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Serpentine – Belly Dance with Rachel Brice :: Bellydance Technique & Yoga for Strong, Relaxed & Sinuous Movement

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 25-09-2010


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Serpentine – Belly Dance with Rachel Brice: Belly Dance Technique & Yoga for Strong, Relaxed & Sinuous Movement is a unique blend of yoga conditioning, belly dance technique drills, choreography and mini-classes designed by Rachel Brice, star performer and instructor of contemporary belly dance, whose technique, artistic style, and warm personality contributed to the rise of Tribal Fusion belly dance. Rachel’s instructional method offers you tools to achieve prec… More >>

Serpentine – Belly Dance with Rachel Brice :: Bellydance Technique & Yoga for Strong, Relaxed & Sinuous Movement

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Watch and Download Serpentine – Belly Dance with Rachel Brice :: Bellydance Technique & Yoga for Strong, Relaxed & Sinuous Movement

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Ok. I wanted to write a more detailed review. But, geez, I just don’t want to stop the DVD! (that should tell you something!)

WDNY just released Rachel Brice’s latest piece, Serpentine. It’s a 2-DVD set, divided into a drill/yoga section and a dance/choreography section. I received an advance copy as I review DVDs for several different places and cannot emphasize enough just how good this one is. I’d say it’s hands down her best DVD yet as it finally has what I know I’ve wanted to see for so long – a comprehensive overview of her own unique signature style. The other DVDs were great (one is a historic gem that has the baseline material and moves that are the building blocks for tribal fusion; the other is a bible for tribal style arms), but both seemed to lack that unique quality of Rachely goodness – her fluid technique, nifty combos, and dance mechanics.

Well, if you want to learn her signature style, it’s all here – from the yoga she uses to prepare her body to the drills for strengthening to the actual movements arranged in not one but two sample choreographies. You can read the info on exactly *what* it has (the descriptions on amazon, the back of the DVD case, etc will give you the lowdown), but I can tell you from viewing it that the quality is excellent and really well done. WDNY brings in their specialty of creating an easy to follow format, presented in several variations that will allow you to choose how you want to practice, which is a very nice touch. My favorite part? Drills of course. Overall, I’d say that the drills alone on here are excellent and fairly unique in terms of building up strength for traveling (I really enjoyed that section) and footwork as well as tribal fusion style shimmy drill. Every Rachel workshop I’ve attended (and I’ve had the pleasure of going to about 5 or so) have featured yoga and drills with a delicious focus on technique and you’ll find that in this DVD. I like to think of it as a Rachel Brice workshop in a box – an excellent DVD that follows her in-class teaching format exactly.

So the first DVD is drills and yoga. But, beyond that, there’s an entire second DVD that includes two choreographies, each of which is broken down and explained, along with Rachel performing each individual choreography in full costume (don’t worry there are two *additional* performances too so you can get your Rachel fix). The breakdowns assume you have knowledge of tribal fusion and basic bellydance movements – this portion of the DVD is definitely not for beginners. The combos are presented clearly, but quickly, so you will need to make sure that you know the movements as not all of the individual moves are broken down. Again, this will not be an issue if you have a good working knowledge of the dance. At times, it is pretty challenging (something along the lines of “now you’re on relevee…and traveling back with this foot pattern/arabic. and let’s layer the arabic on. and then when you’re comfortable with that, here are the arms and the 3/4 shimmy on the up to go with it…whew!). But often the layers are presented in pieces, so you can work with what you *can* do before adding on the extra pieces. The nice thing is that the setup facilitates you learning Rachel’s more complex combinations – the combos are broken down, and there’s a “practice loop” section for you to jam out to. One choreography offering is fast and cheeky, and one is slow and slinky, so you’re really getting the best of both worlds. And, in the tradition of WDNY DVDs packing in as much material as possible, there are two smaller classes on the second DVD, a yoga for backbends (FINALLY!) and a lecture class.

