Video Recommendations

People are often asking for and receiving video recommendations on the medance mailinglist. This is a compilation of a variety of posts on the subject; as ever, your personal tastes, stylistic preferences and needs may vary from the reviewer's. Many of the video tapes are listed on the Video web page; their most current addresses and ordering info should be listed there (prices, etc., below could be out-of-date). If I don't have the videos listed, you could try looking up the dancer in the Dancers' Directory for an address to write to. Otherwise, I don't have the info yet...
Aischa Ali's videos
If you're feeling in an ethnographic mood, Dances of Egypt, produced by Aischa Ali. Warning: personally, I think the quality here is very mixed. 1/4 is travelogue (what a waste!) and the sequences shot at wedding in the cities have mimimal value, but the Gahwazee and folk dances are definitely worth the price if you're into that sort of thing--they are dieing out. I paid $50 at a festival several years ago. Audrena's Boutique, 800-327-3406. --A. Rodakowski

Also recommended by Sherezzah.

I have this one [Dances of Egypt] by Aisha Ali. Good for historical background on dance. Shows Banaat Maazin performing. Also Tahtib (men's stick dance). --Robyn

I have a couple videos by Aisha Ali which have some technical difficulties, like low light levels, etc, but which give good enough information so I that treasure them. --Pat

[One of] my personal favorites...Documentaries (to see what it is really like over there): Dancers of Egypt--Aisha Ali. Wonderful chance to see the REAL thing, all styles. This is the perfect video to show someone who wants to know what in the world this dance is you're involved in. Great Ghawazi footage and folkloric, much of it no longer to be found in Egypt today. --Azar

Basic Middle Eastern Rhythms Vol. I
For a good drumming video, I recommend Michael Beach's Basic Middle Eastern Rhythms Vol. I. I learned how to drum from his video. He teaches baladi, baladi backbeat, broken beat (Malouf), ciftelli, karshilama, ayoob, and 6/8. He gives tips on choosing a drum and shows different percussion instruments and how they sound. He also shows how to play Mid-East rhythms on a drumset if you're into that. Order directly from Brothers of the Baladi, it's cheaper that way (about $35 I believe). --Robyn

Bastet Productions: Kathryn Ferguson videos
An excellent video for the beginning/intermediate dancer. I recommend this one to my students and I watch it myself for review. Good warmups, excellent breakdown of movements. Her costuming leaves a lot to be desired, but Kathryn Ferguson is an excellent instructor. Doesn't cover veil or floorwork. --Robyn

[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Introduction to Belly Dance--Kathryn Ferguson. Well produced and good content. I would recommend this tape to beginners who can only afford one teaching tape. --Azar

Well, an instructional video that is close to my heart is the one that my instuctor made. Her name is Kathryn Ferguson, and the video is called "Introduction to Belly Dance". Kathryn teaches almost every minute of her life, and when she's not dancing or teaching, she's making films, so the video is well put-together, and has won the Silver Award at the Houston International Film Festival. It's also recommended by _Dance_ magazine, _Library Journal_, and _Habibi_. I find it quite useful when I'm not able to attend classes for long stretches....although your "first learning" is best done with a live instructor, video is a great way to review and practice. --Kate

Cairo by Night--National Geographic
[One of] my personal favorites...Documentaries (to see what it is really like over there): Cairo by Night--National Geographic. Perhaps you can find this showing on TV. Also great to show non-dancers. Basically about Lucy, a Cairo dancer. --Azar

[One of] my personal favorites...dancing in videos: Cassandra (my very favorite dancer, she can do everything). Egyptian Moves (4 Oriental) is great, and Live Vol.1 contains caberet and folklore. My next purchase will be her Performance video. She's wonderful. --Azar

Eva Cernik
[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: 4 Dance Classes in Egypt (from Eva Cernik). WONDERFUL chance to go to Egypt and take from Ragia Hasan, the Afifis, Khairyn Maazin. Would not recommend for beginners. --Azar

