Belly Dance! Magical Motion

A Video Review By Shira

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Overall Rating: StarStarStarStarStar(on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

This video provides a very nice introduction to belly dancing, and is particularly well suited for those who are brand new to enjoying this exercise/art form. A good introduction to some fundamental belly dancing movements. Highly recommended if you're just starting out! However, if you have more than 6 months of belly dance experience in a classroom setting with a teacher giving you feedback, you may find that the moves taught on this video are too elementary for your taste.

Why I gave it 5 stars:

  • The overall quality of the video (lighting, filming, etc.) is excellent. For details, see What I Liked, What I Didn't below.
  • The moves that Atéa selected are appropriate for beginning dancers, and she teaches sufficient variety to provide a good starting point. Her format provides a good structure for beginners to start doing their own improvisation.

To purchase this video from Amazon:

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(If my DVD region information above differs from Amazon, trust me, not Amazon. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I ask sellers which region codes they support, and if I have my own copy of the DVD I use software to to verify the region codes.)

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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice
Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 54 minutes
Performance Time 9 minutes (17%)
Teaching Time 41 minutes (76%)
Amount Of "Other" 4 minutes (7%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information Yes
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 6
List Price $29.95 (Some vendors offer this video for a significantly lower price.)
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 60 cents
Cost For "Other" $2.10

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Atéa told me that when making this video, she sought to create something that would be sold to the same market as Jane Fonda's aerobic video and other exercise videos. The assumption was that the buyer would be someone who never had previous experience with belly dancing but wanted to try it, and the production quality needed to compete on a par with the slick, broadcast-quality videos that were already on the market for other exercise forms.

Those objectives did a lot to shape the final product. The movements selected are very elementary, very basic, and will provide a pleasant introduction to belly dancing for a beginning student who either wants to start learning this art form through video or wants a non-impact workout. An intermediate or advanced belly dancer will find this video to be too elementary, as will even more experienced beginners. But for the total novice, it introduces a good basic vocabulary of movements and provides a good foundation for learning the dance.

The video begins with a 4-minute overview of belly dancing. It talks about what it is, and provides a bit of history.

Next it moves into doing warm-ups, and provides excellent advice about how to warm up properly. In addition to describing how to start warming up, it also provides some specific exercises that are appropriate to warming up for belly dance. This section lasts about 4 minutes.

The next two sections are called "Staccato Hips." Staccato is a musical term, which refers to playing musical notes in a short, abrupt fashion with space between the notes. The sections on staccato hips in this video teach sharp, brisk movements that would be suitable for such music. The first of these sections does a nice job of teaching the correct stance to use for belly dancing. Together, these sections are about 12 minutes long.

In the next section, Atéa covers "Taxim - Rolling Hips." Taxim is a term used in Arabic music to indicate an improvised solo. As a musical term, it can refer to any instrument, even a vigorous drum improvisation with snappy accents. But belly dancers usually use the term to refer to slow, sinuous music that would be suitable for undulations, and that is the interpretation intended for the title of this section. This section covers flowing hip movements. Continuing with slow, undulating moves, Atéa moves on to "Taxim - Rib Cage." It covers assorted rib cage movements suitable for soft and flowing musical taxims. From there, the video progresses to "Taxim - Arms & Head," adding some arm and head movements. Together, the three taxim sections fill about 17 minutes and capture the essence of what most people think of when they hear the term "belly dance".

At this point, the video takes a break from instruction and presents a section where the various dancers take turns performing in costume, showing how the moves that were just taught look in a completed dance.

The next section discusses "Veil". It doesn't exactly teach how to dance with a veil, but the narrative does provide a little information about recommended fabric and what size to use, and the demonstration provides a flavor of veil work looks like.

Following this is the "Zils - Finger Cymbals" section. It starts with a one-minute performance, then moves on to the instructional section. Although it teaches only two rhythms (alternating and 3's), it's enough to provide a taste. There's no information, though, on how to decide which cymbals to buy and how to put the elastic on. If you're serious about learning finger cymbals, you'll need either a live instructor or a different video.

The "Costuming" section doesn't tell how to make a costume. It's a demo showing a variety of costumes with a discussion about the components of them. Although a couple of folkloric costumes are shown, most of them are the beads-and-sequins nightclub style. This video was made in 1985 before the surge in popularity of American Tribal Style, so it doesn't address that costuming style.

The video ends with another performance in which the various dancers take turns performing in costume. They demonstrate a nice variety of dance moves and costumes.

