13 Feb 2014 Leave a Comment
I saw this performance live at the ATS Residential, and it was breathtaking. Not just because of the lovely slow quality of the movement, or the musicality, or the pretty lines she drew, but my favourite part was that she took the time to make good eye contact with people, and yes, it did look as if she was looking at YOU, not at anybody else. That gave the whole performance a very personal and mesmerising quality, which I really enjoyed.
Do yourselves a favour, ignore the small window here, head over to YouTube, and watch this at full size, HD, because it is worth it.
04 Feb 2014 Leave a Comment
Let’s start with the technical aspects.
- there’s two dvds, one for single fan, one for double fan
- there is a trailer for the dvd you’ve just purchased at the start of each DVD. Not real information, just the trailer you can see on YouTube and that probably prompted you to buy. I can’t really see the point of this, not doubled.
- the DVD was filmed and then voiced over. There is no instruction from Jehan while doing it, so sometimes the voice over talks about doing something and the image has moved way past that and into something else
- the single fan dvd has a warm up; very pretty arms and hands movements on this, among other things
- the costumes that Jehan wears throughout are black; this wouldn’t be that much of an issue except that she’s standing in front of a black theatrical curtain, and particularly the begining is lit in a rather “creative” way. The image is clear (on the demonstrations, I’ll tackle the performances separately) but while I understand the black costumes to attract the eye to the fans, with the black background and the lighting it can get a bit lost sometimes. Also, the skirts are obscuring the leg movements.
- the “chapters” in the first dvd are Trailer, Warm-up, Instructional Single Fan, Close-up tips and tricks, Performances, and Promos
- the chapters in the second dvd are Trailer, Instructional Double Fan, Performances, and Credits. This means that if you want to go to a particular section of the instructional where she does something, you will have to fast forward from the beginning or fast rewind from the performances, because the instructional itself isn’t broken down; this is a particularly annoying problem, because throughout the video we are encouraged to stop and practice on our own, but if we have to leave the DVD on pause or have to ffw every time, it can get tiring.
I am writing instructional between quotes because I don’t believe this is anything of the sort, except maybe a small section at the beginning and the Close-up tips and tricks. We are told how to handle the fan in the opening section. Told about flutters and figure eights and circles (with lots of affirming thoughts about your beauty and the sacred shapes and whatnot). And… that’s about it. The rest of the 40+ minutes on each DVD demonstrates combos but doesn’t really break them down or go over exactly what is happening, let alone why. Barrel turns? rapid turns? dervish turns? You can see them, there’s some token “you should let yourself go in a trance-like movement” but on the technical implementation of it? You’re on your own (as an aside, I recommend Petite Jamilla’s double veil instructional or Ashe’s Wings of Ashe videos for this). Turns with a gypsy kick? mentioned with a word about “getting to them later”. They do get to them… just to show them again. I didn’t see any explanation of what was meant by that. On the double fan dvd there’s an explanation on how to do a “sun barrely turn” and the explanation amounts to “do a barrel turn with the fan held this way”. Yes, this isn’t a Bellydancing 101, I wasn’t expecting that, but since the props do affect the way you might want to carry out certain movements, even a glossing over the technical differences would have been welcome.
A lot of the combos shown are basically using wrist circles, figure eights and flutters, and we’re shown a few with a comment on what is happening. But as I said, while the audio is fine, the voice is quite often not on time with what is going on.
There’s also a lot of repetition of the same thing with different colour fans or with different in and outs. There are also quite a few cuts that fade to black before we get to see the final pose or result.
It all has much of a feel of a session where Jehan decided to show people what can be done, as opposed to instruct people on how to do it. However, the cherry on top for me was when approaching a poi-like move. We are told about the sacred dance uses of the poi in New Zealand, but when it comes to explain the not-so-easy 3-way weave, which could REALLY have done with a breakdown or slow explanation? We are told to look it up on YouTube. I’ve just purchased an instructional video that is telling me to look up how to do something on YouTube, there’s irony for you.
