Egyptian Belly Dancing
with Hilary Thacker:
Beginners' Introduction, Video 1

A Video Review By Shira

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

This video teaches introductory belly dance moves, geared to the level of a student with absolutely no prior belly dancing experience. It teaches fundamentals such as hip slides, figure 8's, hip drops, and other similarly basic moves. At various points, Hilary shows how to assemble these moves into combinations.

Why I gave it 3 stars:

  • Hilary did a good job selecting content for this video. She made appropriate choices for basic beginner moves, and organized them into a logical order.
  • I liked the fact that periodically Hilary showed how to put the moves together into simple combinations.
  • The production quality wasn't as good as I would have preferred. Hilary's decision to use a black costume against a dark gray background made it tiring to watch the video for any length of time, and the sound quality was poor.
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To purchase this video from Amazon:

Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

DVD Edition U.S.
Not offered U.K.
VHS Tape Edition Not offered Not offered U.K.

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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Novice
Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 41:09 minutes
Performance Time 1:08 minutes (3%)
Teaching Time 39:18 minutes (96%)
Amount Of "Other" 1:51 minutes (4%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues Yes
Number Of Models 1
List Price $29.95 for NTSC (U.S.),
15.95£ for PAL (U.K.)
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time 74 cents (NTSC, U.S.)
39 Pence (PAL, U.K.)
Cost For "Other" $1.20 (NTSC, U.S.)
64 Pence (PAL, U.K.)

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Egyptian Belly Dancing with Hilary Thacker, Beginners' Introduction, Video 1 teaches very basic belly dancing moves suitable for students in introductory classes who would like something to guide their at-home practice or for students who are trying to learn belly dancing from video without an instructor.

Hilary does the bulk of her instruction wearing a black bra/belt set over a black skirt. The outfit is pretty, but the skirt prevented me from seeing what her legs and feet were doing. Most of the time this wasn't a problem, but occasionally it would have been nice to better how much she was bending her knees or how her weight was positioned.

Hilary's skin contrasts nicely with the dark gray background behind her, but her black clothing blends in somewhat. Although the lighting for the video isn't bad, it's not strong enough to overcome this issue. I watched this video twice, once on a poor-quality television set, and once on a high-quality set. On the low-quality equipment, it was very hard to watch this for any length of time. It came across much better on my high-quality equipment, but my eyes still felt fatigued after watching a while. It also would have been better if the skirt color had contrasted with the bra/belt set color rather than blending.

The production quality is not the greatest. The worst issue is the poor sound quality - the music is too loud, so I had to strain at times to hear what Hilary was saying. Also, her voice came across as somewhat fuzzy. I think her enunciation was probably okay, but the sound equipment just didn't pick it up well.

The video opens with just a 1-minute stylized performance. Hilary then plunges directly into instruction. The video is broken up into six major segments:

  • Straight Lines, Circles, Horizontal Eights
  • Vertical Eights
  • Hip Drops, Egyptian Walk
  • Hits, Shoulder Shimmies, The Twist
  • Hands, Snaky Arms, Camel Walk
  • The Veil

In each section, Hilary begins with teaching the basic building blocks. Then she adds to them and shows how to vary them, followed by incorporating them into some simple combinations. I liked her format very much. She explains each move well, and demonstrates most moves from multiple angles. She also incorporates suggested arm movements throughout the video, so at the time you learn a hip move you also learn an arm position that works well with it. I found this to be effective.

Hilary frequently uses imagery to help you visualize what she wants to do. The most pervasive imagery throughout the video was encouraging you to wear a hip scarf for your practice, then imagine the angle or behavior of the scarf through various moves. I felt her images were well-chosen, and helped articulate the points she was trying to make.

I was disappointed that the video had very little performing. It would have been nice to end with a 3-minute performance segment.

You're likely to enjoy this video if:

  • You're an absolute beginner at belly dancing, and you really need to start at the very beginning.
  • You'd like a video that shows you how to start putting the various basic moves together into a dance.
  • You live in the U.K. and you'd be happier with a video featuring a British instructor rather than a U.S. one.

