Okay, I'm going to confess something: While I've been spending much of my time lately talking about bellly dancing and celebrating belly dancing because of my novel, I haven't actually belly danced since, well, before my daughter was born in May. Scandalous, isn't it?
This is one of the few times in the past 20 years when I'm not in a class, I'm not part of a troupe, and I haven't even watched one of the dozen or so belly dance DVDs I own.
Until last night, that is.
"Dark Fusion Bellydance -- The Ascend Tribal Dance Format, with Sashi" has been sitting on my desk since July. Every time I looked at it, I've made a silent promise to myself to give it a go when I'm not feeling so tired (with an infant in the house, sleep is scarce) or when I'm not feeling so out of shape.
Well, last night I finaly stopped procrastinating and slid it into the DVD player.
Instantly, I remembered all over again why I love this lady's classes.
Not only is the production quality top-notch (great sets, perfect sound levels, professional camera work), Sashi has organized the material to make it all very easy to use and access quickly. The DVD begins with her warm-up sequence, including dynamic stretches and yoga, to get your muscles ready for a work out.
Next up is a segment explaining the terms common to tribal fusion belly dance, and I had to smile when she covered her method for keeping her students in proper posture because it was one of my favorite parts of the class I took from her awhile back. She calls out "knees," students respond "bent"; she calls out "pelvis," students respond "tucked"; she calls out "shoulders," students respond "rolled"; she calls out "chest," students respond "lifted"; she calls out "Lookin'," and students respond "hot" -- now, how could that not make you smile?
Then Sashi proceeds with moves that will be familiar to most belly dancers -- hip drops, hip slides, pelvic tucks, vertical figure eights, hip rotations, three-quarter shimmies, chest slides, chest lifts, chest drops, shoulder rolls, chest circles, camels -- yet she imbues each with an attitude that is uniquely her own. Then she moves on to moves that are signatures of the Ascend Tribal Bellydance Format. Moves with names like Lolita Arms, Ophelia Arms, the Tribal Sigh, Predator Arms, Invocation Arms, Embracing Arms, Enticing Arms, Conjuring Arms, Kitty Foot, Pinup Foot, the Raven, the Seraphim, Chest Triad, and the Industrial.
After each move is described and broken down (and Sashi is very good at articulating exactly what the body should be doing), she demonstrates it to music, making it very easy for a dancer at home to pause, rewind and watch again and again until the move is mastered before moving on to the next.
Then she presents four Ascend Signature Combos: the Mean Carrie (I'm guessing at the spelling here...), the Nice Carrie, Wishful Thinking (I love the name of this one), and the Lolita Combo.
That wraps up the instructional portion of the DVD, but there's still more. Viewers are treated to a dramatic performance by Sashi in her full Gothic Tribal Bellydance regalia, and you'll be able to identify many -- if not all -- of the moves she's covered in her instruction and see how wonderful and expressive they are when executed well.
And then there is a great interview with Sashi that really shouldn't be missed. Not only will you have an opportunity to hear from Sashi about how she became a dancer, and specifically a belly dancer, as well as her philosophy on the dance, you might be amazed to learn that when she was a teen, Sashi experienced a medical condition that left her temporarily comatose and then paralyzed from the neck down for two and a half months. I know I was.
"I wasn't expected live, let alone walk," she says. "I had to learn to walk again." This revelation left me dumbfounded. I can only imagine the determination and hard work it took to get from learning to walk again to the wonderful, exquisite dancer she is today. And it turns out, dancing actually helped her rehabilitation. "It taught me how to reeducate my body," she says. "I found a different way to get my brain to figure out how to make my body move."
I found that to be such an incredible and inspiring message. Humbling, too. How embarrassed I suddenly was for all the times I told myself I couldn't dance because I was tired and still had too many pregnancy pounds... Sashi's story really helped me put that in perspective.
For that, I owe you a big thank you, my friend :-)
Here's a peek at "Dark Fusion Bellydance -- The Ascend Tribal Dance Format with Sashi":
For more information, including how to order, visit Sashi's Web site at www.ascendtribaldance.com.