Belly Dancing for Fun and Fitness

A Video Review By Shira

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

This video is designed to teach belly dancing to people with no prior belly dancing experience. First it teaches a group of basic moves, then it presents three simple choreographed dance routines that use them. It's a nice idea, but the instructor and her assistants don't dance well. Their undulations are jerky, their arm movements are awkward, and their posture is slouched. There are much better videos out there.

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

VHS Tape Edition U.S.

To my knowledge, this video has not been released on DVD.


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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Total Novice
Formats Available NTSC
Overall Rating StarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 54:25 minutes
Performance Time 12:49 minutes (24%)
Teaching Time 36:31 minutes (67%)
Amount Of "Other" 5:05 minutes (9%)
Choreography Yes
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 6
List Price $14.95
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 30 cents
Cost For "Other" $1.35

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers


Before he died, the late country-western singer Eddie Rabbitt used his show business connections of production people and distribution channels to produce this belly dancing instructional video featuring his wife Janine as the teacher. The video is organized into three main sections: warm-up exercises, basic moves along with three choreographed dance routines that use them, and a closing 13-minute performance by Janine in full costume.

Eddie himself introduces the video with comments about how much his wife loves the dance and how it has played a beneficial role in their marriage. If you happen to be a fan of Eddie Rabbitt's music, you'll probably enjoy this glimpse into the man behind the public image. However, if you're not familiar with Eddie Rabbitt's position in the world of country-western music, you will probably wish less time had been spent on this portion of the video. Next Janine makes her own introductory comments, and talks briefly about the history of the dance. From there, she briefly describes the structure of a typical belly dance solo performance.

The dance instruction begins with about 5 minutes of warm-up exercises which are appropriate for preparing to belly dance. Behind Janine are four assistants, all of whom have body types similar to hers. The group clearly had not rehearsed the warm-up routine together as a group before shooting the video - the assistants were not at all in unison with Janine.

The set for the instruction is simple but effective. It looks like it may have been shot in one corner of a living room with the furniture moved out of the way. Janine herself stands on a small Oriental rug placed on the hardwood floor, while her assistants just stand directly on the floor behind her. The wall on one side of the corner behind them is a light neutral color, and the window on the other side is covered by curtains in a similar color. All five of the dancers wear brightly-colored leotard/tight sets or unitards which stand out well against this background and it's easy to see what the dancers are doing.

The section titled Dance Routine One comes just after the warm-ups. This section opens with Janine teaching over 10 basic moves, including a couple of walks, snake arms, hip and rib cage isolations, and shimmies. After introducing all these basic moves, Janine teaches the 2 1/2-minute choreography. To teach it, she places text on the screen listing how many beats to allow for each move, and which move to do. The first segment of choreography shown on the screen is about 1/3 of the dance. She then reads the text to you, with some additional explanatory comments about what to do for each line. When she finishes reading through it, she and her assistants demonstrate the choreography up through that point. As they begin each step, a title appears on the screen identifying what to do. Next she follows the same approach to introducing a second segment of the dance, and demonstrates the entire dance taught so far with her assistants. Finally, she teaches the end of the dance and demonstrates the entire choreography with her assistants.

I was a bit confused by some of Janine's terminology: the text on the screen said, "8-8", but when she read it she said, "8 plus 8", and I wasn't sure if it just meant 16 counts or if it meant something else. Despite that, I did like her approach of displaying a screen of text showing what order to do the steps in, followed by a demonstration of the dance with titles on the screen identifying which step to do next. If I were wanting to master this choreography, I would welcome the opportunity to pause my VCR at the introductory screen and manually copy down the order of the steps. Unfortunately, during this whole section, I cringed at the slumping posture, floppy arms, and stance with feet far apart shown by Janine and her assistants.

Next is the section titled Routine Number Two. In this section, Janine is accompanied by only two students helping her demonstrate the moves. Janine teaches a few additional moves, then proceeds to introduce veil work. She shows one way to tuck the veil, then shows how to dance it off. I wish she would have offered a few suggestions on the fabric, size, and shape needed to make a veil, since most beginning students wouldn't be likely to know this. Next, she teaches about a half dozen veil moves. After teaching these moves, Janine moves into teaching her second choreography, which is about 2 1/4 minutes long. This one begins with some moves done while the veil remains tucked, then continues with removal of the veil. The rest of the dance consists of veil work.

In section Routine Number Three, Janine teaches a couple of additional moves, then introduces finger cymbals. She teaches a one-minute choreographed routine which uses the finger cymbals. Her two assistants both seem rather awkward in this section, and one of them appears not to know the dance.

