I have a confession to make! I have had this fabulous DVD for three weeks now, ever since JoY, and have been enjoying it so much! It's just that life has got in the way, so I've only just got around to telling you all about it. That means it's even more urgent that you whip on over to www.paulettereesdenis.com and bag yourself a copy before you get left behind. Do it!
Which DVD am I talking about? It's the brand new 'Tribal Technique No. 11' or 'The Power in Tribal; Connection with the Earth and Each Other' from Paulette Rees-Denis & Gypsy Caravan Dance Company Int (represented by Paulette, Cinzia and Amanda). Filmed in Milan, this follows on from Paulette's earlier technique DVDs and so quite rightly assumes familiarity with the Gypsy Caravan format of dance, together with an understanding of the nature of tribal. Don't pick up this DVD expecting to learn a choreography that you can perform at one hafla after another; as with all of Paulette's DVDs this is about broadening your tribal repertoire and understanding, with new steps, combos and formations to bring into group improvisation. This truly is The Power of Tribal - but more about that later!
The DVD starts with what I can best describe as a 'relaxed' warm up. That really isn't the right word for it as Paulette does work you (as always) but it really puts me in mind of the yoga classes I attend - which I find so uplifting. Yes, maybe uplifting is a better description! It's all done on the floor - seated, lying, on hands and knees - and it just really speaks to me! Lots of yoga type stuff in there (another of Paulette's many talents) which stretches you but at the same time is not widely unattainable for the average dancer!
I loved it - but did worry that, given the deliciously warm and euphoric feeling it all gave me, I might not be able to gear myself up for some funky GC moves. Well, I needn't have worried! Paulette was there before me and had already accounted for that with an additional more aerobic warm up - lots of pulsing and grooving and general upping of energy. Great stuff!
Thoroughly warmed up now, it's on to the technique section. Paulette teaches each move facing you, whilst Cinzia and Amanda stand on either side of her and carry out the moves with their backs to you, which is really helpful (particularly if you're directionally challenged!). Paulette gives really clear explanations of the steps but, as this is not a beginner DVD, doesn't break down the basic moves underpinning each (if this is what you need then check out her back-catalogue of technique DVDs).
There is a really funky feel to this DVD. The first two moves - Honoring the Earth and Honoring the Sky - have a real African flavour, taking us back to the roots of our dance. Arabic 5 follows, and then the sassy Shoulder Drop Combo (my favourite - sooo Gypsy Caravan!). The Double Hip Bump Combo is a new take on an old favourite (and I always love combos which build in their own switch from right to left!) and the Swivel is a great new travelling step. The power and grace of both the Huntress and the Arabic Rotation Combo really speak to me and the funky Tunisian Twist is another move full of sass and attitude (that will always remind me of Deirdre MacDonald!).
The final moves on the DVD - the High 5, Low 5 and Moroccan Box - actually made me really reflect on Tribal Connection (Aha - you didn't think it was going to be one of THOSE posts, did you?!). The 5s both start with a physical connection - hands touching - which is momentarily lost as the dancers turn, but is then regained smoothly and seamlessly, just embodying for me the way in which that connection between us as we dance runs far deeper than just the moves. It is indeed a connection of spirits and souls. The Moroccan Box, with its beautiful cascading arms establishing a connection of hands, which later gives way to the perfect synchronicity of a Shimmy Box done in a diagonal line formation (that particular combination always looks so magnificent - hips, arms, directions all attuned in absolute timing!) has a similar feeling. Together, body, mind and spirit. A collective soul!
Enough meanderings!! The DVD now moves on to drills - carried out by Cinzia and Amanda, with appropriate reminders on technique from Paulette. The first drill section is done with the dancers facing front, the second with their backs towards you which is fantastic for dancing along. As with the whole DVD the drills are shot against the crisp, clean background of a Milan dance studio. The dancers all wear black - clean lines which, whilst monochrome in effect, ensure that the moves can all be really clearly seen and followed (this is a technique DVD after all - teaching moves is its key intention, and the setting really helps to facilitate this).
The final part of the DVD is an informal chat between the three dancers about the Power of Tribal. I always enjoy this - a key feature of Paulette's recent DVDs. As a 'baby' tribal dancer one of the things that I really appreciated about the first regular workshops I attended (with Chris Ogden of 400 Roses and North Wind Tribal) was the opportunity to 'Talk Tribal' during break time. As a tribal newbie I just wanted to soak up everything there was to learn about this beautiful style of dance, and those talks really set me on the right path. Similarly the talks on Paulette's DVDS give me food for thought, reaffirm my own feelings about the dance, heighten that feeling of connection within the tribal community. Thank you so much ladies for sharing this with us!
So would I recommend this DVD? If you want to feel the power of tribal - oh yes! If you want to feel that tribal connection - oh yes! If you want to get your tribal groove on with some really funky moves - oh yes! Most definitely!
The DVD ends with some photos, one of which I just have to share with you here. It's of Paulette, Amanda and Cinzia sashaying through the streets of Milan. It is just so joyful, so full of spirit, so tribal! I adore it!
Until next time - happy dancing. And remember ....