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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Home for the holidays -- with belly dance fitness DVDs

Dear Ones --

Saturday morning, early -- Christmas week, 2008. For many of us, the holidays start now. Some of us will be on the road, some of us at home -- whether home is quiet or filled with guests. And perhaps you, like I, have realized -- no dance classes for at least two weeks! (Maybe even three or more!)

So what's a girl to do?

Perhaps we both rely on classes -- whether taking or teaching -- not only for choreography, but also for a regular schedule of practice drills and even fitness. So when our class schedule temporarily abates, we need to fill in the gap. It's either that, or get fat, out of shape, and lose both form and style! And since that is too harsh a future to contemplate, we may as well take on the alternative -- which is to practice on our own.

Sometimes, there is nothing like being by yourself, alone in your studio (or your living room, or the empty fitness room in the health club -- wherever!). Just you and your music, and an hour that you've blocked off. This can also be scary -- the "blank canvas" sort of thing.

So instead of making ourselves face an empty studio each day, let's mix it up. A little choreography time -- but also some basic workouts and drill.

I started my "official" holiday season this morning, at an hour too early to mention in public, with Rachel Brice's Tribal Fusion Belly Dance: Yoga, Isolations, and Drills: A Practice Companion with Rachel Brice. A great way to start the day! (DVD on loan from Sabira, thank you, Sabira!)

Note: You'll always be find out more suggestions for practicing at home, including links to Rachel's and other cool DVDs, along with neat collections of YouTubes and other support materials, at Alay'nya's Recommendations - Practicing at Home (Intermediate).

Rachel's DVD is really more suited for intermediate-to-advanced students than for pure beginners. She does give instruction, and she does break each technique down beautifully, and guide you through with pointers. She also repeats each move several times -- so there is not too much of a "cognitive" challenge in following her. Still, this is not really the place to learn the technique -- it is more like having Rachel in for a private coaching session.

Today, I selected the 45-minute option (Rachel presents 15-, 30-, and 45-minute sessions). We started with a basic yoga Salute to the Sun -- very basic, but well-grounded. This was followed by pelvic and rib cage isolations, and very structured body rolls (both going up and down). We followed with some final yoga stretches and relaxation in the "corpse" pose. (During the latter, there were beautiful shots of moving clouds in time-compressed video -- a lovely touch for a workout that started and ended before dawn on a cloudy and cold winter day!)

Practicing with Rachel lets us experience how she structures isolations -- and this is important if you're trying to replicate her style. Personally, I find her Tribal /Fusion/Goth/Trance style intriguing -- but not what I would do (favoring a bit more of a classic and lyrical approach). But still - practicing with her on her DVD makes it possible to incorporate little "snippets" of her movements into otherwise more traditional (read: predictable) dances. Kind of like wearing a bright red, patterned scarf with an otherwise traditional outfit - adds some interest and pizzazz!

(Rachel includes a short performance vid at the end of her practice session -- inspiring! A very similar-in-nature performance is shown on this YouTube video clip of a Rachel Brice's performance.)

Thank you, Rachel! We appreciate the hard work that went into making this DVD. You did a good job, this is very useful, and a real benefit to the dance community!