Delilah's Bellydance Workshop Volume 1

A Video Review By Shira

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

This was one of the earliest belly dance instructional videos to appear on the scene, and it's still one of my favorites. The video is divided into four major sections: Ritual Warm-Up, Slow Hips & Torso, Arms & Hands, and Zills. In each section, it covers a large number of moves, some suitable for brand-new beginners just starting out, and others that are more advanced. Even experienced dancers are likely to learn something new. This is Volume 1 of a 3-part series. Each video in the series focuses on certain specific topics.

Why I gave it 5 stars:

  • The video covers a large amount of material, so you get a lot for your money.
  • The moves covered are very appropriate to the topic of the video, and the instruction is well organized.
  • Except for some color bleeding in the warm-up section, the production quality is generally excellent. It's well-lit, has excellent sound quality, and uses varied camera angles effectively to illustrate the moves.

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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Beginner (2-18 months experience)
Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 87:37 minutes
Performance Time 4:28 minutes (5%)
Teaching Time 76:26 minutes (87%)
Amount Of "Other" 6:43 minutes (8%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 1
List Price $49.95 (both NTSC and PAL)
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 62 cents
Cost For "Other" $4.00

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This video is the first of a 3-part series on belly dancing technique. Each of the three videos in the series focuses on particular categories of moves, and teaches a large collection of moves for each category. This video, Volume 1, focuses on Warm-Up, Slow Hips & Torso, Arms & Hands, and Zills. The other two videos address other categories of moves. Together, the three videos provide a solid introduction to the classic American nightclub style of the 1970's and 1980's: fast moves to various rhythms, slow moves, veil work, floor work, etc. The fundamental dance moves that she teaches on this video series provide a good set of building blocks regardless of whether you personally want to take your own dancing in the direction of American tribal, Egyptian, Rom/Gypsy, or some other style.

I have owned these tapes for over 10 years, but it has probably been about 5 years since I last watched them. When I sat down to study Volume 1 for purposes of writing this review, I was reminded of several interesting undulations in the Slow Hips & Torso section that I hadn't thought about for years and I found myself thinking, "I need to add that into my dancing!" So even though I've been dancing for many years, I benefited from watching this video again. Although it teaches many beginner-level moves, this video also contains good material suitable for more experienced dancers.

The music featured throughout the video was composed by Delilah's husband, Steve Flynn. It has a New Age flavor, based on rhythms from the Middle East. Throughout the video, the music plays softly in the background while voiceover explains the moves. This effect is implemented very well - the music sets a tone that makes it feel like dancing rather than just exercise, but it's soft so you can easily hear the description of what to do.

The video opens with a 3-minute performance by Delilah which provides a sampling of a number of different belly dancing techniques, including fast moves, veil work, floor work, abdominal isolations, etc. It sets the stage for the moves that will be taught throughout the series of videos. During the performance, a voiceover provides introductory comments about belly dancing.

From there, the video moves into the instructional segment, beginning with a Ritual Warm-Up which was filmed outdoors in a beautiful setting. Even if you're not comfortable with her use of the word "ritual" here, don't let that deter you from trying it. The moves themselves are, for the most part, the same ones employed by many belly dance instructors in their warm-ups. Delilah's spin is to use the voiceover to help you engage not just the body, but also your mind in the dancing that you're about to do. Her approach provides a framework for releasing yourself from distractions so you can let yourself be absorbed in your dancing. Some dance videos will tell you to warm up, but won't tell you how to do it. Delilah provides a good foundation that begins with breathing exercises, then incorporates gentle stretches, and some basic dance moves. The only thing missing from the warm-ups was some opening aerobic movement to stimulate circulation before doing the stretches, but I don't think that was widely advocated by fitness experts yet at the time this video was made (1987).

