Tribal Basics Volume 1:
Dance Fundamentals (Revised)

A Video Review By Shira

Do you have questions about Shira's reviewing methodology, such as how to interpret the chart, what the categories mean, or what her biases are? Click here for an explanation.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers


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

Although the title is Tribal Basics, this video actually teaches fundamental movements of belly dancing that can be used regardless of what style of music, costuming, or performance mood the dancer embraces. It offers a nice introduction to belly dancing for the novice who has never taken classes before. Some of the moves on the video, such as the stomach roll and body undulation, are often not taught in classes because many instructors can't do them well enough to teach them. Carolena Nericcio explains these moves well, so even someone who has previously been exposed to belly dancing may learn something new from this video. It ends with a performance by FatChanceBellyDance. Cover

I would highly recommend this video if you're just starting out. If you don't have a local teacher and you're trying to learn to belly dance from videos, this one may will help you learn to assemble the moves you've learned from it and other videos into a completed dance. However, if you've had more than 6 months of instruction in a classroom setting from someone who teaches undulations (and other moves) well, you may find the moves taught on this particular video to be too elementary for your taste.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

What Users Think

Have you actually watched this video yourself? If so, offer your own opinion in the poll below! Otherwise, click the "View Results" button to see what worldwide users of think of it.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The above poll includes responses submitted since October 28, 2002.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice
Formats Available NTSC on DVD (VHS tape in NTSC and PAL available by special order with longer lead times)
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 75 minutes
Performance Time 18 minutes (24%)
Teaching Time 52:15 minutes (70%)
Amount Of "Other" 4:45 minutes (6%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health/Posture Issues Yes
Number Of Models 3
List Price $35
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 47 cents
Cost For "Other" $2.10

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers


The video that I reviewed was the revised edition of Tribal Basics Volume 1, which was published in 1999. I never saw the original edition of this video, so I'm not qualified to comment on how the new revised version compares with the original. All comments in this review are directed to the 1999 revised edition.

On this video, Carolena Nericcio teaches fundamental belly dancing moves. It's very appropriate for the total novice who either wants to learn how to belly dance from video, or wants to supplement what she's learning in the classroom with a video for home practice. Each move begins with an explanation of how to do it, followed by a demonstration. Each demonstration continues long enough to give you enough time to practice it along with the on-screen dancers. For that reason, there are not a large number of moves taught, but it would be easy to use this video for practice because you wouldn't need to rewind frequently.

If you consider yourself to be an intermediate or advanced dancer, you may find this video to be too elementary for your taste. Admittedly, it would be helpful for review of moves you already know or getting ideas on how to teach moves to other people by watching how Carolena explains them--the question is whether that's what you're looking for. If you already know basic belly dance movements and now you just want to learn the FatChance style of make-up, costuming, or group improvisation, then you should focus your attention on the other videos produced by this group.

Regardless of your belly dancing experience level, if you enjoy watching the American Tribal Style, you'll probably enjoy the 20-minute performance at the end.

The video is called Tribal Basics because Carolena Nericcio and her dance company FatChanceBellyDance specialize in performing the American Tribal style (also known as Tribal Fusion), and it teaches the basic moves that they use. (More information about the Tribal Fusion style appears elsewhere on this web site.) American Tribal was created in the United States in the 1960's. Today, the FatChanceBellyDance troupe are probably its best known performers. Despite the Tribal Basics name, the moves taught on this video are common to all belly dancing styles. The stomach rolls, pivot bumps, and other moves are just as likely to be performed by a dancer wearing beads and sequins as they are by someone in coins and turbans. So, regardless of your preferences with respect to style of music and type of costume, you can use the moves this video teaches.

Throughout the video, three dancers work together to demonstrate the moves. All three dancers executed the moves competently, and it was nice to see how the various moves looked on different bodies. For the instructional section of the video, all three dancers wore a common uniform: a choli (midriff blouse), a pair of leggings, and a hip scarf. The instructional section ends with a review section in which the trio, still dressed in their practice clothing, improvise using the steps that were taught. This could be very helpful to a beginning dancer who wants to see how to fit the moves together into a complete dance with transitions between them.

