Learning from Belly Dance Videos

Learning from Belly Dance Videos | Instructional & Performance videos and DVDs for Belly Dancers:
Learning from belly dance videos cannot be underestimated. There is a plethora of belly dance videos, both for performance and instruction that will help support what you’re learning in class. Performance videos, and DVDs, will help you develop an appreciation and better understanding of the dance, while assisting you develop your own unique style. A good instructional videos will further develop your skills and can be used as a practice aide. However, there are also a lot of videos that contain poor quality dancing, unsafe movement, and/or erroneous information. Hopefully, as you grow as a dancer, you’ll learn to recognize great dancing and great teaching of dance. Below are some recommendations on how to learn belly dance and practice with videos or DVDs.

Learning from Performance Belly Dance Videos:
-Pay attention to entrances/exits, technique, isolations, use of space/stage, musical interpretation (knowledge of rhythms/accents and transitions), stage presence, transitions, and stylization (Egyptian, American, Turkish, etc… as well as personal stylization)
-Listen to the music/instruments- how does the dancer move/interpret the different instruments?
-Pretend you are a judge and this is a competition. Use the above criteria to score the dancer. What did he/she do well? What could he/she do better?
-Personal stylization- Are there arm/hand, turns, or other movements that seem unique to this particular dancer?
-Choose something great from the dancer that you can incorporate into your practice sessions or into choreography of your own. Incorporating a move or a combo into your own dance is much different than stealing someone else’s’ choreography. Be aware of the etiquette around this and the importance of giving credit when it’s due.

Learning from Instructional Belly Dance Videos:
-DVDs are the best as you don’t waste time forwarding and rewinding
-Incorporate parts of your favorite DVDs into your practice sessions; start with a couple of easier things and graduate to the more advanced concepts
-Organize your practice time, delegating part of the practice session for practicing with a video. Just be sure this isn’t your entire practice session
-Try not to emulate the dancer’s personal style, charisma, and/or facial expressions. Be yourself and add your personality, even during practice sessions. It will take time, but eventually you will develop into your own dancer.

How To Choose a Quality Belly Dance Videos:
-Do some online research and learn about the dancer’s credentials first.
-Does the dancer teach only subjects in which he/she has a lot of experience and/or background in doing?
-Use what you know. Does this dancer appear to have good technique?
-Video production is sometimes an indicator of poor/high quality instruction but not always. Remember that anyone can pay to have a video produced.
-For the most part, stay away from YouTube instructional videos. Unless it’s a trailer, if it’s free, it’s most likely not worth your time. This is the number one place for erroneous information in regards to dance instruction.
-Learning to belly dance cannot be achieved from any “one” DVD/video. Anyone that claims you’re going to be a pro at Saidi, sword, cabaret, etc… by watching their video, is most like presenting erroneous material. Belly dancing takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Study DVDs, take lots of private lessons and classes, practice, watch dancers perform live, and do your research.
-Ask for recommendations from the teachers you respect.

For fabulous belly dance DVDs that I recommend, visit my belly dance shop here: MELLILAH’S SHOP
Additional Reading:
You will also want to read this excellent article about the subject written by Yasmin. To Buy or Not to Buy – A Guide to Mass Market Belly Dance Instructional DVDs

For more info about the author, Mellilah, please visit www.mellilah.com

About Mellilah Jamal

Mellilah teaches belly dance classes in Redmond and Bothell and performs for private parties and restaurants throughout Seattle.


  1. I agree with this blog. I have tried videos but they only work to a point. You can hurt yourself without interactive guidance. A video only shows you one view but an experienced teacher can observe everything and commment on your technique and make corrections before they become bad habits. I’m not saying that videos are bad, I’m just saying that you should get a second opinion. Would you use a video doctor to make decisions about your health? Well that’s what’s at stake. Bad dance habits can hurt you in the long run, leading to muscular problems and aches and pains. A beginner class is well worth the investment, and believe me, you will see things in the video that you never saw before. Usually the videos present good information, you just need to be educated to observe. I did Shimmy videos on fit tv but after taking a class I saw the subtle things I missed before. I also told the teacher I used videos and once she was aware of that fact she was able to zero in on what I needed to safely progress in dancing, which leads me to another point. You will never perform publically by just doing videos. There’s no feedback and there’s no student-teacher relationship (very important) that will help guide you to becoming a better dancer. They say that when a student is ready the master will appear. Such was my case. Trust me. Take an intro class. My teacher taught me more than fitness, she taught me to enjoy dancing, to let go and experience the art for what it is. I challange any video to do that!

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