[One of] my personal favorites...dancing in videos: Eva as Dancer vols. 1, 2, 3. Eva Cernik. Great Turkish style dancer. I like Vol. 3 best. --Azar

Chandra's InstructionalVideos: Basic sword (and series)
I bought her veil video and I did learn how to do double veil from it. However, I wouldn't recommend them. Again bad camerawork. A very static camera and a hard to watch fuzzy picture. --Robyn

Chelydra's No Frills Video Series
When Chelydra says "no frills", she's not kidding. The camera is very static which makes it hard to watch for long periods. Bought her Gypsy Tambourine video which didn't teach me anything I didn't already know about handling a tambourine. However, if you are interested in a new choreography, I feel you could pick it up by watching this video. --Robyn

[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Video Class with Dahlena. My personal current favorite teaching tape. I don't recommend for beginners, but Dahlena is one of the doyennes of American M.E. dance--she has been a professional (in all senses of the word) for probably 30 years. --Azar

Delilah's video series
...I might add that Delilah's series of videos are also good (she offers 3 instructional videos, and her "Dance Delilah Dance" performance video has a very nice variety). --Sherezzah

An excellent series [Delilah's Bellydance Workshop]. I refer to these volumes again and again. Also recommend her costuming workshop, Dance to the Great Mother, and Delilah and Sirocco: Live and Wild! --Robyn

For belly dance videos, my highest recommendations go to Mesmera, and to Delilah Flynn. These two women are hands-down the most professional, entertaining belly dancers I've had the pleasure of patronizing. Their videos are well filmed, giving the viewer a chance to get a good look at their movements. They demonstrate lots of skill and originality, and they have also been very sweet and have always displayed good attitudes. --magdur

[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Delilah's Belly Dance Workshop--Delilah Flynn Probably best all around teaching tapes, well produced, and extensive "library" of b.d. moves for learning and reference, but you need to buy all three volumes and can be quite expensive. --Azar

Suzanna Del Vecchio videos
For instruction, Suzanna Del Vecchio's Pecision Motion Workout, for int. to pro. level dancers. My vendor (Hasani) says it's the best she's seen. $45 + 3 P&H. Suzanna Del Vecchio, PO Box 61383, Denver, CO, 80206. --A. Rodakowski

Also recommended by Sherezzah.

For teaching / workout videos: Suzanna del vecchio's precision motion video ranks high on the list. --Andrea D.

A so-so performance video [Dances From the Heart]. Better buy: her Precision Motion Workout. Although it's not intended as a teaching video, I learned some new moves from it. --Robyn

"Just received Suzanna Del Vecchio's new performance video, 'Dances From the Heart Vol. II'. WOW! ...although I liked a good bit of the first 'Dances From the Heart,' I have to say the lighting & camera work are significantly better on this video. I particularly loved the orientale number, and 'Passionate Balady'--but I knew from the moment she appeared in 'Dark Fire' that this was going to be one of those goose bump numbers. Yawks!!! Sure is! Also a sign of Suzanna's continuing growth as an artist, that she reaches a different emotional level in this number than I've seen her hit before. It's really, really, really powerful. Incredible piece! And I was just thinking, as I watched the other numbers, 'gee, I bet Suzanna would do a great gypsy'. And then out she comes, in 'Gypsy Spirit'. Wow!!! She *does* do a great show here! She gets the steps, the attitude, etc. Those who usually carp about fake gypsy dances can just can it, ;-) because, from what i've seen in studies with Dalia Carella (several times, since 1988), Zeina/Dee Birnbaum, Eva Cernik, Jamila Zahran and Dahlal, she's using *real* steps. Just really a great piece!!! I love her costumes, I love the production, I love the mix on this's a gotta have!" --Shakira

Fat Chance Belly Dance (series)
I love this troupe and have almost every video they've put out. I highly recommend "Tattooed One", "Fat Chance Belly Dance Live!", and their costuming and makeup video. As an advanced dancer, I found that I didn't have much to learn from their first instructional video and I didn't feel that the movements were broken well enough for a complete beginner to follow. --Robyn

