos that leads into Vol. II of the set. Delilah appears in a variety of costumes and settings and, although there is not a section on choreography, she is also shown in several brief dance segments which provide an example of how the individual dance movements can be united in a fluid whole.
The video format, with its opportunity for endless repetition at home, makes it possible to present an intense concentration of material at a fraction of the ultimate cost of live instruction. These tapes offer full advantage of this opportunity. What would ordinarily take many more hours to teach live is condensed into three hours of tape because the number of demonstration repetitions has been limited. If the student does not immediately grasp the movement, the tape may be rewound and replayed. The two-volume course includes over one hundred movements. There is enough on these tapes to provide new challenges, refinements, or renewed inspiration for many, many months, if not years. Taken together the tapes are a tool to work with throughout a bellydance career.
Volume I begins with what Delilah calls a warm-up "ritual." It is a holistic exercise of the mind, body, and spirit and introduces the visualization and extension emphasis that is present throughout these videos and sets them apart from the ordinary teaching video. Delilah warns the student against performing "mindless repetitions" and encourages the development of a spiritual "dance persona" and the use of mental images to call up the intensity which marks great performance.
Following the warm-up is a section on slow movements of the hips and torso. The movements are skillfully presented through a novel technique of visualization. For each movement Delilah draws a pattern on a blackboard which is then mentally projected onto the floor or a wall. Following Delilah's example, the lines of the pattern are then "traced" with the hips. The technique is as amazing in its simplicity as it is in its effectiveness. Delilah taps the physical ability to perform a movement by insuring an understanding of the concept of the movement. Left to observation alone it is difficult to comprehend an instructor's movements, but with these vitalization techniques even a complete novice could learn the dance from just the tapes.
The remainder of Volume I provides a foundation for, and examples of, a myriad of hand and arm movements and also covers the use of zills. The zill section is very thorough and clear. The rhythms of different types of bellydance music are presented so clearly that even those without previous musical training will be able to become competent with the zills. As with the other parts of the dance, Delilah has simply made the zill work so clear that mastering it becomes but a matter of taking the time to build proficiency in what she has taught.
Volume II continues the workshop with instruction in fast hip movements and in dancing to the rhythms of Baladi, Masmoudi, 6/8, and Karshilama. In the section devoted to the individual dance rhythms, Delilah uses the effective techniques from her zills lesson to guide the student to an intimate understanding of the musical demands of each dance while she teaches movements particularly suited to each. The tape concludes with a section on veil work, an area in which Delilah is an acknowledged master and in which she obviously delights.
Both tapes in the set are excellent and it would be a mistake to categorize them as simply as beginning versus advanced since both tapes hold great benefit for the advanced dancer as well as the beginner. While each volume stands alone and has its own unique value, the set as a whole is required in order to obtain ultimate insight into the dance. What makes these tapes a joy to learn from is that the teacher shares not just her instinct and feeling for bellydance but also the results of an intellectual analysis of the dance that allows her to communicate movements as precisely as a mathematics formula.
The only honest criticism of these works would really be more of a note of encouragement as it is to hope that Delilah will follow these tapes with a Volume III comprising lessons on the choreography of the dance. Lest hopes be falsely raised, please note that this reviewer is not informed as to whether that is even a consideration at this point. However, it would seem to bring full-circle this exceptionally fine production. Congratulations to Delilah, Steve Flynn, and Visionary Dance Productions.
Available through Visionary Dance Productions, 4115 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, Washington 98103 / 206-632-2353 or visit our Instructional Videos page to order
$49.95 plus $5.50 Shipping, or $89.95 plus $7.00 Shipping for both.