Monday, 26 May 2014

The Occidental Dancer 14 DVDs in 30 Days Review System Vol. 4

For Vols 1, 2 and 3 in this review series, click here, here and here.

Shimmies with Khalida 

Bellydance Instructional Series Vol 2


Why do I own this DVD? 

Because Khalida is awesome and sent it to me to review. MONTHS AGO. This is therefore long overdue. In addition to being a great dancer who produces worthwhile instructional DVDs, I can now also vouch for the fact that Khalida has the patience of a saint because she hasn't chased me up about this at all.

Who the hell is Khalida? 

She was the Bellydancer of the World 2007. Do you know how many belly dancers there were in the world in 2007? Me either, but there were a lot.

You probably also "know" her, even if you haven't met her IRL (as the kids say). Like me, you're most likely following her blog, her twitter feed, her Facebook posts, her Instagram account, her YouTube channel and her Pinterest boards. She also has her own website. I wonder what her beef is with tumblr?

Basically, there is no way that Khalida is just a catfish. I've actually met her and taken workshops with her and she is very genuine.

What it promises on the box  

Well, this IS novel -- it doesn't "promise" anything. There's a description of what to expect (tips and techniques for different kinds of shimmies), a list of chapter headings and some photos of Khalida. There is no way you'll ever be able to accuse her of false advertising.

General observations 

The studio (which is in Canada, don'tchaknow) is very white. Like, literally white all over. The floor. The ceiling. The walls. White. All of it. There's even a clip in the extras of some poor shmo whose job it was to wipe scuff marks off the floor so as not to interrupt all the white. It's amazing. And the mirror does that work? She teaches in front of some sort of technologically advanced mirror so you can see all of her at once, but there has to be some sort of witchcraft involved because the reflection looks too clear.

Sadly, however, there are no black curtains.

There's also something a little off with the dubbing, but before too long I was so busy concentrating on just keeping up that that was only momentarily distracting.

The performance pieces at the end with live drumming from Issam Houshan marked the only time The Man actually sat down next to me to watch any section of a workout DVD. Well done, Khalida and Issam! I also liked the closing credits, featuring (spoiler!) Khalida and the crew shimmying their faces.

This is also old-school, cabaret-style shimmy technique. It's super-enjoyable.

Finally, I also have to give Khalida big props for her stretch section. Of all the dance instructional DVDs I own, this is the only one where the teacher gives tips on widening your straddle sit (my lack of range in straddle being a personal bete noire).


The timings on the main menu don't lie. The intro is 1:21 long. It really is. Khalida stands in the midst of all the nihilistic whiteness like a beacon of friendliness and explains that the DVD is not aimed at any particular level ("Choose the level of layering and adapt to your own level of training"), as it's designed to drill dancers for "stronger, more relaxed and effortless shimmies."




Main menu

The menu on this DVD is exemplary. Seriously. Each main chapter heading, when selected, opens up a sub-menu that tells you exactly how long each element takes. This makes planning a practice session to fit your day both easy and satisfying -- you don't have to feel like you skimped anything. This is what happens when your DVDs are produced by Aziza. Everything's just really well thought out.
  • Introduction
  • Posture and warm-up
  • Conditioning and stretches
  • Techniques and exercises
  • Extended shimmy drill
  • Cool down
For example, if you select "conditioning and stretches", you get these options:
  • Play all
  • Squats conditioning (4:37)
  • Standing stretches (3:51)
  • Seated shimmy drill (5:57)
  • Seated stretches (4:16)
  • Back to main menu
How slick is that? Under "Technique and exercises", you're given a menu of eight different shimmies to drill. You'll never again have the excuse that you're too time-poor to practice. Damn.

£/$ -- Hidden costs 

None. Khalida works out bare foot, and you only need a towel or yoga mat.

Any moves that were impossible?

Not impossible, but certainly difficult. If you're an absolute beginner, it's probably not advisable to attempt all of these in one sitting but it'll certainly get you ahead of the rest of your class.

Try before you buy:



My cat seems to really like this one, especially the looped clip on the main menu of Khalida dancing in a mirror. And The Man refers to this DVD as "The Sweet Belgian One" ("Do you need the living room so you can do that DVD with the sweet Belgian?").


This is not Khalida's fault in any way, but I think the chouchou shimmy drill drove everyone within a six-mile radius to distraction.


Travelling steps are a bit of a challenge when your living room is the size of a horse float, but one does one's best.


Currently out of stock at tax-dodging, worker-exploiting -- possibly the glowing five-star user review from Claude is partially to blame for it flying off the shelves (despite the fact Amazon was cheekily offering it for 440 euros) -- so that means you'll have the enjoyable experience of getting it directly from Khalida through her online shop for less than 20 euros. (Or from