Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hips of Steel

Far from being skin deep, real beauty comes from good health. Some of the topics I plan to address include skincare, diet, and exercise. A wealth of tight, toned muscles can do wonders for one's posture, carriage, and general face to the world.  I can think of few more serpentinely acrobatic sets of such muscles as those belonging to Rachel Brice, founder and choreographer of The Indigo, one of the most famous tribal fusion bellydance companies dancing today. Bellydance has been part of my workout regimen for the past four years, especially the darker, snakelike movements of tribal fusion with its earthy textures and sharp locking punctuations. Tribal in particular will develop one's abs, glutes, and arms into steel traps if practiced frequently. Bellydancers often practice yoga and pilates for flexibility and posture, which brings me to the DVD I am going to review for this segment, entitled Yoga, Isolations, and Drills: A Practice Companion with Rachel Brice. (For those not familiar with the hypnotic feats Ms. Brice can perform with her abdomen I am including a short video for your viewing pleasure.) The DVD's menu is broken down into three practices.....15, 30, and 45 minutes. Each segment begins with a yoga warm up consisting of sun salutations, lunges, and locust pose. Then Rachel conducts the video in voiceover format in a very matter-of-fact, instructional manner which has gained a lot of criticism for coming across as 'not very warm.' I say screw that, I want to be molded and shaped by the best, not invited over for tea and crumpets. A dancer's 'warmth' factor means little to nothing to me. Anyway, depending on which length practice you selected, she will break down hip locks, chest locks, chest slides, bellyrolls up, bellyrolls down, hip circles and pelvic locks. I think the main misconception about this dvd is that is for beginners because the information is very 'basic' which is a really skewed idea about who this is intended for. This was actually the first bellydance dvd I ever did, but it really isn't for beginners. Anyone interested in learning beginning bellydance would do well to try out classes with live instruction first so as to be corrected and adjusted so you don't form bad habits right off the bat, but barring that I will include a list of dvd titles at the end of this topic. The audience this is intended for is someone who already takes classes and wants a practice COMPANION to do drills and more drills to build the muscle memory necessary to execute the building blocks of tribal movement to perfection. Many other reviews of this instructional lament in all caps that "OMG this is sooooo basic OMG I expected more from Rachel OMG my five year old chinchilla can do these moves." These are all wildly missing the point. She is showing you how to drill your basics so you can build upon them. She has been quoted as saying her secret is simply to drill moves until she has them so well they begin to look otherworldly, which is a mild way of putting what it is that she does with movement. The practice comes to a close with a yoga cooldown. All in all I am a big fan of this work. Ok so let's say you think that's great and all but are just looking for a good intro and are not quite ready to practice with the Brice machine....I am a big fan of Ariellah's dvd for tribal ( because it is very thorough in its instruction and breaks down the movements in detail. She also takes you through some combos and yoga practice. Some of my very favorite bellydance dvds include: Rachel Brice Arms and Posture, Tribal Fusion Bellydance with Sharon Kihara,  Tribal Drum Solo Choreography with Zoe Jakes, Tribal Fusion Fundamentals, the Suhaila series and Fat Chance Bellydance Advanced Workshop. Stay tuned for more posts on various fitness topics, including Jivamukti Yoga and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.
And now, a small treat for you!:


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