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Darrin's Dance Grooves [VHS]
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Learn some of the hottest dance moves you've seen in music videos, award shows, and concerts from the likes of Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and Jordan Knight from this 55-minute video. Darrin Henson moves with limbs of taffy as he teaches the energetic and innovative moves he choreographed for the biggest celebrities. He breaks down the patterns into individual moves, then quickly puts the moves together, and then you perform the pattern with video clips from the stars for whom it was choreographed. Great fun! Unless you're blessed with instant recall, though, you'll need to rewind segments of the tape frequently to learn the moves. And unfortunately, Henson cues his own "right" and "left" instead of the viewer's (the opposite, because you're facing him), so you have to continually reverse his directions in order to mirror his moves. Recommended for limber, experienced dancers--coordination required! --Joan PriceSee all Editorial Reviews
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The majority of the moves are fairly simple by themselves and easy enough to pick up by watching him. The challenge lies in the speed with which they must be performed and put together. However, there were some advanced movements that really needed to be broken down very slowly and explained. But again, we are infringing on his time and he doesn't bother. I suspect he spent a lot more time teaching the routines to his crew of professionals than he did with us.
I agree with everyone else's criticisms. The camera angles are bad, cutting off the feet at inopportune times. He should have taught one routine all the way through, rather than bits and pieces from several. He faces you and calls out his own right and left. I knew this going in, but it proved to be harder to compensate than I thought it would be. Darrin doesn't call out the direction of his turns at all, and I found it really difficult to figure it out with him facing me. I actually enjoyed Darrin's interviews. However, it seems this material was not included to be an extra feature, but to fill in and make up for the too-brief instruction time. With the DVD, is it possible to skip these sections and go right to the dancing. But unlike every other DVD I have ever watched, the "menu" button on my remote doesn't work on this one making it difficult to navigate even though there is a menu.
I suspect this DVD was never designed to be a real teaching tool, but a teaser to get us to attend Darrin's dance seminar. This DVD has the potential to needlessly crush your confidence in your dance abilities, or at least give you a good beating. I don't think it is a complete waste of time, I like the moves. Just don't expect to be able to follow him easily unless you are a very experienced dancer or have a natural gift for learning choreography. Not because the moves are too hard for you, but because he doesn't use good teaching techniques.
The interview is interesting if you're planning to try to get professional gigs as a dancer or choreographer. I would have preferred if they'd fixed the DVD where I could avoid it. The seminar highlights are lame--too fast and too promotional to be of any pedagogical value.
Darrin Henson has that intangible quality of movement that separates gifted artists from merely technically proficient dancers. As a result, he's a LOT better than his backing dancers, and they end up being kind of distracting. Especially since the dancers always stand in the same positions relative to Darrin, so we end up seeing the same cheerleader-ish girl up close through the whole video and rarely seeing any of the other 7 dancers. It would have been nice if they'd mixed it up a bit.
The film work on this video is flashy, but doesn't really add anything to the pedagogy. There are a number of times where the camera focuses on the same upper body movement during subsequent cycles and never lets you see Darrin's legs. It seemed careless. Again, I would have preferred Darrin alone and more camera angles. You never see any of the movements from behind or the side except when the dancers themselves turn.
All that said, the choreography is terrific and Darrin's teaching style is polished and professional. It's basically a master class for a really terrific price. If you're a moderately experienced dancer, you'll easily be able to fill in the gaps where the camera angles fail.
The first three routines focus mostly on upper body work with relatively simple footwork. The steps are easy to do but very hard to do fast or with anything resembling proper style. If you're not at all familiar with poppin' and lockin' you should practice isolation independently before starting--this does not cover beginning technique. There are some fancy steps in the last couple of routines--still simple for anyone with a jazz background but to do them with polish and panache will take lots of practice.
Kudos to Darrin overall though; I'm waiting for the sequel.
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