Bellydancing with Zils, by Elsa Leandros, featuring Raqui Danziger: Finger cymbals dance how-to, Belly dance rhythms instruction, Belly dance classes
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Created by renowned New York City choreographer and dance instructor Elsa Leandros, Bellydance with Zils teaches the foundations of using zils (finger cymbals) in belly dance.
Together with the amazing doumbek player Raquy Danziger, Elsa demonstrates the 7 most popular belly dance rhythms: baladi, saidi, maksoum, masmoudi, ciftetelli (slow Arabic-style and fast Turkish-style), karsilama (9/8), and gypsy-style karsilama. Elsa and Raquy alternate demonstrating the rhythms on doumbek and zils, offering a clear comparison of how zils and drum each interpret the rhythms.
Elsa moves step-by-step through the logistics and foundations of zil-playing for dancers, including her technique of alternating hands in interpreting rhythms on the zils (compared to designating a leading vs supporting hand.) This powerful technique allows greater speed than the common leading/supporting-hand style of zil playing (enhancing performances to modern fast-paced music, such as Arab pop) and improves coordination between zil playing and dance steps by eliminating the one-sidedness of the leading/supporting-hand style.
Next, Elsa breaks down each of the 7 rhythms as interpreted on the zils and offers exercises to develop speed and freedom of hand and arm movement while playing zils. In addition, Elsa provides a number of dance steps and combinations for each and every rhythm, and leads a session where steps and zil playing are combined and practiced first with counting and then with music.
A special Practice with Music menu allows users to play the music selections Elsa chose for practice, and to drill zil patterns and steps on their own.
Two performances by Elsa demonstrate the intricacies of the art of belly dance with zils: Elsa dances to a modern Arabic pop-style song, and performs a drum solo with Raquy Danziger and Brian Carter that demonstrates variations in interpreting multiple rhythms and how to respond to drum riffs on the zils. The video of the same drum solo without dance or zils is also on the DVD for your own practice of how best to interact with live drumming.
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Watching belly dance and musical performances is a great aspect of this DVD and even if you are not in the mood for dance lessons or fitness, taking a look at these might inspire you to get up and start moving. Drummers Raquy Danzinger and Brian Carter join star/instructor Elsa Leandros and play some traditional Middle Eastern beats on a drum called the doumbek, as Elsa demonstrates dancing and using the zils (finger cymbals) in both coordination and contrast of the drum beats.
Elsa is a methodical yet fun instructor, and though she does speak with an accent it is not so heavy that it cannot be understood and tends to add to the special cultural tone of this how to belly dance video. Elsa covers basic belly dance steps that both beginners and advanced students of dance fitness can use, and goes into great detail on exactly how to place the zils properly on the fingers. She encourages people to dance simply while using the zils, which in my experience actually heightens the cardiovascular workout.
Unlike some of her sister belly dance and music instructors, Elsa does not simply demonstrate a move and then go on to the next. She is great at repetition without making it boring, which is a treat when it comes to try to do three things at once: exercise, learn special dance moves, and get a little more musical at the same time.
Other Sections Rating Excellent
A performance of just Elsa dancing with the zils is very moving and inspiring, and begs the question of how long it takes to dance and play the finger cymbals with such fluid precision.
For those ready to try their own dance and finger cymbals combination without Elsa on the screen, there is a "music-only" section that allows the now-experienced dancer and zil artist to practice and see how much they really know.
However, I think it would be easier for the viewers to practice, if the combinations were demonstrated in front of a mirror.
I find her way to teach how to play the zills very interesting but I think that there is one problem: the zills I bought don't have the same sound. So the 'tek' sound of the right hand is a bit different from the 'tek' sound of the right hand. It is important to check that first, otherwise the rhythm won't sound as it should.
Zill patterns with no lead hand. Once I learn how to play them better it will be much easier to follow the drills.