Overall, a great DVD (but you probably expected that). If you’re into tribal fusion style in general, this is definitely one to pick up. I know, I know – lately there have been lots of other DVDs on the market now that will give you wonderful material as far as combos and movements, but I promise you that this is THE one to own if you’re looking for Rachel/the Indigo technique and dance form. And a good yoga practice for bellydancers. And some excellent drills. You get the idea 😉

You will like this DVD if:

* You would like to improve your bellydance practice by adding in yoga and drills (these will benefit dancers of any style)

* You are interested in refining and perfecting tribal fusion technique

* You are interested in improving dance footwork, leg strength, isolation, and shimmies

* You would like to learn some new tribal fusion choreographies and/or combinations

* You’re a huge Rachel Brice/the Indigo fan :)

Again, DVD 1 recommended for dancers of all levels, DVD 2 for those who are intermediate or higher level
Rating: 5 / 5

Rachel Brice’s “Serpentine” DVD is full of superb instruction, both in belly dance and yoga, for the beginner and any serious student who wants to have perfect technique as a basis for their movements. The yoga warm-ups and strengthening exercises add to the belly dancing by giving agility and power to areas of the body most needed in belly dancing, like a flexible, strong back, and in facilitating the isolations in the torso.

Disc 1 is all about technique. It trains your body in the basic steps, from arm movements to a tremendous shimmy drill that starts slow and builds to become a marvelous workout. These exercises build muscle tone, good posture, correct breathing, and everything you need to advance in learning the art of belly dancing. Rachel also gives you a “menu” of how you can best use this 2 DVD set, with a daily selection to make the most out of your practice, depending on how much time you have to give to it.

Disc 2 has 2 choreographed pieces to learn. Starting with a wonderful performance, and then breaking it down so it can be learned in sections. There is a section of “practice loops” which is very useful, so you can repeat each section until you know it by heart. The first piece is lively with a touch of humor, and the second piece is slow and sensual. Both are terrific and as taught by Rachel, easy to assimilate. There is a final yoga practice on Disc 2 for relaxation and to cool down which is great to do, and there are some “Lecture Classes” which are not to be missed!

The music is excellent and some of it unusual. It includes the Balkan brass band Brass Menazeri Brazen and Vranjski San, percussion dance rhythms from Helm Itneen: Tribal Dance/Tribal Drums and Tribal Dance * Tribal Drums, and the beautiful “Whisper Hungarian in My Ear” by The Toids. The DVD set concludes with 2 exquisite performances by Rachel. Her elegant, sumptuous costumes, and her sublime beauty and grace are a marvel to watch.
Rating: 5 / 5

WDNY’s already impressive Tribal Fusion lineup has an addition from the star who defines this genre: Rachel Brice herself. Starting with a nice and basic introduction from Tempest in 2006, they’ve steadily been taking it up a notch and then another notch until the just-released Serpentine.

I know that dancers who read my reviews will want an answer to the general all-encompassing question, “So what’s it like?” As is often the case with WDNY’s videos, I find it a difficult question to answer because above all, there is invariably a stupendous amount of content – more than from any other producer. And for a really low price. Serpentine is no exception. In fact, it’s a 2-disk set in which Rachel Brice gives you the whole foundation of the unique signature style she dances. In four hours.

Yoga, the foundation

I think we’ve seen from Rachel’s previous two DVDs that it is yoga that got her where she is. It is the very core of how she moves and on this set of disks, she takes you through a complete program of preparation through yoga and isolations, the way she believes will lead to “strong, relaxed and sinuous movement.” In previous reviews of her videos, I remember saying we didn’t want yoga from Rachel Brice, but the secret of how she dances. Well, it looks like yoga is that secret. If the aim is to dance like her and not do any yoga – forget it. In fact, this set is making me see the previous ones differently.