The video ended with a 20-minute performance by Carolena and her two associates. FatChance is known for doing group improvisation, in which one dancer leads and the others emulate what she does. They take turns in the role of leader. On this video, they performed this improvisation wearing the style of tribal costuming that they originated: full skirts, turbans, cholis, coin bras worn over the top of the cholis, and hipbands embroidered with mirrors in the Central Asian style.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You've never belly danced before and you'd like to start with a video that explains basic moves well.
  • You're a passionate fan of Carolena Nericchio and FatChanceBellyDance and you want to own every video they have produced.
  • You're a teacher who is looking for ideas on how to explain difficult-to-teach moves such as belly rolls.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You're an intermediate or advanced dancer and you feel you have already mastered basic moves such as figure 8 or shimmy.
  • You're looking for a video that will teach the American Tribal Style concept of group improvisation, with step combinations and cues. The content of this particular video is much too elementary for that.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

There's a lot to like about Tribal Basics Volume 1, 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.
  • Two other dancers help Carolena demonstrate the moves so you can see how they look on different people. The clothing they wore made it easy to see the movements.
  • Carolena provides an appropriate level of emphasis on the importance of good posture--something many belly dancing teachers fail to do.
  • I liked the moving meditation she taught as part of the warm-up.
  • Even though this was her video, Carolena was willing to share the spotlight with others. Over the course of the video, the camera frequently focuses close-ups on each of the other dancers. I liked the fact that Carolena did not come across as insisting on being the center of attention all the time! The viewer benefits by getting to see alternate interpretations of the dance.
  • With most of the moves taught, Carolena talks about what to do with the arms too.
  • During the instructional part, the dancers were facing a mirror and the camera shot the scene from behind them. This enables the viewer to at once see what the movement looks like both from the front and also from behind.
  • There was nice variety in the choice of camera angles. It never got monotonous.
  • Following the introduction of all the steps, there was a review. Carolena reiterated her comments about posture, which were good, followed by 13 minutes of the dancers improvising together as a group to repeat each step that was taught. This review illustrated how the different moves covered on this video could be combined into a complete dance, and also showed how multiple dancers working together could perform these moves as a group.
  • I was pleased that Carolena taught stomach rolls on this video. Many teachers don't introduce this move to their students because they can't do it themselves. Carolena is well-known in the belly dancing community for her excellent control of her abdominal muscles, and she explained the stomach roll well on this video.
  • The credits at the end identify the tapes/CD's that were used for the accompanying music, so a student who enjoys that music will know what to purchase. FatChance sells this music through their mail-order business, making it easy for a student to get it.

What I Didn't Like

Overall, I really liked this video very much. Note that I gave it an overall rating of 5 stars despite the following issues:

  • Sometimes, when a new move was being introduced, the camera angle made it difficult at first to see what the move looked like. Eventually, the angle would change and then the move would be easier to see, but there were a few times (for example, when Carolena was teaching the choo-choo) that the initial angle was poorly chosen.
  • I would have preferred that Carolena have not used the name taxeem to describe one of the moves she taught. This word, sometimes spelled as taxim or taqsim, is an Arabic musical term that means "solo". Admittedly, often when a musician is playing a taxeem, it may be appropriate to use the move that Carolena called by this name. However, I would have preferred that she would have called this move something else because her use of the word taxeem leads beginning dancers into misunderstanding a term that means something quite different to musicians and native speakers of Arabic.
  • On a couple of occasions, when describing moves, Carolena used terminology (names of specific muscles) not familiar to me. For example, she talked about using the "oblique muscles" when describing a couple of moves. Now, if you happen to be knowledgeable about the names and locations of various muscles, her use of this terminology is probably rather helpful because it's very precise. The problem for me was that I didn't know which muscles she meant by these names, so it was harder for me to grasp what she wanted me to do.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Movements Included

  • Warm-Up: Included several warm-up exercises
  • Hip Articulations: 4 moves (basic shimmy, Egyptian, pivot bump, choo-choo)
  • Hip Undulations: 1 move (figure 8 taxeem)
  • Traveling Steps: 0 moves, but some of the moves taught as hip articulations can also be used to travel
  • Body Undulations: 5 moves (rib cage isolation, torso isolation, body wave, belly roll, Arabic)
  • Arms: 1 move in particular (undulation), but suggested arm movements were also taught for use with some of the hip moves
  • Finger Cymbals: 1 rhythm (threes)

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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

The following are opinion polls only for other videos by Carolena:

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers


Although I've had occasional brief conversations with Carolena Nericcio via e-mail and in person at belly dance events, I don't know her very well. My encounters with her have been quite pleasant. I respect her very much as a dance colleague and an astute business woman. The video that I reviewed was sent to me as a complimentary copy. It is standard practice in the journalism world for producers of books, music, and videos to send them to the media in hopes they will be reviewed, and that is why I received one.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact FatChanceBellyDance as follows:

P.O. Box 460594
San Francisco, CA 94146

Phone (+1) (415) 431-4322

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

General: | Home | Shira's Classes | E-Mail Shira | About Shira | Shira's Photo Gallery | Shira's Performances | Troupe |

Belly Dancing Information & How-To's: | About Belly Dancing | How-To's | Middle Eastern Culture | Belly Dancing Fun & Frolic | Belly Dancing Poetry & Art | Reviews: Books, Music, Videos | Find Belly Dancing Teachers/Performers | Tech Talk | Links |

Using This Site: | Table Of Contents (Site Map) | Search This Site | Survey | Behind The Screens |