Saturday, June 11, 2011

killer drillz with zoe jakes

Anyone who has witnessed Zoe Jakes performing (live or otherwise), knows that this woman is the epitome of awesomeness. There are certain qualities that she embodies while dancing: confidence - without a doubt, control - absolutely, contagiousness - her power and grace just descend from the stage and grip the audience.

There are videos that show her dancing and putting a flair of comedy in her performance. Even when she's inciting laughter from the audience, that laughter is wrapped in awe. Her performance at Tribal Fest 11 that I had the honor to witness, on the other hand, was very dramatic. It was very, very grand. The dress, the headdress, the back-up dancers, the confetti, her spot-on facial expression... everything was just the right amount (nothing was over the top) to drop my lower jaw.

Zoe Jakes is perhaps one of the pioneers of fusing breakdancing with bellydance. She has perfected "ticking" (precise popping & locking) and she uses it in her performances, along with her crazy spins and turns. Meanwhile, I'm a sucker for drills. I don't really care much about choreography, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel Brice's DVDs, especially Serpentine (released by the fabulous WorldDanceNewYork who completely understands the art of videotaping and editing instructional videos and dance performances).

Unfortunately, Killer Drillz is not by WorldDanceNewYork but by Bellydance Superstars.

It's every dancer's pet peeve - and perhaps nightmare - when they bought an instructional DRILL DVD, hoping to get a clear picture of what's going on with the instructor's body so as to learn and emulate the skills, and yet the angle of the cameras and the edited video actually hinder the dancer from learning anything.

Yes. It's that bad.

There are four megasections in the DVD. The first one is the warm-up (two sections). The second one is the individual drills (with the crappy angle and editing) where Zoe briefly shows the drills with arms, shoulders, chest, and hips. The third one is the group drills, during which I don't quite know how to look. In the third one, Zoe is accompanied by several skilled dancers to mimic a classroom setting (doing drills with shimmy, chest, belly, and hip). The final megasection is the performance.

However, Zoe is facing the dancers (unlike in WorldDanceNewYork DVDs where the dancers are behind the instructor and all of them face the camera in clear-cut angle and no crazy fast editing). So, in a way, it is not really helping me. Then again, maybe it is just me and my absolutely dysfunctional sense of orientation (not sexually).

Even in the final solo performance, the editing is just crapola. Yes, yes, I totally want to see what Zoe's magnificent headdress looks like from close-up, but that doesn't mean I want to see it multiple times. I want to see what's going on with her whole body. There were instances when I gritted my teeth and took deep yoga breaths to calm myself down.

On the day I received my copy, I quickly looked at it and during my evening work out, I popped in the DVD and decided to do the Shimmy Group Drillz. My shimmy never looked so, so good. I still had trouble layering it with body undulation, but I really enjoyed the shimmy drill (it's 10 minutes and 34 seconds long, non stop).

In overall, I've only had two runs with the DVD, and for Zoe's effort, I'm giving Killer Drillz 3 out of 4, while for camera work, I'm giving it 1 out of 4.


The Raqasa said...

Like everyone else, I am a fan of Michelle Joyce's "How to Become a Killer Ziller". (I guess there are not many words that rhyme with "zills"/"ziller".)

This was a great review, good job!

famousfeline said...

Thank you! Welcome back! I hope you had a great vacation!

Alice said...

I just recently wrote a text about photographing and video shooting bellydance, I didn't really think of it being applied to instructional dvd's, but it makes perfect sense.
I was very interested in Zoe's dvd, but if you say it's *that* bad... :/

famousfeline said...

Hi, Alice! Well, it's not *that* bad. I mean, I did write that I enjoyed the Shimmy Drill section of the DVD, but at times, it was rather frustrating to see what Zoe (or the other dancers) were doing because of the angle / editing.

To think that the BDSS production house has published many belly dance videos, both instructionals and performances.

I still think that the videos by WorldDanceNewYork are unsurpassed in terms of video angle and editing. If you're looking for similar drills, try Irina Akulenko's video by WorldDanceNewYork.

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