Both the disks in this set have yoga programs spread over them. The content does not particularly repeat what’s on her previous videos, so this set doesn’t make those redundant at all. As an Indian, I’m happy to see she refers to the Sanskrit names of all the asanas. I think that’s a nice acknowledgement of where yoga came from in the first place. The yoga instruction is calm, disciplined and smooth – much as expected from Rachel Brice. It takes patience and motivation, until you get nice and addicted to it as people do, from where you’re on to a good thing. Rachel uses the downward facing dog position as a base and builds sequences for the starting or Yoga 1 session that starts the first disk.. On the second disk is the back bending yoga session. This section is unsurprisingly challenging but all doable except for one scary asana – the one where you put your hands backwards next to your ears and then lift everything up. You’re instructed to try this only if you’re really comfortable with it. I’m surprised not to find some of the positions other dancers recommend when conditioning the body for backbends. There’s the position where you sit between your knees (that takes weeks to get to) and then gradually bend back and place each hand on the feet. But well, since Rachel does very relaxed backbends, I have no quarrels with whatever her selection happens to be. If she says it works, I have no doubt it does.

Each of the two disks has a “finishing yoga practice” recommended to relax and stretch with. In fact, Rachel has a small guide on how to use this whole program and change which chunks or classes you pick up to work with on each day of the week. Nice touch, that.

Isolations, the technique

There’s a ten-point posture check and then we begin with a shoulders drill. This is easy enough. But then, we go on to torso drill and things begin to change from other DVDs. Right from the start, she has foot patterns and timing variations for you to deal with. That’s fantastic. While this is accessible to all levels and genres of belly dance, absolute beginners would do well to use a video focusing only on plain vanilla isolations first. Or learn these in live classes. It’s interesting but here’s where you’lll see Rachel Brice in regular belly dance mode. It’s interesting that WDNY or Rachel chose to use music loops of rhythms instead of the modern music they usually go for. Well, it’s better for concentration and timing but worse for motivation and variety. It’s also more drilly, I guess. We cover side to side chest seesaws, isolated waves of the upper body, and bigger waves that involves the back. Then we get into hip work in short but powerful drills. These include obliques and glutes on the up and down, pelvic locks, alternating small pelvic circles, interesting maya variations and other layered moves involving footwork and chest moves.

The whole isolations session isn’t what you’ll find on other videos and has a lot to work with. Breakdown here is brief and there’s quite a bit of layering and really, dancers who’ve got over the first brush with isolations will have a better time of it.

Shimmy drills

Overall quite a challenging shimmy drill. A few seconds into it you’re layering with shoulders, arms and torso moves and undulations. At one point there was a shimmy on, torso roll down and chest slides going on all at the same time. Come prepared to do sharp clean moves! You work with locks as well. Shimmy layering on other moves such as slides and circles also feature, but there isn’t a breakdown. As Rachel says, you just have to keep trying it. We also do the 3/4s. It’s a killer drill – the killerest I’ve seen for shimmies because it’s a lot of stuff squeezed into an intense and concentrated session.

Leg strengthening drills

There’s a nice segment focusing on building strength in the legs, much needed for keeping moves going while you change level etc. Toe-heel changes, releves, knee lifts, grapevines with passé, chair poses and level changes feature in this section. It’s a very nice addition to the whole program.

Two Choreographies

On Disk 2 are the goodies that we’ve wanted from Rachel Brice all along – combinations in her style. This is where we move into full-fledged tribal fusion style, but of the two choreographies, the first would help belly dancers in general to learn and sharpen some rapid-fire hip moves. The first choreography, set to an unusual piece of music, Kozarica Kolo, is sassy and uses a lot of contrast moves – sometimes slow and sometimes really fast. It’s a short piece and divides into two combinations repeated. But tough for those of us who haven’t worked on so much control.

The second choreography is set to Whisper Hungarian in my Ear and in this one, the moves luxuriate to the music. It’s also about as short. In fact, I do wish both had been about twice as long. In the performance Rachel does at the end, the Hungarian piece is extended to more combinations. The choreography ends in a backbend and a truly serpentine and Rachesque pose. There’s a great Practice Loops feature so you can keep running through the combo until you’re happy with how you’re learning it.


In the yoga sessions, Rachel is calm as she slowly leads you the asanas. I find this a relief after working with some of the videos that never seem to pause for breath while shooting instructions at you. I think yoga practice needs tranquility – it’s part of the package.

With the drills, she is businesslike as she makes you get on with it. And in the sessions for the choreographies, she’s warm and funny. As ever, she looks exotic and amazing no matter what she does or says.

