Review of Sarah Skinner’s Bellydance Shimmy Workout for Beginners

Sarah Skinner’s The Bellydance Shimmy Workout is a really smart, useful program, and one that could be adapted to a number of different dance practices. At its core are five shimmy drills of five minutes each. The idea is that you could do one a day if you were pressed for time and wanted to get a bit of regular practice in. In fact, the very last drill incorporates all kinds of shimmies, so you can work on a bit of everything in just five minutes. The drills include upper and lower body shimmies, basic bellydance moves and traveling steps, layering, and traveling with shimmies. While this isn’t a video a beginner is likely to be able to do, I do think The Bellydance Shimmy Workout is a great tool to go from beginner-level shimmies to advanced beginner and further.

 

I am personally unlikely to get my workout clothes on and the computer set up just to do five minutes of dancing. But I’m thinking maybe I should change that. And I could imagine incorporating one or two of the five-minute drills into a longer practice, perhaps with another technique or choreo video.
What I like even more is that if you play The Bellydance Shimmy Workout all the way through, it’s more than just a collection of workout segments. You have a warmup and cool down, a great strength-building drill for dance, and oh-so-necessary stretches between each of the shimmy drills. Do the full hour, and you have a real workout, but done in beautiful, dancey, WDNY-style: cardio, stretching, strength, coordination, balance, dance technique, all in one package.
In fact, I think you could even take the warmup, strength drill, and one shimmy drill and use them as a solid prep for some improvising… now that would be a fun dance practice.

The quality is, as is to be expected with WDNY, high. Sarah Skinner and her two backup dancers are beautifully dressed and well filmed. Sarah’s voice cues are right on and encouraging, with good reminders to breathe. The music is upbeat and gets your energy going for some serious shimmying – some new agey stuff, some Balkan, some clearly Middle Eastern. You also have the option of doing the workout with music and no voice cues. The variety of shimmies covered is really good – it’s not just about a knee-driven shimmy and a choo-choo, but you get to practice ¾ shimmies and the Arabic hip walk.

I do have one beef with this otherwise excellent video, though, and that’s right in the title: “for Beginners.” The Bellydance Shimmy Workout for Beginners is not for beginners. I’m not saying a beginner couldn’t work with this video and have fun, but if she expects to be able to follow along with much of it, she will be disappointed. Shimmies are hard to get. While some dancers pick them up fast, many take years to really learn the more challenging ones. They really are not a matter of watching them a couple of times and following along.
The “cutesy butt” shimmy!

The video includes a brief (circa 15 min) tutorial on the basic moves and all the shimmies used during the workout. This is great as a review of shimmies, but it’s not lengthy and detailed enough instruction for someone who doesn’t know a shimmy at all. Sarah’s teaching is clear and beautifully filmed, but you’re really not going to learn to layer a ¾ shimmy on a traveling step in a minute’s instruction. It’s just a matter of packaging. I know in the world of live bellydance courses beginner classes can go on forever and cover truly difficult material, but I think expectations are different with a video.

If you’re not an absolute beginner though, and you want a shimmy drill, this video’s the thing. I’m thinking of putting The Bellydance Shimmy Workout on high rotation. It’s exactly what I need to progress in my dance, it’s short enough to do on a regular basis but long enough to get good and warmed up, and, well, it makes me happy!

I received a review copy of The Bellydance Shimmy Workout

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One thought on “Review of Sarah Skinner’s Bellydance Shimmy Workout for Beginners

  1. Anonymous says:

    A friend gave me this DVD and it is an awesome workout. The tutorial of basic moves was a great idea…but only as a refresher. This is definitely not for absolute beginners. As my teacher told me, it could take a while to learn a shimmy, let alone sustain it. What I did really enjoy about this DVD are the three dancers and how they are all different body types. Usually they just put a bunch of skinny gals on the cover, but it was nice to see the brunette background dancer had some meat on her. It was encouraging. Belly dance is for us plus size girls, too.

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