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.
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