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A Review of

Tribal Basics, Volume 2:
Makeup & Costume

by Carolena Nericcio


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

Carolena Nericcio, director of FatChanceBellyDance, explains how to apply stage make-up and select costuming suitable to produce the look of American Tribal Style belly dancing. Following this, the FatChance troupe does a 19-minute performance. Cover


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What Users Think

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The above poll includes responses submitted since February 7, 2004.

Note: Shira has a policy against video producers asking their students, family, and friends to pad the votes, or campaigning for favorable votes through their web sites. Click here for detailed information about the policy.


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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter Costuming and stage make-up for American Tribal Style of belly dance
Recommended Dance Skill Level

All levels

Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 57:16 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 33:04 minutes (58%)
Time Devoted to Performance 19:07 minutes (33%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 5:05 minutes (9%)
Choreography? No
List Price as of June 11, 2009* $25.00
Price Per Minute 48 cents
Price For "Other" $2.22

* Pricing information was current as of the date indicated above, but may have changed since then. Please contact the video producer for the most current pricing information.


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On this video, Carolena Nericcio, the director of the San Francisco dance company Fat Chance Belly Dance, teaches the make-up and costuming techniques used to achieve the Fat Chance look.

The first time I viewed this video, the opening made me wonder whether my VCR was showing me the video or showing me live television. It shows a series of people walking toward the camera, bags in hand, and saying, "Hi Julia!" as they approach the camera.

Carolena begins the instruction by talking about the purpose of costume and make-up, including useful comments about how and why stage make-up differs from normal everyday make-up.

The 10-minute make-up instruction begins with thoughts about how to assemble a make-up kit, then covers foundation, lid base, eye make-up, blush, and lip liner. The tone of the instruction assumes the viewer has prior knowledge or experience with applying make-up, and builds on how that might apply to stage make-up. There are no specific instructions for particular facial shapes or features, just general advice leaving it to the viewer to work out the specifics for herself. The first part of the make-up section offers useful stage make-up information applicable to all belly dancers, not just those aspiring to the American Tribal Style look. The last section, on bindis and facial tattoos, focuses specifically on the Tribal look.

The 21-minute costuming section focuses on how to select suitable garments rather than on constructing them, including choli, pantaloons, hip shawl, coin bra, tassel belt, turban, and jewelry. Carolena talks about styles and recommends fabrics. She includes some well-described ethnic insight into the midriff-baring blouse known as a choli along with pictures of some beautiful specimens. For each garment, it shows an example and explains the thought behind the style and what to look for. The detailed section on how to wrap a turban should be helpful to dancers who want to try one for themselves. Some well-chosen comments about authenticity explain that this ensemble does not attempt to match the look of any particular ethnic group.

A 19-minute performance segment features 6 members of the Fat Chance Belly Dance ensemble in full costume and make-up, to showcase how the finished look appears in the context of the dance style. The individuals included are Carolena Nericcio, Jill Parker, Rina Rall, Suzanne Elliott, Elle Livesay, and Andra Young. The dancers take turns coming forward in pairs and trios to dance, while the others stay behind and dance simpler moves as a chorus. The music used for this segment appears on the CD Sirocco Volume One by the band Sirocco and the CD Dancing Drums by Susu Pampanin.

The Fat Chance members performing on this video are very strong, flexible, and athletic. A high point occurs when three of them go into deep backbends followed by a drop to the knees. Carolena herself also performs a solo segment to a drum solo in which she displays her expertise with stomach rolls and other abdominal isolations.

For the instructional part of the video, I find the production quality to be "good enough" homemade. There's enough light, the sound quality is very clear, and it's easy to see the techniques being described. However, the production quality deteriorates for the performance segment and interferes somewhat with my ability to enjoy it. The focus seems less sharp than the instructional segment, and some special effects are used which distract rather than enhance. In fact, the first time I watched this video I thought there was something wrong with either the tape itself or my machine. The continuity of the music helped me realize that the blurs and jerkiness in random places were intentional.


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Is It Right for You?


You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If

  • You already can apply "daytime" make-up and want ideas on how stage make-up might differ.
  • You would like to watch as the Fat Chance Belly Dance troupe applies make-up to achieve its look.
  • You would appreciate some insight into the ethnic background behind the choli as a garment.
  • You want instructions on how to wrap a turban.
  • You would enjoy watching a 19-minute performance by Fat Chance Belly Dance.


This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • You know almost nothing about applying make-up and need elementary make-up instructions that start at the very beginning.
  • You're looking for instructions on how to construct costume garments.
  • You want instruction in how to do dance moves.
  • You're not particularly interested in the American Tribal Style variant of belly dance.


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What I Liked, What I Didn't


What I Liked:

  • The information presented is organized very well.
  • The narration is crisp and clear.
  • A variety of people are used to illustrate the key points.
  • The performance segment features skilled dancers doing the dance style that the makeup and costuming taught on this video are intended to be used with, so the overall look can be seen in the context of the dance it goes with.
  • Carolena offers ethnic / historical perspective on cholis as a garment and some other make-up and costume topics.


What I Didn't Like:

  • I feel the beginning section where people arrive and wave at the camera is a waste of space on the video.
  • The production quality needs improvement in the performance segment.
  • The make-up instruction could be use more how-to detail.
  • There aren't any darker-skinned models to show how the makeup techniques might need to be varied for dancers of color.


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In Conclusion

If you're captivated by American Tribal Style belly dance and you'd like to know how they achieve their look with make-up and costuming, then you'll probably enjoy this video very much despite the production quality. The instruction in stage make-up contains information that could be useful not only by American Tribal Style dancers, but others as well, and the costuming section's strongest point lies in its description of how to wrap turbans.



Reviews of Other Videos By This Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos featuring Carolena Nericcio of Fat Chance Belly Dance, choose from the lists below.


Instructional Videos:


Workout Videos:








I have had some professional dealings with Carolena, but we have never had the opportunity to truly get acquainted. I respect her highly for her innovation in creating the American Tribal Style variation of belly dancing and her astute marketing skills which fostered the phenomenal popularity of this style. She sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review.



Where to Get It


Via Amazon Stores

VHS edition: U.S. Canada U.K.

DVD edition: U.S. Canada U.K.


Contact Information

P.O. Box 460594
San Francisco, CA 94146

Phone: (+1) (415) 431-4322

Web Site:




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