Modern Oriental Bellydance Egyptian Style, with Ranya Renée: Egyptian style belly dance classes, beginner belly dance choreography, intermediate/advanced instruction
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The dance form known as Raqs Sharqi, or Oriental dance, has evolved over the past century, blending native elements of Egyptian baladi music and dance with Western artistic influences. Modern Oriental dance is shaped by many international influences, absorbing techniques from ballroom and Latin dance, ballet, jazz, even hip-hop. And yet, there still remains the feeling of Egypt at the heart of the dance: the openhearted emotion, the response to the music.
Modern Oriental dance is characterized by powerful technique, step combinations, floor patterns and a focus on choreography, as well as a contemporary musical sensibility. In this program, Ranya Renee, New York-based star performer and instructor of Egyptian style dance, teaches two Modern Oriental choreographies a beginner version and a longer intermediate/advanced version as the focus of this video program. Each choreography is broken into combinations that are taught step-by-step, with practice drills to get the movements of the choreographies into your body.
The two drills sections - beginner and intermediate/advanced enable you to repeat step combinations, built gradually so that you can climb the steps to mastery of a wide array of variations. A special section of the program gives you helpful hints on learning step combinations, so that you can build confidence as you learn more complex step sequences and integrate them into your muscle memory.
A vital part of Ranya's teaching method is its emphasis on musicality and on understanding the structure of Oriental dance music. Ranya points out important melodic and rhythmic features of the music accompanying each combination, helping you to sharpen your listening and counting skills, and learn how particular dance movements can express typical turns of melody and rhythm. You'll learn what to listen for, so you can respond to the music with feeling.
Ranya's holistic approach, focused on freeing your breath as you develop your physicality, will help you build connections between the music, your body, and your expression as a dancer. Special tips for performers are interspersed throughout, to coach you in relating to an audience, while executing the steps with a sense of drama and fun.
As part of the program, Ranya offers guidance in developing a strong dance posture and sense of alignment as a base for solid muscular support of new movements. Technique is described from the inside out, for a better understanding of how to fit the movements on your body, and to feel them in your core. A special technique review flow guides you through sequences of key belly dance vocabulary, classic warmup stretches, and exercises to condition the muscle groups used in Egyptian Oriental dance.
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Ranya's instruction is clear and concise and she breaks down movements very well. I would say this video is for anyone over the basic beginner stage and/or looking to learn more about how to dance with the music not at it.
It starts with a Welcome that explains Egyptian dance and its history in an overview of what will be taught on this DVD, and then you get the basic posture, alignment, and technique in detail, as well as a good warm-up.
The choreographed piece comes in 2 levels. #1 is for beginners and is much simpler and shorter, #2 for advanced/intermediate. Both include a demonstration, a step by step breakdown and "drills" for practice. Ranya has a nice habit of saying "left-right-left" etc., so our feet don't get mixed up in fast passages and weight changes. The DVD concludes with a gorgeous costumed perfomance.
Dramatic and dazzling with her mane of red hair, Ranya is a delight to learn from and watch. She dedicates this DVD to her longtime teacher Yousry Sharif, who must be so proud of her! Music is excellent and authentic, by Mohamed Ali.
The intermediate/advanced choreography is really juicy and there's lots to get your teeth into. If you already go to workshops in Bellydance, you will enjoy it. This DVd is like a friendly but firm workshop, as is the Baladi DVD.
At the time of writing this, we have lost one of our most well-loved Baladi accordion players in the UK, whose accompaniment I was lucky enough to have in my dancing. While live accompaniment to dance makes all the difference, this Modern Oriental tutorial, while not dependent on live music, still ican be a great support to your dancing and will train your musical ear. Musicians may well find it useful too, especially if they are crossing over from Western to Eastern modes.
There is also an instructional DVD by top Egyptian dancer Randa Kamel, straight from the oracle! I have used this too and found it really interesting, although the overdubbing into English is distracting. Ranya Renee Modern Oriental remains a more accessible route for Western dancers. I think this dance is actually be oming more and more international, with Chinese and Korean bellydancers joining the throng and teachers travelling more widely. It would be great to see how dance DVDs evolve along with this growing market.
Overall this is quality, with much more emphasis on Bellydance as the great art form it is.
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