The remaining 13 minutes of the video consist of a collection of eight performances by Janine in full costume. Her costume is beautiful, but her dance skill is not. She dances in time to the music, but her arm positioning is awkward, her posture is hunched, her undulations jerky, and her transitions abrupt. She begins this section dancing to a karsilama with finger cymbals. Next she dances to a debke still using her finger cymbals. From here, she does veil work to Me Alli We Oltelu, followed by a scarf dance to Rampi Rampi. Next she performs standing undulations and floor work to Gamil Gamal, then proceeds with undulations to a bolero. Nearing the end of the set, she shimmies and does staccato hips to Mach Mach, and finishes the performance with a drum solo with shimmies. This series of performances would have been delightful on a skilled dancer with strong technique, because it would have provided viewers of the video with a nice sampler of the forms that belly dancing can take. But since Janine's dance technique appears to be about the level of a beginning student, it was disappointing.

The video ends with about 1 1/4 minutes of closing credits.

Throughout the video, Janine makes a number of comments such as, "I know you can do this." You might appreciate the encouragement, or you might feel like she's talking down to you. I'm certain she intended it to be encouraging, but you might not care for it. It all depends on your personality.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You're a fan of the late country-western singer Eddie Rabbitt and you would enjoy "meeting" his wife through video.
  • You'd like to learn some beginner choreography and you don't mind if the people demonstrating it are poor role models for posture and technique.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You want to see an excellent dancer teaching and demonstrating the moves.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • The moves that Janine chose to teach on this video were appropriate for the beginner-level audience she was aiming to reach.
  • The structure of the video was well organized. Janine had clearly given thought to what she wanted to teach, in what order she wanted to teach it.
  • The lighting was quite good, and the clothing worn by the dancers contrasted well with the background. It was always easy to see the movement of the dancers against the background.
  • Janine's overall attitude displayed a real love of the dance.
  • The choreography for the three routines goes well with the music.
  • The choreography was introduced using written screens of text identifying the order of the moves and how many beats to do of each. This made it easy to make written notes of what to do when.
  • As the choreography was being demonstrated, text titles were displayed on the screen identifying which move was being done. This was helpful in keeping up with what the on-screen dancers were doing.

What I Didn't Like

  • Janine and her assistants are not very good dancers. Their posture is slouched, their undulations are jerky instead of sinuous, their feet are splayed far apart, and their arm movements are awkward. I cringe at the idea that beginners who don't know any better might copy the way moves are done on this video.
  • The assistants who were helping demonstrate the moves didn't always seem to know what was coming next. This was particularly a problem when they lost their place while helping Janine demonstrate the choreographed routines.
  • Janine taught some veil work moves without providing any information about the size, shape, and fabric type needed to make a veil.
  • All too often, the camera focused on faces and upper torsos when it should have been focused on the complete body to show which move was being done.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Movements Included

  • Warm-Ups: 17 moves (wrist/arm push, wrist circles, shrug up/drop, shoulder up/out, side-to-side lean, side-to-side bend, big arm circles, back hip raise, cat, seated straddle with lean, soles together with lean, plié, lunge to sides, balls raise & down, little arm circles, torso circle, touch floor)
  • Hip Articulations: 3 moves (Hip Lift, Shimmy Down & Jump, Hip Shimmy)
  • Hip Undulations: 6 moves (Vertical Figure 8, Little Hip Circle, Big Hip Circle, Horizontal Figure 8 to Back, Horizontal Figure 8 to Front, One-Sided Hip Circle)
  • Rib Cage Articulations: 2 moves (Rib Cage Lift/Drop, Shoulder Shimmy)
  • Rib Cage Undulations: 1 move (Rib Cage Circle)
  • Traveling Steps: 4 moves (Run In, Walking Hip Shimmy, Hip Lift Scoot, Camel Walk)
  • Arms: 3 moves (Wrist Circles, Snake Arms to Sides, Snake Arms to Front)
  • Veil Moves: 6 moves (1 Wrap With Removal, Overhead Figure 8, Spin with Airplane Arms, Flourish, Spin with Veil in Front by Face, Harem Pose)
  • Finger Cymbals: 3 Rhythms (Threes, Sevens, 3-3-7)

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

In Conclusion

I don't recommend this video because the instructor and her assistants lack basic dance skills such as good posture and fluid undulations. If you have a solid foundation in correct technique, along with a teacher who isn't afraid to correct you if you do a move wrong, then you might gain some value from learning the routines on this video because they do provide a framework for learning how to put moves together into a dance. But if you don't have access to a teacher, you would probably benefit more from a different video that provides more suitable role models.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers


I have nothing to disclose. I've never had any kind of interaction with Janine Rabbitt, and I obtained the copy of the video that I reviewed by purchasing it from a normal commercial source.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

VHS Tape Edition U.S.

To my knowledge, this video has not been released on DVD.

Bellydancing Bellydance Bellydancers

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