I enjoyed my lesson with Aradia so much that I decided to check out Aradia’s DVD, Oriental Dance By Aradia. Besides being a fan of Aradia now, I was interested in the content, since the DVD covers Egyptian, Turkish, and Lebanese dance.

The beginning introduction gave a general overview of Middle Eastern dance and the goals of this DVD. I liked this, because she is a seasoned dancer. She mentions that the dancer is 60% emotional, 40% technique; when I met her, she told me that. I think that is important to keep in mind. I get so into getting the technique right sometimes, I forget to relax and enjoy and feel the music.

The next section was a warmup section. It was slightly odd that she did a voiceover instead of talking while addressing it. She does address the audience in the combos section.

The first style Aradia covers is Egyptian. I like that she shows a demo of Egyptian dance while she voiceovers what is Egyptian dance. Similarly, Aradia introduces the Lebanese and Turkish sections this way.

One of the strongest points of this DVD is the knowledge passed by. Not only is there a brief intro of each type, but also she shares a little bit of info while showing the combo; for instance, one of the Egyptian combos she mentions that it’s a Samia Gamal move. I also really like that Aradia tells the dancer where the weight should be (left or right) and mentions foot positions. Another nice feature is that after teaching the combo, Aradia demonstrates the combo to music.

The combo teaching I’m not sure how I feel yet. She does the combos broken down both forward and backward. She then performs the combo together without and then with music. She doesn’t do a lot of repeats in either direction. I was able to follow, but if you prefer to work slower, perhaps you should note what she did first and then try it (that’s what I’m planning on doing). Having not worked through DVDs much, I’m not sure if this is the nature of them or a stylistic choice. I’m not sure personally what I prefer yet. Aradia covers a lot of combos in 1.5 hours. I like that she is giving me my money’s worth by covering so much, rather than repeating 2 combos for a long time. However, you will most likely have to repeat the sections in order to learn them.

While I know the DVDs for dance are geared towards dancing, I wish there had been more history information in this DVD. I personally love the academic side of Middle Eastern dance. Aradia, from what I know, did a good job of going over this.

This DVD is definitely not for the beginning dancer. I do think it is excellent for a more intermediate to advanced dancer. This DVD is definitely something I will watch again and learn from.

Happy 2009! I hope everyone had an awesome New Year’s Eve. I mself had a very quiet one in, which was nice.

Since I’m a goal-oriented person, here are my goals in physics and dance this year. I hope that they will guide me along.

  • Do well in school. Enough said.
  • Practice more and incorporate other things into practice. I basically want to start really incorporating more yoga into my practice. Since my schedule is weird because of school, I’m also looking to start using DVDs as a supplement to my practice. I will write about the change of mentality with that later.
  • Complete my thesis defense by August.
  • Save money to go onto a trip. I haven’t done a long vacation in a while, so this is really an award/treat for me.
  • Practice Odissi on my own. I miss Odissi a lot, and I have the book that my teacher wrote, outlining many steps or arsas. I feel like I understand enough of the posture to at least be able to drill and keep the strength in my legs.
  • Gain proficiency with tribal dance and learn Turkish Oriental. I love Egyptian Oriental, but I am interested in spreading my wings and trying other styles. Tribal I’ve been doing, but I’d love to be better. Turkish is very new to me, but I love the energy in it. Since my overlying goal in dance is to eventually become some flavor of professional, I’d like to increase my knowledge.
  • Expand and refine folkloric and lesser known Middle Eastern dance. I loved what I did with Aradia while I was in Vegas. I want to learn whatever I can this year. Raqs al assaya (cane), melaya leff, anything.
  • Attend as many workshops as possible. Disappointingly, there has not been much word about workshops in Chicago and making it to other workshops outside of Chicago is difficult. However, I hope everyone just got so busy with the holidays that they haven’t posted events yet.
  • Practice zills and veil. I really would like to be better at both. Zills done well are just amazing and veil is so beautiful.

Not being a gambler or much of a drinker/party person, Vegas was perhaps not the most fitting place to go. However, I was curious and figure I should see it once. I wanted to see the bright lights and an Elvis impersonator. I also had left the city of Chicago in about 6 months, so I thought I should leave for a bit.

img_09762My vacation was actually really good for my dancing. Despite being quite sick the bulk of the trip, I had a 2 hour private lesson with Aradia of Las Vegas. I only heard of her from Bhuz, which is a shame. I think she’s one of those kind of hidden jewels in the dance world. I felt really comfortable with her, even though I just met her. She’s incredibly sweet, friendly, and humble. She seemed to really enjoy herself teaching.

My lesson was on Hagallah, Persian dance, and a brief intro to Turkish Oriental. I love the “folkloric” dances, so this really exciting for me. Aradia is very knowledgeable on what she teaches; I learned as much historically as I did about combos and style of dancing. Until I had emailed her, I had no idea that she could teach these things. My familiarity with her was that she was a cabaret dancer, not someone who was also a folkloric dancer. It just goes to show that it never hurts to ask someone.

I liked the Persian and Turkish Oriental the best. The Persian dancing she taught me had more theatrical elements to it; for instance, she taught me how Persian dancers will act out doing their makeup during slow parts of songs. As much as I love dancing to the music and just feeling the drums or the violin, I prefer somewhat of a story or a mood for dancing. The Turkish Oriental is different from what I’m used to with Egyptian Oriental. Turkish is bigger and more energetic. Having done Egyptian-based technique for so long, I found doing the Turkish really difficult, even though they were moves I was familiar with. Hagallah was fun, but going into it, I didn’t know that it was a coming of age dance. Since Aradia studied this dance under three different people, she has solid knowledge. The hagallah felt much like the Aida Nour workshop dances; very simple but intriguing.

I saw a Cirque du Soleil show, Mystere, while there. I wasn’t expecting to be inspired by it in terms of my dancing. The attention to detail was breathtaking in the costumes. The performers were always in character, even if they were rather difficult to see (balcony singers off to the side). The physical movement was gorgeous; they weren’t just performing stunts but doing artistic work. I haven’t read much about the show, but there was some kind of story or theme in it. Adding that really blended everything well and made a cohesive show that could amuse a child or an adult. I know I can’t do a show of that magnitude, but I’d like to do a show that’s powerful and can reach so many people on different levels.

Now I’m back to the daily grind, with about 2 weeks left of vacation. Time has really flown.

I’ve had very little training in Turkish-specific bellydancing. All except one teacher I’ve had favor more Egyptian style. How to Make Your Husband a Sultan, despite its Orientalist/playing into harem-fantasy name and cover, is really fun to dance to.

The CD provides a very good mix of speeds and rhythms, providing different moods of music. You can be adorable with Tin Tin or more introspective with Taksimler. The music is mainly instrumental, but unlike some instrumentals, there’s a lot of variety in the songs. Within one song, you’ll experience the differences in music, which creates a much more interesting piece of music. This isn’t something you just meditatively groove to. You have to listen to the instruments to catch the changes. Luckily, they seduce you into wanting to listen and feel what they’re playing. For those of you who use Emusic (which is where I got this), the clarity of the sound is excellent, too.

My chief complaint is it’s rather short. The CD stands at about 37 min., which is pretty short. However, I’d rather have 37 min. of music I love than 60 min. I’m neutral towards.

I’d give this CD 5/5 stars in a heartbeat.