Just got the "tatooed one" Fat Chance BD video and it's great - short in length, but inexpensive. A great sample of what American tribal belly dance is all about. I'd be very curious about their makeup and instructional videos if I hadn't been dancing for so long - most of what they do is not new as far as moves, but their implementation of the "tribal" concept is wonderful! and I really love the costumes... --Me'ira

I have FCBD makeup and costuming video and it is excellent. The video shows how the troupe goes about creating their unique look. However, there is a lot here that is adaptable for everybody. Of particular interest to me was the way they wrapped their turbans. I believe that their new video, Advanced Step Variations, has just come out. --Robyn

Suraya Hilal videos
All-time favorite video: Suraya Hilal, Jewels. I know she has other videos out which I haven't found a US source for, but I owuld love to find. Her presentation is so varied, with the style of dance changing substantially between dances, but always extremely elegant and classy. This is not cabaret belly dance, though, so I know not everyone responds to it in the same way I do. But for me this is the epitome of the dance. --Andrea D.

My favourites are also by Suraya Hilal, I love Jewels by her later ones - Celebration of the Nile, based on "musicians of the nile music" and Ghawazi dancing. Also of great team dancers and interation between dancers and musicians. Also a fabulous (but very simple) stick dance by a fellow, a good double by Suraya and Anne Ashcroft, a lovely simple tuxim to Zaamar (spell) in a beautiful black Asyute by Suraya. The other is the Colors of Cairo, also feature more of the troup and group dancers but with time classical and beledi style. --Donna

Horacio Cifuentes and Beata Zadou's videos
Horacio [Cifuentes]'s videos are quite good, and offer both instruction (workout/technique + choreography) and performance. Audrena has them. Also, Horacio and Beata's series are good. I especially like #2 in the series; it has a "Pharonic Suite" with really interesting costumes as well as what I think is the best performance I've ever seen by Horacio (he actually smiles and has fun with the audience). Several vendors sell these, including Audrena and Dahlal and I think Chandra. --Sherezzah

For teaching / workout videos...Also Horacio's first, old solo video, where he does a 20-minute "warmup" before teaching his choreography -- a good, fast exercise routine. --Andrea D.

[One of] my personal favorites...dancing in videos: Oriental Fantasy--Horacio and Beata Zadou. I think they are up to Vol 5 now. They are all wonderful Egyptian styling. All Horatio's videos (alone) are wonderful as well. --Azar

Jasmin Jahal
My very first bellydance teacher, Jasmin Jahal of Chicago, has recently released an instuctional video called "Reach for the Stars" vol. 1. It is very, very good, with an excellent warm up, and it takes you through isolations, arms workhip work...all the basics, ending with a performance by her. The section on hipwork alone makes this video more than worth the price. It is good for both beginners and advanced, as it never hurts to go back to basics, and Jasmin's style is unique. She also strongly emphasizes posture and alignment, something other videos I have seen do not do as clearly. --Meg

Mesmera's videos
Also, I think Mesmera's "Dance of the Serpent" is a good instructional video. I know Audrena has this; other vendors probably do too. --Sherezzah

For belly dance videos, my highest recommendations go to Mesmera, and to Delilah Flynn. These two women are hands-down the most professional, entertaining belly dancers I've had the pleasure of patronizing. Their videos are well filmed, giving the viewer a chance to get a good look at their movements. They demonstrate lots of skill and originality, and they have also been very sweet and have always displayed good attitudes. --magdur

[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Dance of the Serpent--Mesmera. Also well produced beginning tape for someone who can only afford one. --Azar

Moon Over Denver
For performance, Moon Over Denver is tops. (Heard she has a vol. 2 out, but don't know of anyone who's seen it.) Excellent staging, excellent dancing, camerawork and editing much better than average, and over 2 hrs. long. $52.95, Phaedra-Ameerah, 12203-TE Eliff, Box 240, Aurora CO 90014, 303-343-7616. --A. Rodakowski

Also recommended by Sherezzah.

