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A Review of

Bellydance Live, Volume 1:
Introduction to Music & Rhythms

by Keti Sharif


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

This video does something I haven't yet seen any other belly dance video do: it discusses the different types of musical instruments and rhythms used in Egyptian music, shows what they look like, and offers suggestions on how to dance with each. Keti is assisted by an orchestra of musicians who play a variety of instruments representative of those used for a typical Egyptian Oriental dance performance. Bellydance Live, Volume 1 VHS Cover


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What Users Think

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The above poll includes responses submitted since November 6, 2002.

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 Musical instruments, rhythms, improvisation techniques
Recommended Dance Skill Level Intermediate
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 55:14 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 39:00 minutes (71%)
Time Devoted to Performance 9:03 minutes (16%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 7:10 minutes (13%)
Choreography? No


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This video consists of three major areas: two performances to Egyptian songs, a section on Middle Eastern instruments, and a section on Middle Eastern rhythms. For the instructional segments, Keti wears a short top, leggings, and hip scarf, and features one or more musicians on-screen with her. For the performance segments, she dances in full Egyptian-style bedleh costumes.

The video opens with the same compilation clip that opens the other four videos in the Bellydance Live series, which shows snips from each of the five videos. This creates a level of consistency across the five videos, similar to a weekly television series that always opens with the same introductory screens.

Following this, Keti performs a 5-minute Oriental dance number to the song "Bahlam Beek" in a red and white costume, accompanied by an orchestra.

Next comes the instructional part of the video that focuses on Middle Eastern instruments. Each instrument is introduced with its name on the screen so you can see how these unfamiliar foreign names are spelled. Keti offers a few comments explaining the nature of the instrument and how it is played, and the musician plays some sample free-form taqsim music on it so you can listen to what kind of sound that instrument makes. In most, but not all cases, Keti then offers some recommendations on how to dance to that particular instrument and demonstrates as the musician continues to play. Instruments featured in this section include:

  • Kawala (bamboo flute)
  • Nay (a different type of bamboo flute)
  • Trumpet
  • Accordion
  • Qanoon (sometimes spelled kanoun)
  • Tabla (Arabic drum, often called dumbek)
  • Sagat (finger cymbals)
  • Tabul (bass drum, played with sticks)
  • Reque (Arabic-style tambourine, sometimes spelled riqq)
  • Mizmar (horn, similar to oboe)

My favorite instrument demonstration in this section is sagat. Most belly dancers learn how to play finger cymbals from fellow dancers, rather than learning from musicians who specialize in playing them. The man who demonstrates finger cymbals for this video is very proficient, and it is a delight to listen to the many sounds and rhythms he produces. It is enjoyable to hear finger cymbals played by somebody who can truly make them sound like a musical instrument in their own right. Watching his technique has given me a number of new ideas!

In the instrument section, Keti's instruction focuses on how to dance to free-form taqasim (instrumental solos) played by each instrument. She offers suggestions on which body parts and moves to emphasize in conjunction with each instrument. This section ends with some suggestions on dancing when multiple instruments are playing together as a group.

The next section on Arabic rhythms is about 11 1/2 minutes long. A group of three percussionists assist Keti with live demonstrations of the rhythms malfuf, masmoudi, baladi, Saidi, fellahi, and maqsoum. For each rhythm, Keti offers some opening comments about its structure and how to dance to it, then proceeds to demonstrate as the musicians play a sequence of it.

Following the rhythms instruction, Keti performs another solo, this one to the song "Harana Ayounik". It lasts about 4 minutes.

As with her other four videos in the Bellydance Live series, Keti offers a few closing comments to bring everything together, then ends with the same closing compilation clip that appears on the earlier four videos in the series. Just as with the beginning, it provides a sense of consistency and closure, like the closing credits at the end of a series television show.


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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If...

  • You have a passion for Egyptian-style music and dance.
  • You'd like some education on Egyptian music, including the instruments and the rhythms.
  • You're a fan of Keti Sharif and you would enjoy a video featuring two of her performances.
  • You're an intermediate or more experienced dancer who already has some knowledge of how to improvise to free-form musical solos, and now you'd like some ideas on how to refine your technique.

This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You're a beginning dancer, and you don't yet know enough to improvise to free-form solo music.
  • You're already quite knowledgeable about Egyptian musical instruments and rhythms.
  • You're not enthusiastic about Egyptian-style dancing and music played by full orchestras


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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • Keti uses live musicians to show their instruments being played.
  • Keti suggests ways to dance taqsim in different ways to different instruments, helping a dancer bring variety into the taqsim sections of her performance.
  • I find it extremely valuable that this video demonstrates and explains several musical instruments used in typical Egyptian orchestras. Many dancers know very little about the instruments used to play Middle Eastern music, and this video provides an excellent introduction.

What I Didn't Like:

  • The camera spends far too much time zoomed in on very tight close-ups, showing only the stomach and hips.
  • The qanoon is filmed almost entirely from the front, showing only its edge. I was wishing for a camera angle that would look down at it from above, to show a better view of its overall structure.


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In Conclusion

At last there's a video that educates dancers about a very fundamental aspect of our dance form - the music! At last dancers have access to a resource that shows what some of the Middle Eastern instruments look like and shows a demonstration of each being played! I've seen too many dancers who knew very little about the music they worked with, and this video offers an easy, affordable solution.



Reviews of Other Videos By This Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Keti Sharif, choose from the lists below.

Instructional Videos:

Workout Videos:

Opinion Polls




Keti has sent me several of her products to review here on my web site, including this video. We also had an opportunity to meet in person on one of my trips to Egypt.



To Buy It

Phone: (+61) 412747447
Web Site:

Or, purchase from Keti's U.S. distributor at:

International Dance Discovery
PO Box 893
Bloomington, IN 47402-0893

Phone: (+1) 812-330-1831

Web Site:



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