Review: Shamira’s Bellydancing: The Sensuous Workout

Bellydancing: The Sensuous Workout is wonderful, if you know what to expect from it. It’s not super long (46 min), and it won’t fulfill every desire, but it does what it does very well.

This is one fierce costume, if I do say so

Let me start with the negatives, and save people some money. Do not get this video if you want:

– A high intensity workout. It’s not, it’s just not. I do break a sweat sometimes, especially if I try to follow along with her arms, but you won’t feel challenged if you dance regularly.
– Thorough bellydance instruction. It really helps knowing the moves before, though she does introduce them in the “Basic Movements” section. I advise using this after another video, even after her Sensuous Workout 2.
– Lots of bellydance moves, complex technique.
– Shimmy work. Her shimmy section is very short. The video is much better on circles, hipwork, traveling steps and turns.
– Finally, and this is the reason I took off a point, while there is a warmup, it’s short (no neck stretches, for example), and there’s no cooldown. So you have to add to that on your own. Also, I really think every bellydance video should go over posture, just as a matter of course.

However, this video is fantastic if you want:

– A light, not too strenuous way to get moving and have fun. It might be a good way to start an exercise program, or to get moving if you’ve been sick or not dancing for a while. I have much fancier bellydance videos in my collection, but since dancing is my hobby, not my life, I wind up playing this one much more than I ever expected to. It’s just great when you’re not that energetic, you don’t want to strain your back or knees, but you want to get moving and feel the spirit of the dance.
– A sense of the grace and beauty of bellydance. Shamira’s style is not to string together a hundred movements in ten seconds, so if that’s what impresses you, get something else. She uses a few movements (especially in this video), but she puts them together in a lovely way, and gives you a sense of how you might make combinations out of them.
– Easy traveling and stationary combinations. It’s nice practice.
– Incredible hands and arms. It’s funny: to me, the loveliest part about Shamira’s dancing are her hands and arms, but she doesn’t really talk about them on the two Sensuous Workout videos too much. If you’ve got the steps of the video down, try following along with the arms — it makes it much more challenging, and gives the video the potential to be used for a longer time.

To conclude, Shamira’s dancing, even in this “workout” DVD, represents to me much of the reason I first got into bellydancing. She’s graceful, expressive, and playful. I think even dancers who know many more moves than are represented on this DVD can stand to learn a lot from her, if they pay attention.

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