For the warm-up, Delilah wears a leotard and tights, which makes it easy to see the moves. The outdoor scenery is lovely and contributes to the meditative mood she's trying to set. However, the picture quality for this segment isn't as good as it is later in the video. The colors tend to bleed a little, and the focus isn't quite as sharp as the rest of the video. At times, the voiceover is just a little ahead of the on-screen action, describing a move before the video portrays it. This wasn't too much of a problem, though, because the picture does catch up, and the camera does eventually zoom in on the appropriate body parts to show you what to do.

The next section after the warm-up is Slow Hips & Torso. This section is filmed indoors, and Delilah wears a sports bra with tights and a hip scarf. It was nice having the change in both the background and her exercise garb because it woke my brain up a little. Again, her clothing makes it easy to see the movements being taught, and it contrasts well with the background. The video quality for this section was excellent.

Delilah uses a chalkboard to illustrate the movements that she teaches for hips and torso. I found this teaching technique to be very effective. She covers many of the familiar beginning moves, such as horizontal and vertical figure 8's, hip and rib cage circles, etc. She then shows how to build on them for a variety of other attractive undulations. She explained these very well, and I found it easy to figure out what she was trying to tell me to do.

In the Arms & Hands section, Delilah is dressed in full costume. The camera angles primarily focus on just her upper half, from head to hips, which is appropriate for the subject matter. Again, the clothing change was beneficial because it sharpened my attention.

This section begins by teaching many variations on snake arms. Next it moves into other assorted arm movements such as lotus blossom, Kali's arms, pharaonic arms, and some other variations. There's a large selection of movements to expand any dancer's repertoire.

The final instructional segment is Zills, which provides an introduction to finger cymbals. For this entire segment, the camera looks over Delilah's shoulder, showing her hands from the same angle that you would see your own hands. This is great because you can see which hand is doing what, and match it easily with your own.

This section gives a taste of finger cymbal rhythms to play with various Middle Eastern rhythms. It provides one rhythm each to play with baladi, masmoudi (8/4), chiftetelli, and 6/8, and three rhythms to play with karshilama (9/8). I really liked the way Delilah explained each rhythm that she taught. She provided an illustration that told you what the drum was doing in terms of "dum" and "tec". This was followed by an illustration in terms of "Left" and Right" telling you what to play on your cymbals to accompany this rhythm. I found it to be very effective.

I found myself wishing that she would have shown several patterns suitable for 4/4 music, because that is the rhythm most commonly used for belly dancing, even if it would have meant omitting some of the other rhythms. Still, she does teach dance moves to these other rhythms on Volume 2, so someone who is working with her complete series of videos will find it useful to have learned these zill rhythms that work with those steps. The zill section of the video did provide a good introduction, enough to help a beginner start learning how to play.

The video ended with another lovely performance by Delilah, this one about a minute and a half.

At the end came about 2 1/2 minutes of closing credits, which were presented with attractive graphical borders.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You've outgrown your first belly dance video and you're looking for something that will reinforce what you know plus teach you additional moves.
  • You're an intermediate dancer who would like to expand your repertoire of moves to include some new ones.
  • You'd like to use a video to give structure to your practice at home.
  • You like using visualizations to bring your mind and body in sync with each other.
  • You're a teacher looking for ideas on new ways to explain the moves you like to teach.
  • You've enjoyed one of Delilah's technique workshops in the past and you'd like to spend more time working with her concepts.
  • You prefer a video that teaches a large number of moves (but without much repetition, so you need to pause it or rewind when you're ready to practice something) over a video that teaches a smaller number of moves but has more repetition and therefore less rewinding.
  • You can figure out on your own how to put moves together into a complete dance, so you want a video that spends its time teaching you additional moves you can add to your style.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You're looking for in-depth finger cymbal instruction. The finger cymbal section on this video provides good information, but at a very introductory level.
  • You're looking for step combinations or choreography.
  • You want a video that shows how to put individual moves together to form a complete dance.
  • You're not comfortable with New Age concepts such as visualization and ritual.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The video teaches a large number of good moves, therefore offering good value for your money.
  • I really liked the opening performance. Not only is Delilah an excellent dancer, but she structured this performance to provide a sampler of many of the movement types used in belly dancing: veil work, floor work, undulations, and fast moves. It sets the tone for her entire series.
  • Delilah makes excellent comments about the purpose of the warm-up.
  • For the most part, the camera work does a good job of focusing on the body part being described in the narrative.
  • In the finger cymbals section, the camera looks over Delilah's shoulder at her hands, so that you see her hands from the same angle you see your own.
  • The video was well-lit throughout. I never had to squint to make out what was happening on the screen.
  • The varied sets and Delilah's occasional change of outfits made this video easy to view for a long time without growing fatigued. Her outfits were well-chosen - they never hid the moves.
  • The video covers many moves that are suitable for brand-new beginners, but it also includes more advanced moves suitable for experienced dancers.
  • From beginning to end, everything on the tape was attractively presented. For example, in the Slow Hips & Torso section, Delilah wore a sports bra with tights and hip scarf, but also added a few nice costume touches around the face. Even the closing credits were artistic.