Morocco's tapes
[One of] my personal favorites...Documentaries (to see what it is really like over there): Morocco's Folklore tapes. Morocco went there and taped before many others were doing it. Her tapes contain footage you can find nowhere else. Vol. 2: the Marrakesh Fold Festival (in the country of Morroco) and Berber. Vol. 6: Folk dances in Egypt, Nubian, Sudanese, Dervish, Ghawazi, Taytiyb (men's stick dance) and Reda Troupe. --Azar

Raja's videos
My belly dance videos from Raja are all excellent. --magdur

Rare Glimpses--Ibrahim Farrah
[One of] my personal favorites...Documentaries (to see what it is really like over there): Rare Glimpses--Ibrahim Farrah.Wonderful rare footage to be found nowhere else. Contains Fatima (1897) filmed by Thomas Edison, probably THE first B.D. video (and you can see what they saw in Chicago at the Columbia Exposition), Moroccan Guedra, Berber Gypsies (not what you'll expect if you want "gypsy" styling, but wonderful dancing), and Lebanon's late great caberet dancer Nadia Gamal. --Azar

Suhaila Salimpour
Suhaila dances for the sultan: I like Suhaila, and I think this video is elegantly filmed and shows her well. It creates a very sensuous mood. --Andrea D.

I liked Suhaila Salimpour's Dances for the Sultan, although the camera panned and faded in and out too much to suit me. --magdur

[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Salimpour Format--Suhaila Salimpour. Very old videos (still available?) but great for for all the basic moves with Jamilla's nomenclature (as in the Salimpour Workbook); in several volumes and not slick production like Suhaila's later videos. --Azar

For choreography instruction, you can't beat Suhaila's tapes. She has both a beginner and an advanced choreograpy video out, and they are both well explained and fun to do. --Meg

Shareen al Safy
For teaching, anything by Shareen al Safy. The style isn't the best, in the early ones I have, but the materisl is top-rate. I still work with them sometimes, years later, just to freshen the precision of my technique. --Andrea D.

[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Shareen El Safy Technique. Definitely not for beginners, but WONDERFUL Egyptian styling in this series which is up to vol. 5 now, I think. --Azar

Serena Technique vols. 1-4
[This is one of] my personal favorites...Teaching Videos: Serena Technique vols. 1-4. Not slick production and not recent but gives another style and other movements. --Azar

The Stars of Egypt series
Hossam Ramzy's The Stars of Egypt series. I have the Taheyya Karioka and Naima Akef ones of this series. It also has Samia Gamal, and The Great Unknown (that one's tops on my Christmas list!). Of the two I've seen, I'd strongly recommend the Naima Akef. She's not as well known in the west as Karioka and Gamal, but her crisp movements and dynamite hipwork seem to herald the future direction Egyptian dance would take. One of the regulars on the list, James Janner, is handling distribution. Ramzy Music Int. 11693 San Vicente Blvd. Suite 112F, L.A., CA, 90049. email, --A. Rodakowski

Also recommended by Sherezzah.

I can vouch for the quality of [the Stars of Egypt] video series as I have all but one. I had seen an older video- Dancers of the 40's, and am impressed with the improved quality of some of the same clips that are on The Stars videos. I really enjoy the dancing- typical Egyptian, it is much more suttle. The series is a good visual study of where this art form really started to develop artistically. --Zulaika

The stars of Egypt series is great -- I have learned a lot from it. The one objection I have about it is that often the scenes are cut so that we lose the continuity of the songs and see only the dancing. I would rather have had the song continuing in the background while we heard the protagonists talking about this or that, and seen the dancer when she was on camera, instead of always seeing the dancer but missing some of the song. But other than that, you couldn't do better. You get a lot more dance on the stars of Egypt series than on anything else -- but I don't think it replaces the others. --Andrea D.

Veda Sereem's Quality of Belly Dancing (series)
I bought her cane dance video and was disappointed with it. Very bad video quality. Also her voice was just like fingernails on a blackboard to my ears. --Robyn

Last Modified: 15 Jun 1997
Media Main Page Main Table of Contents