Originally posted on my old Livejournal account, this review is from 8/27/08 and was titled “Transformation then Liberation” (a quote from The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth by Creature Feature).
The VHS cover
Back in the beginning of 2002 I picked up the Goddess Life Introduction to Belly Dance VHS. It was pretty bad. Dolphina, the hostess, is a complete New Age flake, and the people directing/editing the video seemed more interested in making pseudo-artistic wank-material for teenage boys. BUT. I was just coming away from a really nasty break-up (the very first in my life that left me upset, rather than relieved) and I wanted to feel pretty. Plus, I’d paid WAY too much money for it. So I plugged along, teaching myself the moves as best I could when what I needed to see were hips and feet, and what I actually got was a screen full of chest.
Once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing, it was actually a pretty good workout.
Although I did the video pretty regularly for a while, eventually my work outs became sporadic, and I’d go weeks, and months between viewings. Somewhere down the road–while on an exercise kick–I picked it up cheap on DVD and, while I was at it, picked up the Beyond Basics or “Warrior Goddess” DVD to go along with it. I only did the Beyond Basics DVD a few times before I once again got bored with my belly-dancing/fitness hobby, but it was a much better work out DVD. As with the first DVD, Dolphina’s costumes changed with each set change, but unlike the first DVD, there was only one set for the bulk of the work out, and a similar, but distinctly different set for the cool down. Most importantly, I could actually see what she was doing. During this period of fresh enthusiasm for the Goddess Life work outs, I added the Finger Cymbals and Veils DVDs to my wishlist.
A couple of years ago I received the Finger Cymbals DVD as a gift, but was so out of practice at that point, that I decided to refresh myself on the first two DVDs before I attempted this new one. Good intentions, blah, blah, the road to Hell, blah. I know.
So here I am in Virginia, on a serious exercise and fitness kick, and with big hopes of maintaining said fixation for the rest of my life. I’ve been biking a lot, as you know, and Micah and I have been rock climbing a goodly bit (although not as much as either of us would like, I think)… but I’ve also been doing a lot of workout DVDs. I’ve already raved about my new Go-Go Robics DVD, but I’ve only mentioned the Goddess Life DVDs in passing.
That said, they’ve been a pretty big part of my day-to-day life lately. If I’m not working (and therefore biking), I usually either do Go-Go Robics, or both the Introduction to Belly Dance and Beyond Basics DVDs (minus the first cool down and the second warm up). Go-Go Robics is an incredible cardio work out, but I’m seeing a lot more tone and strength building as a result of the Goddess Life DVDs.
The full DVD set.
In any case, although I did go to work today, I only biked in one direction–a friend was kind enough to give me a ride home, since it was pouring when I would have left. After a somewhat indulgent dinner at a local Ethiopian restaurant (anyone have any clue about WW points values?) I decided that I shouldn’t just blow off that extra hour of exercise. I considered doing the first two belly dance DVDs, but I just did those yesterday, and it didn’t seem like the best way to use my time today. On the other hand, on this dreary, rainy day, I wasn’t at all sure I had the energy or stamina for Go-Go Robics.
In the end, I put on the Finger Cymbals belly dance DVD. It was… well, it began with a Mudra warm-up. It didn’t feel like much of a warm up, but what did I know? We were going to be using our hands a lot, so maybe this was important. Maybe my hands would cramp up if I didn’t do this. Maybe this is something I should start doing before I go climbing. How as I to know? To be honest, I don’t think it made a difference, and I’m willing to bet Dolphina made-up or at least badly butchered their meanings. Next she taught a few rhythms. She did this by associating each pattern to a phrase. Now, for my own money this was irritating and obnoxious… but then again, I’ve been able to read music since I was eight or nine. I’d much rather learn “one, two-and, three, four,” than “I am-a godd-ess” Still, I’m willing to concede that in this context it’s an easy way to teach those who may not have any kind of musical background, and makes it easier to refer to each pattern later on. Okay, fine.
At last! The workout. This is really just adding the cymbals to moves that I learned in Introduction and Beyond Basics. Which is fine, and more or less what I expected of the DVD. The work out itself lasts maybe twenty minutes and then it’s back to the Mudras for a cool down. All told, the DVD lasted about half an hour and I didn’t even break a sweat. I’m glad I have it, and I think I’ll see about sneaking the “work out” portion of the DVD between Introduction and Beyond Basics the next time I do it.
I like the idea of including the cymbals since I think this practice will make me a more versatile dancer, but it’s just not a work out by itself. I’m hoping that the Veils DVD (when I eventually get my hands on a copy) will be a bit more of a workout, as it seems like there will either be new moves to learn, or at least more practice of old moves to incorporate the veils. Maybe I’m terribly wrong, but it seems like a bigger and more complicated addition than finger cymbals. If I’m right about that, maybe I’ll break these two off into their own work out… but for now, at least, I think Finger Cymbals just gets incorporated into my current belly dance workout.