Review of DVD#9 in Zaghareet Magazine! and more photos

I wanted to share this new review with you about my #9 DVD, Tribal Grooves and Combos!
I find it intriguing that Thalia, the reviewer, keeps calling the moves choreography, but she is not a tribal style bellydancer, so that seems to be her terminology, for what we call steps for improvisation! Everyone has a different viewpoint, and although I may not always agree with her about my DVD, I believe she came at this with an open mind and heart and is very fair in her critique and praise.
And on we go…

plus at the bottom of the review I have included some extra photos from the video and photography shoot with Cinzia, the other dancers, and myself, taken in Italy October of 2010! enjoy…

Tribal Technique No. 9
Cultivator Press, Paulette Rees-Denis & Gypsy Caravan Dance Company
by Thalia del Fuego

This DVD is designed for intermediate to advanced dancers, and it builds on the moves learned in previous DVDs from this series. The format includes a warm-up, an instructional segment, two practice sessions, and a slideshow and discussion at the end. It features music from the Gypsy Caravan CD, Remarkably Remixed.
The full body warm-up features many familiar yoga poses, such as ragdoll, down dog, seated forward bend and king dancer/ lord of the dance pose. The inclusion of moves that strongly engage core muscles — such as plank, boat pose and one-legged forward bend — is a real bonus. Such moves are rarely featured in a short warm-up. Despite being only ten minutes long, however, this warm-up is of professional quality and is suitable for serious dancers. It provides an effective format for stretching and elongating the muscles.
While the warm-up itself does not include vigorous movements that will elevate your heart rate, the following segment moves straight into the fast-paced choreography section. Although labeled “instruction,” this part of the DVD does not feature the typical slow-paced, repetitive practice format. You will be immediately doing vigorous moves such as traveling hip bumps, basic Arabic layered with shimmy, ghawazee and Arabic “hip hop,” also layered with a shimmy. All moves are done at-tempo with no pauses. The high-quality music in this section features very strong drumming with minimal instrumentation. While we do not see drummers on stage, it has the feel of live drumming. This gives an energetic, upbeat quality to the whole choreography section.
Paulette’s teaching style is the follow-me continuous motion so typical of tribal style. All of the moves are done at tempo. She does not feature break-down, shortened segments with repetition, or pauses. While this makes the instruction more challenging to follow, this DVD is, after all, intended for intermediate and advanced dancers. Keep in mind that the combinations are built from familiar steps that you will easily be able to do, particularly if you have worked with Paulette’s earlier DVDs in the series. In addition, the combination is presented with a rear view as well as a front view.
Some dancers will find this teaching style hard to work with. On the other hand, there are several major benefits to it. First of all, it provides a good aerobic workout, which most instructional DVDs do not due to the constant stopping and starting. Secondly, it demands your full attention and holds your interest, so you will be less likely to feel tempted to “just take a second” to answer the phone, take the chicken out of the freezer, check on the kids, etc. Furthermore, this format is consistent with tribal technique and the “in the moment” experience espoused by Paulette.
The practice section is actually a repetition of the same choreography. However, the dance is performed by Cinzia and her troupe of Italian dancers. Their excellent posture and precise hip moves provide a great model for the student. From the sidelines, Paulette cues you, naming the upcoming moves and providing reminders about proper posture, etc.
One advantage to this DVD is that many of the arm movements are basic and therefore easy to follow. The combinations are also built from basic moves that are not difficult to learn. Despite this, the combinations are interesting and likely to captivate you from the start. The choreography features repeated pivot turns, which you must coordinate with frequent changes in hand position, as well as hip moves that change at the same time. The hand moves are the finishing touch to the choreography; they add polish, and guide the viewer’s eye so that the audience is never bored. The wrist flicks, in particular, are very quick and will present you with a challenge as you work to synchronize all of the simultaneous moves.
In this DVD, we are not dazzled by elaborate backdrops or sophisticated lighting. Paulette’s teaching style is very earthy and straightforward. The introduction is also bare-bones.
Although I was initially disappointed by the lack of an upbeat, inspiring introduction, I did find the discussion at the end interesting. I was pleased to hear Paulette emphasizing the importance of being “in the moment,” and trusting yourself and trusting the other dancers working with you. This combination of trust and sharp focus allows you to connect effectively with other dancers and move with them. It is also the basis for the art of improvisation. As Paulette explains, this combination of factors helps to bring about the magic of tribal dance.
There are some aspects of this DVD that could be improved. The fact that the moves are not labeled on screen makes it more difficult to locate what you want. The practice sections are also presented in two long segments, rather than being broken up into pieces. Again, it is rather tedious to find the point where you left off if you have to stop and re-start.
This DVD is well worth the purchase for the interesting choreography it teaches. However, it does not provide some features available on many other DVDS: breakdown of the moves, a separate drill section, pointers on stage presence, or a cool-down. Dancers on a tight budget who can only afford to purchase a few DVDs should take this into consideration.

Thalia started belly dancing as a teenager, and has enriched her dance experience with classes in yoga, pilates and other dance forms. Thalia is certified as a personal trainer and yoga teacher. She has a keen interest in proper body alignment, good breathing technique, and in the power of dance to heal the body, mind and spirit.
Thalia has relied on videos and DVDs for her daily workouts and for supplemental dance instruction for over two decades. You can contact her at . You can see more of her reviews on and


You can purchase this DVD, and all the rest of our fabulous tribal goodies at

and here are some of the photos from that day…yes, see what happens to us gals after a full day of dance work! we, too, get a bit wonky!

thanks my friends…

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