The Tips and tricks on close-up are a good idea, particularly the opening of the fans. I wasn’t too keen on the headband hold, for reasons that are amply demonstrated with the impromptu beehive gained by the dancer using it on the Gypsy Fire performance. But for the most part? It felt a lot like common sense and nothing you couldn’t figure out with a bit of a play by yourself.
Also, technically… I am no expert with the fans, but I found the tendency to leave a fan “dead” while doing something with the other fan a bit disturbing, as it didn’t look aesthetically pleasing, at least to my eye; a small gentle flutter would have sorted that out, but that wasn’t explored. And some of the movements and combos shown required very vigorous movements that, again, aesthetically were questionable. I am not sure how comfortable I would be trying to include them in a routine of my own.
Finally, the camera seemed to focus a bit too much on Jehan’s ample bosom, or on close-up of the fans but without a real grip on WHAT to show that is of interest to us (like the swirling of the hands). This was distracting, and while it happened often, it wasn’t a constant occurrence.
- some performances were obviously filmed with low quality video; the editors tried to compensate for this by adding blurry filters that are frankly distracting
- one performance has sections that were filmed and then edited to show backwards; obviously whatever is happening on the screen can never ever happen on a stage.
- another performance is very obviously shown in slow motion, but the music is at the right speed; this is another example of something that can’t be achieved on a stage.
- yet another performance suffers from a case of creative editing, where for some reason there are cuts with a “hypnotic” swirl, and then we see the performance has gone, in the space of 1 seconds, from being flat on the floor swirling closed fans to standing up with open fans and in the middle of a swipe movement. There is no obvious progression from one to the other, and lead me to think that it wasn’t as much a full performance as several bits that were “knitted” together with the editing.
overall? It’s worth buying used, and worth watching a few times, but I have strong doubts on how suitable it is as an instructional. I would definitely not recommend it, and gave it the 3 stars because obviously the production values are good. You can check the trailer for it below.
(the above is a copy of the review I left at Amazon.com when I first purchased this DVD, back in 09/2011; I would like to add reviews of the fan veils DVDs I’ve got so for completion’s sake I’ve added this one)
31 Jan 2014 2 Comments
You can get a better view of the costume on the photo on the left. I wore an off-the-shoulder stretch velvet choli which I made myself, a necklace that was cleaned-up and re-worked to have all new stones, one of my gemstone bindis -with a garnet-, the stripey pantaloons from Belladonna’s Bouduoir that I spoke about earlier, and a big fluffy red skirt that I mentioned reshaping for my hips ages ago. My cover-up is a lovely piece of Egyptian Assuit that I got some time ago, intending on using it for costuming, and that, when it arrived, I couldn’t face cutting. It’s very lovely and soft!
In the video you can see my teacher and her usual dance partner doing the drum solo; the students (J and me) did the slow song. The whole experience was very enjoyable, and I should be posting a review of the Residential and other things that came out of it pretty soon. In the meantime, enjoy!
30 Jan 2014 Leave a Comment
Just been using this circle skirt calculation script for myself on and off, and I decided to add it to the website. Basically, it’s a small script that allows you to enter your waist, the length of the skirt you want in centimetres, and the amount of panels you want to use for the skirt, and it will give you a calculation of how big you need the inner and outer radius of your semi-circle panel to be. Or for those not math-inclined, the translation: how big the “hole” in the middle needs to be to accommodate your waist, and how big the semi-circle needs to be, using the amount of panels you want to use.
The script calculates things on the fly and does not collect any data, so I will not see anything you enter.
Hope you find it useful!
24 Jan 2014 Leave a Comment
in InspirationIt’s been a while since I posted an inspiration set, but it’s been mostly because I wanted something different… We all have our favourite dancers, but I hadn’t found any “new” dancer that I wanted to feature here yet, for some reason or other.
Today’s is Mona Amar, a dancer whom I hadn’t seen before. Needless to say, aside from really enjoying her performance, I am completely in love with her costume. SO flattering, such a great use of materials, and yet again more stretch lace and minimum decoration… I definitly need to get moving with my stretch lace costume next, and that mermaid cut with the contrasting colour on the bottom looks amazing… time to put that rolled hem overlocker to work! And if you neeed any more good ideas for costumes, take a look at the one on the left!