The Rachel Lectures

At the end of the second disk we have a fantastic set of lecture classes. In these, Rachel demystifies and advises you on various tricky aspects. These little lectures are accessible separately on the menu, in case you want to work with one part and not another. So here, Rachel takes up backbends and gives some critical advice on what to do and what not to do. Very important for the safety of your back. Then, she takes up basic footwork for those who are fairly new to belly dance. She explains and teaches four arm patterns — simple ones. There’s a portion about how to understand the basic beat of the music. And finally she teaches you how to do the Ujjayyi breathing for the yoga. These lectures add impressive depth to this already solid program.

I’m often amazed at how dancers can “give away” their skill, knowledge and style and that too for just a few dollars. This is one of those times. Although I still feel I’d have liked less yoga (which you can, after all, learn elsewhere) and more and easier combinations and arm paths, I think one can’t complain. Two choreographies, drills, technique, yoga, advice -what more can one want!

Rating: 5 / 5

Rachel Brice leads you through several fabulous Yoga routines designed to help condition you for belly dance, including an ending routine to relax you afterward. She explains the ten points of belly dance posture to ensure correct body alignment. The drills that she teaches are great, and you are sure to enjoy them! Drills include leg strengthening drills, isolation drills, and shimmy drills. She gives valuable advice on back bending, a lesson on foot patterns, arm patterns, music beats, and Yoga breathing. She teaches 2 choreographies; one of which is peppy and fun, to Balkan style music; the other to a sultry, slow piece entitled Whisper Hungarian in My Ear. Each choreography has a performance, demo, step-by-step instruction and practice loops. I particularly like the slow choreography simply because I have always loved the slow fluid movements and beautiful music. This is an intermediate to advanced DVD, but I would recommend it to beginners for the valuable explanations and conditioning exercises, not to mention having something to aspire to. I really enjoy this DVD.
Rating: 5 / 5

Wow! Was I elated when I received my copy of “Serpentine”, so anxiously and with infectious enthusiasm, I embarked on a personal exploration into the many dimensions of what collectively characterizes the belly dance journey of this simply awesome program. Kudos to WDNY for bringing Rachel Brice on board!

This 2 dvd program demystifies a beautiful path towards a transformatinal adventure of full body expression into tribal style belly dance. Rachel Brice, who well wears the adjective “serpentine”, begins the two part program with a welcome and explains that the program is open level adding that “consistancy” is key in attaining your goals for this dance style. This program can be used in segments that can be applied daily in great length or in short segments for those with limited time. In addition, Rachel adds a mini class at the end of the program.

Disk one


Preparation and strengthening section include a fantastic conditioning workout based on standing and seated asanas, including proper breathing. For those of us who use yoga as a prelim to dance, you will find these poses beneficial for strengthening upper and lower back. In addition,leg strengthening drills which I find useful for adding grace, fluidity and useful in ease of transition, isolation drills with 4 basic foot work patterns such as cross steps, triplets, grapevine and step touch and simple arm frames. Shimmy drills follow with challenging ¾ shimmies topped with traveling undulations and mayas.

Disk two

All about choreography

Two beautiful dances with demos broken down simply. The practice loops very well allow an ease of transition from combo to combo to facilitate learning.

Dance one: “Kozarica Kolo,” by “Brass Menazeri, fun, upbeat.

Dance two: “Whisper Hungarian In My Ear,” by the Toids. Slow and enchanting, this is my favorite!

Finish the class with a yoga session (cooldown)

A Lecture class follows which is a great bonus- Rachel instructs on proper technique for backbends. footwork and arms patterns, yoga and proper breath which are essential to strengthen the body and create flexibility.

Two fabulous performances in the usual sinuous signature style that Rachel Brice is famous for which are utterly and absolutely breathtaking!

There is simply too much to write about. This program is abundant in technqiue, yoga, and key ingredients for a successful journey into “Rachel style” tribal fusion.It is wonderful that WDNY continues to bring forth fantastic instructors who share their creative success, and knowledge to enrich our belly dance lives.

Rating: 5 / 5

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