REVIEW BY ZAMIRA
The DVD starts out with nice chaptering, with the titles on a papyrus background and a picture of Randa, and Egyptian music playing in the background. Some people don't care, but I like little details like that. The main menu has Technique, Choreography Instruction, Performance of Choreography, and Bonus Features. For the technique and the choreography parts, she teaches in a large room with a mirror, so you can see front and back views. There's a disclaimer on the video that it was shot in less than perfect conditions in Egypt, but really, it's fine. She's in focus, she's not dancing in the dark, the camera holds still, and you can hear every word.
The technique section has a break-down of some of Randa's favorite moves, and she points out a lot of little stylistic things, like how she holds her hands or her head. She does break the moves down by explaining whether her hips are going up or down, where she places her hands, etc. She doesn't go into the anatomical detail that so many American instructional videos do now, like pull from your obliques, contract your psoas, etc. The moves in this section are actually pretty basic, but it's nice to see her style and hear her dance philosophy. Then there's a section in which she demonstrates her favorite dance combinations to different dance rhythms played by a live drummer. This part isn't really broken down, so you just have to watch a few times and follow along. Finally, there's a rhythm section with no dancing. The drummer just names each rhythm and plays a few measures.
Then there's the Choreography instruction. It seems pretty long. There are 8 sections, and I've only gotten through two. Once again, she demonstrates the steps slowly with the sort of general explanation she used in the technique section. So far, the hip work is pretty simple, but the foot work and spins seem fairly intricate to me, so this choreography will probably keep me busy for a while.
In the bonus section, there is an interview with her. I haven't watched the whole thing, but I like her no nonsense attitude. At one point, Natasha asks her if she thought it was her destiny to dance. Randa said something along the lines of, "Yes, because I love to dance, I made it my destiny. If I didn't like to dance, I wouldn't do it." The whole choreography IS long and fast. There are eight sections, but there is one part that repeats like a chorus between each new section, so it's not an impossible amount of material to learn. There are a few combos and moves I feel like I picked up pretty easily, and a few I'll need to watch carefully a lot more times, which is exactly how I like a video to be - with stuff I can put to use right away and a reason to go back to it after the first couple times. Be aware that Randa's style is very forceful and sharp. There were a lot of shimmies, a lot of prancing steps, and even a couple jumps. There was nothing in this this choreography that I hear people describe as "ooey gooey." Just to give you an idea of her style, when she's explaining how to do one type of shimmy (the one that I've heard Americans call a running shimmy or a choo-choo shimmy), she says something like "Don't just move your feet. You really want to pound the floor hard."
Then, under the bonus section, there are two live performances, one from the Cairo Mariott and one from the Nile Maxim cruise boat. These aren't little three minute teasers. These are full 25 and 30 minute performances. The one on the boat does sometimes have tables in the way, or waiters walking in front of the camera, but the one at the hotel shows Randa on an open stage and is cleaner camera work than I've seen on most of the straight performance videos of Egyptian dancers.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this video to anyone interested in Egyptian style dance. Considering the contents - technique, a full length choreography broken down in detail, almost an hour of live performance footage, and a 10 minute interview, it's an excellent value. If you pay attention during the teaching sections, you can even learn to count from 1 - 8 in Arabic. :)
REVIEW BY NASILA
I bought the Leila one at MECDA's festival the day before I was performing that song (Esmaooni) and it was really helpful to have an section where Leila interprets/translates sections of the song. There is also an interview with her and a huge bonus section of her dancing on the boat!! I thought the DVD was well-made with lots of extras.
REVIEW BY TAMMY
Just watched all 3 DVDs. They are definately worth buying and I really enjoyed the video content and dvd quality. I especially enjoyed the Diane Tarkan DVD. It was jammed pack with instructional material on it. It is longer then the Leila and Randa DVD. The Diane Tarkan dvd has 2 choreographys, instructional to each choreography (broken down in sections /DVD chapters), plus she performs each choreography in a costume. In the beginning of the DVD, she has a technique section. Plus the DVD has show videos of Diana dancing in Alexandria, Egypt. I have always admired Diane's dancing, since watching her on the Raqia Hassan technique videos. Someday I would love to take workshops by her, but in the mean time I'll study & enjoy this instructional video. Each DVD teaches a choreography on it (except Diane's, she teaches 2 choreographys). The choreography is broken down in sections (dvd chapters). Then the entire choreography is performed, then the dancer performs the choreography in costume. Each DVD has a interview with the dancer and show videos of the dancer performing in Egypt (this part is like having a whole show video of the dancer). The Randa DVD covers technique exercises (she breaks down her style of shimmy) and drum solo technique by a drummer.