Atéa achieved her goal of creating a broadcast-quality product. The set is beautifully decorated, and the dancers demonstrating the moves model a wide array of costumes. The lighting is excellent, making it easy to see the movements. The sound quality is very clear and easy to hear.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You have never belly danced before, and you want a high quality instructional video that you can use to learn how.
  • You are taking a beginner belly dance class, and you'd like to use a video to provide some structure to practicing at home.
  • There's not a local belly dancing instructor in your community, but you really want to learn how.
  • You want a video that focuses on dance moves rather than focusing on fitness. Although working with this video will certainly provide you with exercise, its focus is on teaching dance, not on providing a workout.
  • You've been disappointed with other belly dancing videos that have poor production quality (lighting, sound, focus, camera work) and you'd like to find one that has higher standards.

You Probably Won't Care For This Video If

  • You're already intermediate level and you don't feel the need for a video that focuses on beginner-level moves.
  • You're looking for a video that provides solid instruction in finger cymbals and veil. Although this video touches on them, it doesn't provide much depth on those topics.
  • You want a video that emphasizes fitness more than how to dance.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

There's a lot to like about Magical Motion, including:

  • This video is a very polished, high-quality production.
  • It offers instruction on a good choice of moves for the introductory beginner level.
  • The movements are clearly explained, on a well-lit, attractive set.
  • Several dancers help Atéa demonstrate the moves so you can see how they look on different people.
  • Several costume changes throughout provide a variety of ideas for the novice dancer who is looking for inspiration in crafting her own costume.
  • In addition to presenting movements, it offers a little cultural information and comments on how to do the movements properly to avoid injury.
  • Brief demonstrations alternate with teaching, so you can get immediate feedback on how to actually incorporate the moves taught into a dance.
  • Many of the demonstrations were done by Atéa's fellow dancers, rather than by Atéa herself. Even though this was her video, Atéa was willing to share the spotlight with others. I liked the fact that Atéa did not come across as insisting on the center of attention all the time! The viewer benefits seeing alternate interpretations of the dance.

What I Didn't Like

  • In the instructional section, the camera zoomed in for tight close-ups of the stomach and hips too often for my taste. I don't care for the sight of a wiggling disembodied pelvis. It's okay to show some such close-ups in this kind of context, but I felt they were used too frequently.
  • The soundtrack uses the music composed by Ramal LaMarr, a musician whose material was popular among belly dancers at the time Atéa produced Magical Motion. Although I like this music very much myself and sometimes use it when I dance, I would have preferred to see her select actual traditional songs from the Middle East for this video so that the student could start becoming familiar with Middle Eastern favorites at the same time she practices with the video.
  • Atéa doesn't have a commanding stage presence, so her performances are not as compelling as those I've seen from other dancers.

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Movements Included

  • Warm-Ups: 5 moves (raise arms overhead & stretch, torso twist with arm swing, forward body roll down, head roll, shoulder roll)
  • Hip Articulations: 4 moves (hip twist including variations, hip bump, up & down shimmy, forward & back shimmy)
  • Hip Undulations: 4 moves (basic hip circle, forward & back figure 8, up & down figure 8, bicycle hips)
  • Traveling Steps: 3 moves (basic walk, common walk, freestyle walking)
  • Body Undulations: 6 moves (arch forward & contract, side to side rib cage slides, horizontal rib cage circle, diagonal rib cage circle, vertical forward & back rib cage circle, undulation)
  • Arms: 3 moves (forward arm wave, Hindu arms, arm ripple)
  • Head Slides
  • Finger Cymbals: 2 Rhythm (alternate, 3's)

There is no floor work. Veil dancing is demonstrated, but not taught. The section on finger cymbals is very brief, and doesn't provide much information on how to play them.

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Atéa, choose from the list below:

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I have spoken on the telephone and exchanged e-mail with Atéa, but we have never met in person. We became acquainted when I posted on my web site some negative feedback I had heard from another person about her videos, and she contacted me to request an opportunity to let her tell me her side. Impressed with the professional manner in which she made her request, I agreed. She sent me a copy of her three videos for me to watch and evaluate for myself, and upon doing so I discovered that I liked this one very much. The other person's opinion lost all credibility with me, and any future opinions I may hear from that person will be suspect.

My current relationship with Atéa is that I see her as a professional colleague whom I respect very much because of what she has accomplished in making high-quality belly dance instructional videos readily available to the mass market.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
All regions
Not offered Not offered
VHS Tape Edition U.S.
Not offered

(If my DVD region information above differs from Amazon, trust me, not Amazon. Amazon doesn't offer a way for sellers to indicate that their DVD's support multiple regions, so they're forced to pick just one. I ask sellers which region codes they support, and if I have my own copy of the DVD I use software to to verify the region codes.)

Or, contact Atéa as follows:

Magical Motion™ Enterprises
12228 Venice Blvd., Suite 402-W
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Phone (+1) (310) 301-0045
Fax (+1) (310) 301-4064
Web Site:

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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