This video is probably not right for you if:

  • You already have taken more than 6-8 months of belly dancing classes taught by a live teacher and you're looking for a video that will either teach you new things or serve as a framework for practicing.
  • You want a video that includes a full-length (3 minutes or more) performance segment.
  • You prefer to avoid videos with lighting or sound quality issues.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Hilary chose moves that were appropriate for the type of dancer (absolute beginner) that she intended this video for. She organized them into a logical sequence that was easy to follow.
  • Several times Hilary offered good advice about posture that was right on target for avoiding injury.
  • After teaching several moves, Hilary would provide guidance on how to assemble the moves she had just taught into simple combinations. This provides a nice introduction on how to put all the individual moves together into a complete dance. I felt that this made Hilary's better than some other beginner videos I've seen.
  • Hilary demonstrated each move from multiple angles, making it easy to see how different body parts worked together.
  • Throughout the video, when Hilary introduces a new hip or rib cage move she also provides suggestions on suitable arm movements to go with it.
  • Titles on the screen made it easy to follow the breaks between lessons, and also made it easy to fast-forward or rewind to selected sections.

What I Didn't Like

  • The skirt and belt were the same color, and the black skirt/belt against the dark gray background was fatiguing to watch for very long.
  • Hilary's shoulders seemed to droop a bit frequently through the video. She made good comments about the importance of a straight back, but because her shoulders seemed a bit rounded it made her less credible as a posture role model.
  • The only performance was a brief 1-minute dance at the beginning of the video. Most beginners enjoy it when instructional videos include about a 3-minute dance performance in costume so they can really see how it all looks together.
  • The fact that Hilary wore a skirt made it difficult at times to see what her legs and feet were doing.
  • The sound quality was poor. The music was too loud, so it was difficult to hear Hilary's voice over the music. The sound quality also seemed a bit fuzzy - it made it seem that Hilary wasn't enunciating clearly even though I believe she was.

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Movements Included

  • Hip Articulations: 6 moves (hip drop, alternating hip drop, wobble (shimmy), drop on a single hip, hit (same as hip bump on Magical Motion video), twist hips)
  • Hip Undulations: 4 moves (hip slide, hip circle, horizontal figure 8, vertical figure 8)
  • Traveling Steps: 6 moves (walk with hip drop, Egyptian walk (some U.S. dancers call this 3/4 shimmy with down accent), hip slide with walk, hip circle walk, horizontal figure 8 with walk, vertical figure 8 walk)
  • Body Undulations: 3 moves (rib cage slide, rib cage circle, rib cage horizontal figure 8)
  • Arms: 7 moves (push/pull shoulders, hand circles, wrists in/out, wrists up/down, snake arms, parallel wrists in/out, camel walk)
  • Veil: 8 moves (hold sheer veil in front, bullfight, spin with veil behind, figure 8 with arm, twist veil & drag in dirt, hold bunched veil over head, butterfly, sandwich)

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In Conclusion

The content of this video is quite good for brand-new beginning belly dancers, although the sound quality is disappointing. I would recommend this video for people who don't have a teacher and want to try learning belly dance from video, and it could also be helpful as a practice-at-home tool for students in elementary-level belly dance classes. Even if you've already worked with another basic moves video in the past, you may learn something from the way Hilary puts moves together into combinations and teaches arms along with the fundamental hip moves.

I would not recommend this video for dancers who have been taking classes for more than five or six months, because the moves might seem too basic for 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 Hilary Thacker, choose from the list below:

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Hilary and I have exchanged web site links for a few years. She sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review for my web site.

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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.
Not offered U.K.
VHS Tape Edition
Not offered
Not offered U.K.

Or, contact Hilary in the U.K. as follows:

Hilary Thacker
8, Bellevue Terrace
Edinburgh EH7 4DT
United Kingdom

Web Site:

Or, contact Donna Carlton (Hilary's U.S. agent) as follows:

International Dance Discovery
P.O. Box 893
Bloomington, IN 47402-0893

Phone: (+1) (812) 330-1831
Web Site:

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