Egyptian Belly Dancing for Intermediates

A Video Review By Shira

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

This is my favorite of Hilary Thacker's three videos. Hilary teaches intermediate step combinations suitable for use in folkloric Egyptian dance such as baladi and raqs al assaya (cane). She begins with well-organized instruction in variations of hits, hip drops, and the Egyptian walk, beginning with the simple move and then building to more challenging combinations. Next, Hilary introduces the basics of holding and twirling a cane, then teaches brief choreography using the cane and the moves taught on the video.


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Item in U.S. in Canada in United Kingdom

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The Chart

Recommended Level Intermediate
Formats Available NTSC, PAL
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 30:05 minutes
Performance Time None
Teaching Time 27:53 minutes (93%)
Amount Of "Other" 2:12 minutes (7%)
Choreography Yes
Cultural Information No
Music Education No
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 6
List Price $29.00 (NTSC, U.S.)
16.95£ (PAL, U.K.)
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time $1.04 (NTSC, U.S.)
60 Pence (PAL, U.K.)
Cost For "Other" $2.03 (NTSC, U.S.)
1.18£ (PAL, U.K.)

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This is my favorite of Hilary Thacker's videos. The lighting and sound are excellent, the instruction provides clear explanations, and Hilary's demonstrations make it easy to see what she is teaching. She focuses on baladi-style dancing, the folkloric roots from which Oriental dance has evolved, and selects appropriate moves for it.

The video opens with a brief clip of Hilary dancing while wearing a beautiful baladi dress made of tulle bi talli (often called assuit by English speakers) fabric.

The section that teaches move variations is divided into four primary sections:

  • Hits
  • Hip Drops
  • The Egyptian Walk
  • Adding Steps

In each section, Hilary spend 3-4 minutes teaching these variations. For example, in the "Hits" section she reviews regular hits (taught on her first video), hits in threes, wobbling hits, shoulder hits, hitting shimmy, hip snaps, and shoulder shimmy with hits. She begins with the easier moves in the family, then proceeds to more complex ones. She doesn't linger too long on any one move, so a beginner would probably have some difficulty keeping up, while an intermediate should be able to keep pace without becoming bored. After she finishes teaching the moves in that group, the camera switches to a classroom featuring Hilary leading several of her students in a drill that reviews everything just taught.

Next Hilary introduces "the stick", which is what she calls the cane. She discusses its use as a prop and provides a demonstration of how to hold it and how to twirl it, including various poses to hold the cane in while using the moves taught earlier. She shows how to transition the cane from one position to another, incorporating it into the dance.

The video ends with Hilary teaching a choreography that uses cane. She does the choreography while calling out the name of which move to do next. If you want to memorize the choreography well enough to perform it, you'll probably become good friends with your rewind button. The structure of the choreography is not too complex - most moves are repeated 4 times, so if you missed it the first time, you still have a chance to figure out what's going on before it's time to switch to the next. The choreography provides a useful structure for practicing the moves taught earlier.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You're interested in learning moves appropriate to folkloric Egyptian baladi music.
  • You don't have any previous experience with raqs al assaya (cane dance), and you'd enjoy an introduction that includes moves you can also use without a cane.
  • You've been studying belly dancing for at least several months, so you can pick up new moves fairly quickly with less detailed description than what you needed as a beginner.
  • You're a fan of Hilary Thacker and you'd enjoy a high-quality video that showcases her teaching.
  • You're an intermediate dancer who would enjoy working with a video that provides a structure for practicing more complex variations on the basic belly dance moves.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You're not interested in folkloric Egyptian-style dance.
  • Your skill level is either that of a very new beginner or that of a rather advanced dancer.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Hilary teaches moves that capture the flavor of Egyptian baladi dance.
  • While teaching steps and hip moves, Hilary includes suggestions on suitable arm movements to use with them.
  • The lighting, camera work, and sound quality are excellent.
  • After teaching a group of increasingly complex moves that build on a basic such as "hits", Hilary then leads a 2-minute review session accompanied by several of her students to provide some practice in the steps just taught before she moves on to the next topic.
  • For most of the instructional segments, Hilary dances in front of a mirror with the camera set at an angle which shows both Hilary and her reflection in the mirror at the same time. This makes it easy to see the move from two angles simultaneously.
  • It was almost always easy to see what Hilary was doing. The camera showed me what I needed to see, and her attire contrasted well against the background. The only exception was when she was describing how to grip the cane and the camera failed to show a close-up of her hand.
  • For the cane demonstrations, Hilary wears a beautiful baladi dress made of tulle bi talli (assuit) and matching head scarf.
  • When explaining what to do, Hilary selects descriptive word images that clarify the point, such as "a quick game of golf" to describe a sweeping motion with the cane.

What I Didn't Like

  • At only half an hour, the video was much shorter than I would have preferred.
  • At times, Hilary dances with her feet rather wide apart.
  • Although the video identified Hossam Ramzy as the artist whose music was used, it would have been nice if Hilary had identified the specific song title and CD for the song she used for the choreography at the end.

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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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In Conclusion

This is a solid video for intermediate-level dancers seeking a video to assist in home practice or in learning some folkloric Egyptian-style moves. I enjoyed it, and I feel comfortable recommending it.

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