the essence of tribal style at its finest…a review of DVD #10!

I  am honored to have had my #10 Tribal Technique video, Snappy Intermediate Combos, Turns and Partnering Ideas. reviewed in the latest issue of Zaghareet Magazine! It is always good to hear how others feel about the work I do, because I try to bring the dance to you in a way that best gives you the tools. DVDs are second best, of course, to getting the real live thing! This was a fun DVD to make with fellow dancers Nina and Sienna from Australia, and I love the tribal steps on this tenth video in my series…Thanks to Zaghareet Magazine and Thalia del Fuego for taking the time to check it out…


Tribal Technique No. 10

Cultivator Press with Paulette Rees-Denis & Gypsy Caravan Dance Company

Review By Thalia del Fuego

Taking Tribal Global #10 DVD label RGBYou won’t find any high-tech lighting effects, flashy introduction, or elaborate sets in this DVD.  The lighting and background are basic, and there are no sophisticated camera angles.  Don’t expect to be overwhelmed, either, by a tribal dance star so glamorous that she seems to come from another world.

Instead, you will find that Paulette has a down-to-earth personality.  The whole DVD has a comfortable feeling of camaraderie and sisterhood that is liable to make you feel that you are in your best friend’s living room, rather than in the presence of an internationally known belly tribal dance star.

The subtitle of this DVD is “Snappy Intermediate Combos, Turns and Partnering Ideas.”  I would agree with the title.  Paulette, Nina and Sienna partner very well, whether they are facing one another, both facing the audience, or dancing with back to the audience.  Transitions such as change in lead dancer are seamlessly woven into the combinations.  Paulette continues to demonstrate her mastery in creating combinations that allow two or three dancers to work together with fluid motions that are reminiscent of the waves in the ocean.

It is a joy to watch the synchronized movements of Nina Martinez and Paulette, particularly the arm work.  Paulette is a master at gracefully framing the body, and combining turns with beautifully shifting, fluid arms.  She seems to have an intuitive sense of precisely the right moment when the arms should be shifted, and the precise change in angle that will give the best effect.

The warm-up consists mostly of familiar yoga moves such as forward bends and down dogs, but Paulette has included some of her own dancer’s stretches.  She sets a quiet, focused tone right from the beginning by instructing you to close your eyes, breathe and feel your center.

The technique section follows, but it is not split up into separate parts, making it challenging to locate specific moves.  Here Paulette gives instructions about specific steps which were taught in previous DVDs from this series.  She leads you through them several times, giving cues, but not counting out the beats.  Some steps are not broken down at all, but others, such as the Arabic box, are broken down more thoroughly.

The practice section is split up into 4 parts, with Nina and Sienna demonstrating in the first three parts, and Paulette joining in for the last section.  Paulette provides cuing only for the beginning of each series of steps, throughout this section.  There are both pros and cons to the lack of more detailed cuing.  On the one hand, a dancer who relies on cuing may find herself getting lost halfway through the step series. On the other hand, a more experienced dancer who is “getting it” can more deeply experience and internalize the dance by feeling the cues in the music.

This is, after all, an intermediate level DVD, and dancers at this level should be starting to learn how to rely on instinct and muscle memory more and more.  Furthermore, this DVD is specifically designed to build on the moves learned from the previous DVD’s in this series.

There are some drawbacks to this DVD.  For example, it is very difficult to locate specific sections.  There are a limited number of chapter headings on this DVD: play all, warm-up, technique, practice, drills, and slide show.  While these sections are labeled on-screen, the headings are shown very briefly and are easy to miss if you are not careful while fast-forwarding.  Each of the four practice sections is labeled on-screen, but again, the titles are shown very briefly.  Beyond this, there is no on-screen labeling of specific steps or sections.

The visual production quality is satisfactory, but not top-notch.  A black background, coupled with the black T-shirts that the dancers are wearing, makes the moves a bit harder to distinguish.

The music provided by the Gypsy Caravan band is enjoyable, but the sound quality is extremely variable.  I watched the DVD a number of times on both of my home DVD players, and repeatedly found that the chapter selection page has a normal volume.  However, the music is just a faint hum in the background during the warm up, the technique section, and the beginning of the practice section.

When I played it on my computer, I turned the volume settings up to the maximum, and found that the sound quality improves somewhat throughout the practice section.  By practice section 4, I found that I could actually hear and enjoy the music, even though the quality still was not ideal.  However, when I returned to the main menu page, with the volume at the same setting, it became unbearably loud.  I find this to be a serious distraction for a dance instruction DVD.  Even as you are trying to learn the combinations, you will be struggling to hear the musical cues that help you know when to switch steps.  The inspiring, energizing effect that music generally provides for the dancer is, unfortunately, missing during much of the DVD.

Given these drawbacks, should you still buy the DVD?  That is a personal choice.  If you are on a tight budget and do not own other DVD’s in this series, you might choose to buy some of the others.  If, on the other hand, you admire Paulette’s work, already own other DVD’s in this series, and love her partnering style, you might choose to invest in it anyway so that you can enjoy more of her inspiring work.

My own feeling is that Paulette’s work beautifully embodies the essence of tribal style at its finest.  Both the choreography, and the sisterly manner in which Paulette so generously shares her work, are an inspiration.  Once again, she has made me yearn to learn more about tribal, so that I can share this joyful sisterly style with my own students.

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

 *Published in the March/April 2013 issue of Zaghareet Magazine,

~~~~~~~~You can purchase the DVD here!

or the digital download of #10, here


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