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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

Bellydance Live, Volume 5:
The Tabla Solo

by Keti Sharif


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

Keti Sharif offers instruction on how to dance to a drum solo geared at people who have intermediate dance skills but are new to working with drum solos. ("Tabla" is the Arabic word for "drum".) She explains several of the rhythms frequently found in Egyptian drum solos, and teaches moves that can be used with each. Then she shows how to assemble these moves into combinations. The instruction and performances on drum solos last about 50 minutes; the remaining 8 minutes consist of interviews with various Australian dancers regarding their thoughts on belly dance. Bellydance Live Part 5 VHS Cover


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What Users Think

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The above poll includes responses submitted since July 6, 2003.

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 Egyptian-style dance to drum solo
Recommended Dance Skill Level Intermediate
Overall Rating StarStarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 57:26 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 29:18 minutes (51%)
Time Devoted to Performance 18:35 minutes (32%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 9:33 minutes (17%)
Choreography? No


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On this, the fifth and final video in Keti Sharif's 5-part Bellydance Live video series, Keti teaches how to dance to drum solos that use Egyptian rhythms. (The word "tabla" means "drum" in Arabic.) She aims her instruction at an intermediate dancer who has little or no prior experience dancing to drum solos, and does an excellent job of delivering the type of information such a dancer would need.

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, like a weekly television series that always opens with the same introductory screens.

Keti begins the instruction with a review of the drum rhythms that were taught on the first video in the Bellydance Live series, including:

  • Malfuf: Entry/Exit Rhythm
  • Masmoudi: With 2 Doms
  • Masmoudi: With 3 Doms
  • Baladi: Stepping Hip Drop Rhythm
  • Baladi or Maqsoum with Accents
  • Fellahi: Fast & Festive

For each rhythm reviewed, Keti asks her drummers to play it. As they do, she offers voiceover explanation of the rhythm and does a demonstration of how to dance to it. Accompanying her in this instruction is a percussion ensemble of three musicians.

Following this review, Keti proceeds to show how these rhythms can be combined in the context of a real performance. As the drummers play each of the rhythms in turn, moving smoothly from one to another as they might in a performance, Keti does a demonstration dance in her practice outfit. On-screen titles identify the rhythm being played. This lasts about 7 minutes, providing a useful review of the rhythms explained in the earlier section.

Next Keti performs in full professional costume to a 3-minute tabla solo. As the performance proceeds, voiceover comments offer insights into putting together a dance performance, including an explanation of the "rule of 4's".

The next section of the video introduces additional rhythms that commonly occur in Egyptian drum solos. Each features a performance clip in full professional costume with comments by Keti recommending ways to interpret it:

  • Maqsoum
  • Wahda we Noss
  • Saiidi
  • Zaffah
  • Ayoub
  • Zaar

Keti then introduces a series of shimmy moves which can be incorporated into a drum solo performance. These include basic shimmy, transfer shimmy, accented shimmy, front/back shimmy step, undulating shimmy, walking shimmy, samba shimmy, and shoulder shimmy.

Next comes another drum solo performance in full professional costume. On-screen titles identify each move being done, showing how the material taught earlier on the video fits into a real performance.

After this performance segment, Keti takes about 3 minutes to review the accent moves taught on other videos earlier in the series: hip thrusts, tummy pops, chest pops, downward step, and Fellahin walk.

Now that Keti has reviewed and taught a variety of moves, she uses a section called "Combining Moves" to show how they can be put together into combinations for use in drum solo performances. This brings it all together. Combinations taught, for example, include tummy pops combined with triple step, side step combined with shimmy, and so on. There are ten altogether.

The drum solo instruction ends with another series of performance clips showing Keti performing live in various situations. The clips are useful choices for illustrating the skills that were taught throughout the video, and they also capture the flavor of what a live performance is like.

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 other 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.

After concluding the drum solo instruction, the video offers a bonus: an 8-minute segment titled "Tales from the Oasis" which interweaves comments by dancers with performance clips in full costume. This is not instructional, it simply provides a sense of community and connectedness with dancers in other places. This part was filmed in Australia, and therefore features primarily Australian dancers.


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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If...

  • You're an intermediate dancer with little to no prior experience dancing to drum solos.
  • You're never quite sure what to do when you're dancing to a song that suddenly tosses in a drum segment.
  • You haven't yet learned how to identify the most common Egyptian drum rhythms, and you'd like an introduction.
  • Although you may be able to identify common Egyptian drum rhythms, you don't really know what dance moves might work with each.
  • You're a teacher looking for ideas on how to introduce drum solos to your own students.

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

  • You're already comfortable dancing to drum solos and you're looking for a video that offers new inspiration for spicing up your act - you may find this video too elementary for your needs.


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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • The video is very well organized, with each section building on the one before. Additionally, the video as a whole nicely builds on the previous four videos in the Bellydance Live series. By the time this video is completed, an intermediate dancer who previously had no clue about drum solos should have enough material to do a simple performance to a drum solo based on Egyptian rhythms.
  • The moves and concepts taught are very appropriate to the level of dancer that Keti intends this video to reach.
  • Keti offers useful explanations of common Egyptian drum rhythms.
  • It's enjoyable to see live musicians accompanying Keti's rhythm instruction. It contributes additional energy to the scene.
  • Excellent production quality - even the black costume against the black background was lit well enough to be easy to see.
  • Keti wears gorgeous costumes in the performance clips.
  • Keti offers useful tips, such as Hossam Ramzy's "rule of 4's".

What I Didn't Like:

  • In Keti's first full-costume performance on the video, the camera focuses on her face at times when it should be showing what her hips are doing.


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Movements Taught

  • Shimmies: Basic shimmy, transfer shimmy, accented shimmy, front/back shimmy step, undulating shimmy, walking shimmy, samba shimmy, shoulder shimmy
  • Combinations: Tummy pops + triple step, side step + shimmy, hip drops + triple step, wahda we noss + tummy pops, shimmies + jumps, hip drop + shimmy walk, shoulder shimmy + hip lifts, hip drops + shimmy walk, shoulder double hip thrusts + triple steps, shimmy + shimmy walk
  • Review of Accent Moves: Tummy pop, chest pop, hip thrust, downward step, Fellahin walk


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In Conclusion

This video offers an excellent introduction to dancing with drum solos for intermediate dancers who have previously had little or no drum solo instruction. It provides a well-explained, valuable review of basic Egyptian rhythms that frequently appear in drum interludes, and offers suggested moves and combinations to use with them. I find it to be a very satisfying close to Keti's 5-part Bellydance Live video series, and I strongly recommend it to drum solo newcomers who would like a step-by-step introduction to dancing to these exciting musical segments.

A dancer who is already very experienced with drum solos would probably find the instruction on this video to be too elementary for her taste, but dance teachers may pick up some useful ideas on how to introduce rhythms and drum solos to students.



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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