Instant Belly Dancer: Curves, by Neon

A Video Review By Shira

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This video is now out of print. Neon has replaced it with a new release titled Instant Bellydancer 1: A Crash Course, which incorporates the material from both Instant Bellydancer: Curves and Instant Bellydancer: Hipwork Plus. Even though Neon no longer sells this video, I have kept this review online for the benefit of people who might be considering buying a used copy.

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

Unlike most belly dance instructional videos, Neon focuses her lesson on party girls who don't want to "study" belly dance, but do want to "learn a few moves" to spice up their social dancing when they go out clubbing. Neon focuses this video on moves based on circles, half circles, and infinity loops (figure 8's).


To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
All regions
All regions
NTSC (from U.S.)
All Regions

This video has not been released in a VHS tape version (at least, not in the English language.)

(Amazon's claim that the DVD version is Region 1 is wrong. 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 have personally tested this DVD and found it to enable all regions.)

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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.

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The above poll includes responses submitted since February 29, 2004.

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The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice
Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 58:47 minutes
Performance Time 2:58 minutes (5%)
Teaching Time 53:11 minutes (90%)
Amount Of "Other" 2:38 minutes (5%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price $24.99
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 45 cents
Cost For "Other" $1.12

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Using up-to-date computer graphics technology to help illustrate her points, Neon teaches a series of belly dance moves based on circles, semicircles, and infinity loops (figure 8's), and shows how to put them together into combinations. The video is designed for people who would like to incorporate some belly dance moves into the social dancing they do at parties, clubs, raves, etc. Neon organizes the moves into families: horizontal circles, vertical circles, horizontal semicircles, vertical semicircles, horizontal infinity loops, and vertical infinity loops. I find this structure very well organized and easy to follow.

Within each move family, Neon shows moves that use the hips, pelvis, rib cage, head, and sometimes hands. Each of these major instructional ends with a section called "Levels, Layering, Travel Steps, and Combinations" which is extremely valuable for understanding how to vary the look of each move and how to assemble individual moves together into an exciting dance. For example, Neon shows how a move can look different just by varying the level (bending the knees deeply versus standing fully upright), or traveling while doing it. For some moves, she also shows embellishments.

Every time Neon introduces a move, she uses a couple of on-screen graphics to help explain it. There's a small drawing of a person's body showing how the move works around the body, and there's also a drawing superimposed over Neon's body showing how the appropriate body part will move. When appropriate, additional on-screen graphics may call attention to which foot the weight is on, which foot is on the ball, etc. Neon is not the first belly dance instructor to use drawings as a tool for showing how the body moves, but her approach is one of the best implementations I have seen.

Throughout the video, Neon wears party clothes (sky blue hip huggers with matching bra and armbands) and high heels rather than the customary exercise garb with hip scarf. It helps reinforce the idea that this video is aimed at the needs of clubbers rather than serious belly dance students.

Nearly all explanations are done through voiceover rather than having Neon speak directly to the camera. While I usually dislike voiceover, in Neon's case I don't mind it because her on-screen personality doesn't have the detachment I usually see with voiceover. Her personality comes right through the camera and makes me feel like she's inviting me to share her fun.

In addition to the instruction in moves, there are a couple of extras. "Start Here" offers introductory comments from Neon, such as recommending that students initially learn the moves barefoot before trying them in the high heels they are likely to wear when they go out dancing. As she speaks, the screen shows her in a variety of different party outfits dancing to techno music. In "Elements of the Method" Neon discusses how the use of layering, level change, combinations, and traveling introduce variety into how the moves are done. "It Is a Dance of Mind" is a 3-minute music video consisting partly of a belly dance performance by Ayshe in a professional belly dance costume and partly of party-dancing by Neon in club-style clothing.

Generally speaking, I am very impressed with this video. Neon has excelled at producing a video suitable for the type of audience she intends to reach with it: the club-goer. Her explanations are detailed and clear, and her on-screen graphics augment her descriptions very effectively. Sometimes she uses a drummer for her music, other times the soundtrack has a strong techno flavor. The overall tone of the video is hip, energetic, and fun.

