Lurainya’s Guide to Bellydance is an excellent resource for beginning students and teachers alike. Lurainya, a gorgeous belly dancer from the Philadelphia area, is known for her smooth, ethereal veil work and her graceful, sensuous aesthetic. In her first teaching DVD, she takes viewers through 90-minutes of isolations, traveling steps, combinations, drills, and a rousing performance. This jam-packed DVD introduces a basic vocabulary of movement in the ancient art form.
Lurainya’s Guide to Bellydance is professionally assembled and produced. The DVD jacket, for instance, features lovely photography and a nice layout. Although transitions between sections of the DVD could occasionally be choppy, the setting Lurainya chose for teaching, her close-up demonstrations, and her use of a student model with a different body type are all excellent. (In fact, I would have liked another couple of models, all with different body types, to show that the dance really is delightful on everyone.) Although the hip scarf Lurainya chose to wear in the DVD is beautiful, because it is dark, it is occasionally hard to follow some of her hip moves.
Lurainya’s strengths as a teacher are her commitment to good posture and an obvious love and respect for Middle Eastern dance and for women. Early in the DVD, she recounts that she tells her students that belly dance is for every woman’s body and they need to remember that they are perfect just the way they are. (I would have liked a couple more sentences on this nice touch of self-empowerment, but I am partial to the feminist aspects of the dance.)
Lurainya’s dance technique is very strong. The moves she teaches are perfectly pitched to challenge a beginner. Because of limited time on an instructional DVD, all teachers have to decide between review time and coverage. Happily, Lurainya opts for the latter. Although the average viewer will have to rewind and play the isolations and steps repeatedly with music in order to master them, Lurainya encourages students to go at their own pace, breaks down the moves well, and covers an extraordinary number of them. She teaches head slides, head circles, shoulder rolls, shoulder shimmies, snake arms, wrist circles, rib slides, vertical torso circles, belly rolls, undulations, hip sways and shimmies, twists, small hip circles, hip lifts and drops, 3-point turns, a range of traveling steps, challenging and fun combinations, and much more.
Even better, the DVD is so engaging and well done that I found myself wanting still more. More time to practice the drills. More helpful information about transitions between moves–an area in which all dancers struggle. More veil work–one of the areas in which Lurainya excels. I think that is the student in me, who eagerly awaits the intermediate and advanced versions of “Lurainya’s Guide to Bellydance.”
Lurainya’s dance teaching DVD is more ambitious than most and, I believe, more successful than most as well. It is an outstanding accompaniment to live teaching, a program students can enjoy on days when they are not in class. (You can buy the DVD at www.moongypsy.net.) Lurainya’s sincere teaching persona is as good as those of the very best belly dance teachers. I will recommend Lurainya’s Guide to Bellydance to my students, and I recommend it to you.