Spins and Turns… and Turns and Turns?!

Marguerite Shows You “How To” in Her New IAMED Video Release

By Catherine Cruzan


Nothing strikes fear in the heart of a beginning dancer as effectively as the words, “Alright.  Now let’s try that a little bit faster!”  But before you can object to the image on your screen, Marguerite asks, “Are you ready?”  Then she launches into that last spin a little bit faster “Let’s go!”  Thankfully, if you have been paying attention, the prospect of speeding things up won’t leave you in a twisted heap in the middle of your living room floor.

  The International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED) recently enhanced their Instructional Belly Dance Series with the release of their new title: Spins and Turns with Marguerite.  A comprehensive educator and entertainer, Marguerite shares with you her secrets to perfecting one of the most provocative facets of Dance Orientale.  She employs years of experience as a Middle Eastern dancer, a world traveler and an anthropological researcher, documenting Shamanism and the rituals of local Asian healers and holy men and women.  And, having been invited to teach seminars around the world, she has become an internationally renowned authority on spinning techniques.  Although the source of Marguerite’s material is ageless, her new video may prove itself to be the quintessential guide for modern artists. 






The bulk of Spins and Turns is tailored for the beginning/intermediate dancer, but the video supplies enough advanced material to make it useful to experienced consumers as well.  Marguerite dissects essential elements and teaches them in a straightforward, un-daunting manner, augmented by her perspective as a researcher and a performer.  Her approach is ideal for someone learning for the first time, but if you are an advanced dancer looking to append your current curriculum, Marguerite also breaks down some of her more complicated moves.  She then supplements this material with instruction on floor work, costuming and the implementation of props.  She even provides tips to improve the quality of your spins and turns in performance. 

Your education begins with an involved warm-up, including stretching and breathing exercises to strengthen and protect your body for the movements to follow.  This section would probably be more enjoyable with background music, but necessary information is provided via Marguerite’s dialogue.  She does a good job explaining what you are doing and why, drawing from yoga and other such practices.

Next, Marguerite takes you through the basics, starting with the footwork necessary to successfully execute and sustain various types of spins and turns.  She also shows you how to use focal points and spotting techniques – vital skills needed to ease the dizziness associated with sustained turning, and to achieve various visual affects during a performance. 

Once you’ve got the idea of spinning, Marguerite focuses on the rest of your body, including posture, arm techniques and hand positions.  It is important to note that her visualization techniques will aid beginners throughout this section.  Also, there is some discussion of mudras, but the lack of detail may leave advanced students craving more than what is covered here. 

Even though the history lesson is not included in this video, in the next part of Spins and Turns, you will instead get one in physics.  Dust off those brain cells, because the second half is geared toward intermediate and advanced level students.  Beginning level students may need to spend more time practicing applications from prior sections before proceeding.  Here, Marguerite adds complexity to her basic techniques via level changes and floor work.  She executes both casual and abrupt level changes while showing you how to protect your body in the process.  Again, her visualizations are very helpful.  The effects of different costume pieces are also discussed in this section –a good segue into veil techniques.  It is important to note that although she doesn’t cover sword in the tutorial segments, Marguerite’s performance clips offer invaluable information for experienced balancers who can learn by means of observation. 

As the video progresses through her specialized turns, Marguerite introduces the prospect of traveling while executing a sustained turn.  This would have been an opportune time to discuss meditative techniques, stream-of-consciousness, and the usage of spinning in cultural and religious applications.  And although Marguerite touches briefly on the concepts of internalized spotting and equilibrium, she does not truly explain what they are.  In fairness, this material may be better suited for an advanced level video.  As it is, the production team did a great job visually recreating the perspective of a sustained turn for the stalwart viewer who doesn’t need to turn away from their television. 

When the video moves outdoors, you see Marguerite loosen up.  The change of scenery is appealing.  Marguerite appears more at ease as she shares additional costuming tips.  She even demonstrates a tassel technique, and tells you where to find key costume elements that she typically uses in practice.  She then dances two diametrically different, full-length pieces – one folkloric and one cabaret – demonstrating how versatile the techniques you have just learned can be.  The background detracts from the mood, but her costumes are beautiful and the performances are flawless.

The cabaret piece is first.  Marguerite is dressed in fiery silks.  Her demeanor is coy and flirtatious.  The flame colors fade from red to orange to yellow down the long, beaded fringe hanging from her bra and belt.  Zills and snake-arms answer a percussive drum.  As the melody develops, Marguerite begins to spin.  Her finger symbols never miss a beat.  She utilizes the head-flip and a veil and even mudras.  Belly dance moves are intermingled with spins and turns, a lively beat, a playful smile and enticing heels.

The tone shifts to dramatic for the second piece.  A heartbeat pulses in the darkness as Marguerite enters the spotlight with a folk step.  She is dressed in a ghwazee coat of black and saffron striped silk and an embroidered white chemise.  A burgundy sash hangs down from her waist.  Her demeanor is reverent and reserved.  Until the melody rhythm hits and Marguerite bursts into a spin like a tornado.  Her Sufi-style whirling is intermingled with folk steps, mudras and offerings to the audience.  Her spinning is accentuated with power and the flowing wine silk that lines her coat.

The sound and production quality of the video is terrific, although the studio set sometimes detracts from what Marguerite is doing.  For example, it would be easier to see her movement if she were wearing different fabrics and if there was no pattern on the screen behind her.  Sadly, her gorgeous veil gets washed out.  Nonetheless, the presented material is clear and concise.  The outline builds from a firm foundation and expands with logical progression.  Likewise, the performances at the end of the video and the performance clips inserted between Marguerite’s lectures are of great quality and value.  They give a sense of what you are about to learn and how to use it onstage.  The clips also demonstrate the vast spectrum of stylistic possibilities – the range and diversity can be limitless when applying your own ideas to your newly expanded skill set. 

Irrespective of skill level, experience or stylistic preference, artists of all varieties will profit from using IAMED’s Spins and Turns with Marguerite.  A desire for an advanced video from Marguerite, with more in-depth coverage of postures, mudras, historical and cultural applications and transformative materials, is likely.  Marguerite’s credentials are of great interest to advanced students and beginners alike.  In the meantime, anyone partaking of the methods and ideas put forth in her beginning video will benefit, because Marguerite shares her knowledge with palpable generosity and meticulous care. 

Visit Marguerite’s website at www.gypsymagic.com for additional information on upcoming shows, classes and seminars; and to purchase her new IAMED instructional video: Spins and Turns with Marguerite.