But what about "serious" belly dancers? I think the video can offer value to them as well, but I do have some reservations. Many aspects of this video are perfectly fine for Neon's intended party audience, but less appropriate to those who want to "study" belly dance. If someone showed up in my class after working with this video, I'd probably be correcting her posture (Neon's posture is fine, but she doesn't "teach" correct posture), slowing down her circles and undulations, and removing the sexual pelvic accents from her hip circles. But I'd also probably praise her ability to do a diverse collection of moves with variations and put them together into a dance, and I'd encourage her to continue the journey. I'd probably steer my own students to a more technique-oriented video. Dancers who are new to teaching will find this video to be a rich source of ideas in explaining moves to their students.

When Neon first released this video, many members of the belly dance community objected to it. This was partly because of her use of the word "instant" in the title (they thought it trivializes the amount of effort it takes to become a skilled dancer), and partly because of Neon's marketing it to "party girls" who wouldn't appreciate that Oriental dance is an art form with a rich cultural texture. After seeing this video, I can't agree with those who object to it. With the excellent production quality and detailed explanations on how to do moves, I think this video represents our dance form to prospective students (especially younger ones) far better than many of the more "serious" videos released by long-time belly dancers that have poor production quality and scattered organization.

The video is available only in DVD edition (NTSC video format), not VHS tape. The menu and chapter structure provides a very easy way to navigate through the video. It is regionless and should therefore be playable on any DVD machine worldwide.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You don't want to "study" belly dance, just learn some cool moves for partying.
  • You prefer to learn from a video that feels young, hip, and fun rather than one that looks like it was made in the 1980's.
  • You would find it helpful to see computer graphics on screen to help illustrate how the body produces each move.
  • You have learned isolated moves in the past such as hip circles, and you're looking for a video that guides you through putting them together and varying them.
  • You're new to teaching belly dance and you'd like ideas on how to describe moves to students.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You're offended by the use of the word "instant" in the title because you think it belittles the art form.
  • You believe belly dancing should be done only to Middle Eastern music.
  • You'd like a video that duplicates a typical belly dance classroom experience.
  • You want a video that will emphasize proper posture and technique for producing each move.
  • You take belly dancing quite seriously.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Neon explains moves clearly, and uses drawings to help illustrate key points.
  • Camera always focuses exactly where it should.
  • Excellent production quality.
  • Neon has a spirited, playful on-screen personality.
  • Neon teaches ways to vary the look of each move and ways to put the moves together.
  • The video covers a large number of moves in the time available.

What I Didn't Like

  • The sections that assemble moves into combinations move very fast, and it's hard to keep up.
  • The video would probably annoy Oriental dance purists because it doesn't focus on technique or cultural correctness.
  • Neon's pink lipstick distracts me.

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Movements Included

  • Hip Articulations: 2 moves (hip lift, hip drop)
  • Hip Undulations: 19 moves (hip circle, "decorating" hip circle with bounces and stomach contractions, pelvic circle, one-hip circle, vertical hip circle with torso drop, vertical pelvic roll, hip semicircle toward front, hip semicircle toward back, twist flourishes for hip semicircles, hip twist, pelvic semicircle, one-hip arc, one-hip twist, vertical pelvic semicircle, hips infinity loop (figure 8), one-hip infinity loop, hip circles infinity loop, vertical hips infinity loop, reversed vertical hips infinity loop)
  • Traveling Steps: Neon demonstrates how to turn nearly every move taught into a traveling move.
  • Rib Cage Undulations: 4 moves (chest circle, upper body circle, chest infinity loop, reverse chest infinity loop)
  • Body Undulations: 4 moves (upper body circle, upper body semicircle, full-body undulation, reversed full body undulation body wave)
  • Head: 4 moves (head slide, head circle, head roll, head infinity loop)
  • Arms: 3 moves (shoulder roll, snake arms, hand infinity loop)

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

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




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In Conclusion

This video is definitely aimed at the interests of teens and twenty-somethings who want to incorporate belly dance moves into their party/club dancing. For this audience, it's very well designed, and should deliver exactly what they are looking for. But it is also so rich with suggestions for varying and embellishing moves that even a serious student of belly dance will probably gain some new ideas if she can put her prejudices aside long enough to spend time working with it. But she'll have to get her lessons in technique elsewhere. People who are new to teaching belly dance will find some excellent ideas on this video for explaining how to do the moves. This is the kind of video that's perfect for some people and entirely wrong for others.

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I have chatted with Neon through e-mail, but I don't know her very well. She sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review.

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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
All regions
NTSC (from U.S.)
All Regions

This video has not been released in a VHS tape version (at least, not in the English language.)

(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 Neon as follows:

Web Site:

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