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DVD Review "Meaning in Movement: Dancing with Musicality, Texture and Nuance"

by Safran

Many dancers are faced with the question of how to really dance instead of just performing a sequence of technical elements. This instructional DVD starring Alimah and produced by Michelle Joyce addresses that question by showing how to add intention and emotion to the movements.

The DVD consists of three parts - concepts, combinations that will later form a choreography, and bonus performances. The concepts' section consists of 16 short chapters concentrating on some more obvious topics like breath, hands, level changes etc., but some also carrying more intriguing titles like Zippers, Bowling Balls and Leaving the Spine.

Alimah uses a lot of comparisons to explain the meaning behing the movements. You won't hear any worn-out explanations on this DVD, instead she is being very creative with descriptions for example Champagne Bubble Shimmy, Honey and Peanut Butter Texture, and School of Fish Hands.

Having a musical background Alimah also draws a lot of parallels between dancing and music - at some point she even brings out a violin and plays it to demonstrate the different textures of expression. The concepts' section also includes three fun creativity exercises to help you to give different flavours to your dancing. Most of the concepts' section is not something you can dance along to - instead it gives you ideas to use when dancing and designing your practice sessions.

The concepts are concluded by the Flow, where Alimah goes through most of the Concepts to music. It is a rather fast-paced exercise, so it might take you a few times before you can really follow it. To make it easier the titles of concepts are displayed at the bottom of the screen accordingly.

In the next section of the DVD Alimah teaches eight combinations. Each combination has been given a name to characterise it - for example Greet the Dawn for a smooth and stretching combination and Time Travellers for marking floor patterns. Each combination is first broken down, then a walk-through of the combination is provided before practicing it to music. The combinations are rather long, however they are well explained.

The combinations come together into a choreography. In the walk-through Alimah explains the order of combinations, and the names of the combinations are provided at the bottom of the screen to help along. However, when it comes to practising the choreography this aid is not given.

The choreography contains a small part where you can experiment yourself. At the end Alimah will perform the choreography in a costume. The bonus performances show Alimah dancing to three different pieces. Although Alimah is a beautiful dance it is difficult to watch the performances due to the rather monotone music. At moments I was caught thinking that she is dancing to different music, which has been dubbed over for the DVD.

As for the practical side the DVD is produced in a simple but good manner. Alimah's movements are visible against the light backgrounds and the combinations are filmed in front of a mirror, which makes it easy to follow. Occasionally there are minor mechanical noises that are caused by Alimah's microphone, but it does not disturb the watching of the DVD.

I would definitely recommend that DVD to intermediate and advanced dancers who want to add some emotion into their dancing without the threat of over-acting. The running time of the DVD is over two hours and it will keep you busy for a much longer time. It is not one of those DVDs which you can just put on and bop along to. This DVD demands your attention and effort and you will get to work with it for quite some time.