What I Didn't Like

  • In the warm-up section, the color bled a bit which made it somewhat distracting to watch.
  • At one point, the warm-up said to use hip circles and figure 8's, but they hadn't been taught yet. This could be confusing to a beginner who hasn't yet learned those moves from another source.

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Movements Included

  • Warm-Ups: 16 moves (breathing, stretch forward, stretch to side, freeze while leaning, hip circles, figure 8's, cross feet & weave, reach with toes, head side to side, head up & down, shoulder shimmy, rib cage circle, shoulder circle, elbow circle, wrist circle, fingertip circle)
  • Hip Undulations: 15 moves (figure 8 back to front, figure 8 front to back, vertical figure 8 out, vertical figure 8 in, hip circle, hip circle in own circle, forward wheel, backward wheel, loop, big loop little loop, two small circles within big oval, little circle within big circle, little circles outside big circle, one-sided hip circle, dangling 8)
  • Rib Cage Undulations: 2 moves (circle, forward wheel)
  • Traveling Steps: 4 moves (camel with wheels, camel with head circles, S going backward, forward S with scoots)
  • Body Undulations: 1 move (coffee grinder)
  • Arms: 21 moves (single arm snake arms, unison snake arms, opposition snake arms, snake arms wrapped around body, snake arms to front, snake arms framing face, wrist rotations, snake arms churning at belly, arm ripple, hourglass, lotus blossom, snake arm S shape, Kali's arms, pharaonic same direction in unison, pharaonic in opposite direction, pharaonic same direction but opposite times, cobra roll, Turkish arms, finger flicks, wrist shimmies, opening & closing lotus)
  • Finger Cymbals: 10 Rhythms (gallop, baladi, 3 karshilama, masmoudi, chiftetelli, basic 6/8, brush, continuous ring)

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In Conclusion

I liked this video a lot. It contained a large number of good moves suitable for both beginners and more experienced dancers, and except for a couple of minor problems the production quality was excellent. It's good for anyone who wants to work on belly dance technique and add new moves to her/his repertoire. Regardless of what style you prefer, you'll find many building blocks in this video that will expand your vocabulary of moves.

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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

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I first became interested in Delilah when I saw her do a captivating veil work performance at Rakkasah in California around 1986 or 1987. Interestingly, she was wearing the same beautiful costume for that performance as she wears for the opening performance in this video. Seeing this performance led me to buy her videos. I was impressed by the rich content and good production quality of her videos. Over time, I sought her out for a private lesson when I happened to be in Seattle, attended some workshops that she taught in my area, and attended one of her retreats. I've been a fan of hers ever since seeing that original Rakkasah performance, but didn't really get to know her until I attended her Inanna retreat in 1997.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Delilah as follows:

Visionary Dance Productions
PO Box 30797
Seattle, WA 98103

Phone: (+1) (206) 632-2353
Web Site:

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