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Can I Learn Belly Dancing from a Video?

There are several reasons you may want to learn how to belly dance from a video. Perhaps you’re self-conscious about your dancing. Or you might not have time or money for classes. Maybe there are no classes in your area, or you’re too young to participate. Whatever your reason, you’d like to learn belly dancing at home. To answer your question, yes, it is possible to pick up some basics or some new moves from a belly dance video. It’s all in how you approach the process.

Selecting Videos

Generally, videos fall into three categories – basic instruction, advanced instruction and professional performances. All three are useful.

The very first video you want to buy is a beginner’s instruction. This will teach you how to hold your body and your arms, how to move… all the basics you need to know for this particular art form. If you have a background in dance, the video may seem a little slow, but this is important for the new discipline. Belly dancing is very different from most other forms of dance, and you need a strong foundation.

Even in the beginning stages, it’s useful to have a video of professional performances. Not only does watching performance inspire you to keep working, you’ll learn some valuable tricks. For instance, transitioning is one of the hardest aspects of any dance, but watching professionals will show you how to dance every single second you’re on the stage.

Learning from Videos

A one-hour video does not translate to one hour of classroom instruction. To maximize the video’s usefulness, the teacher has packed probably 10 to 15 classes into one hour. That’s great for you! However, it does mean that you have to structure the “class” yourself.

Before beginning your dance, it’s essential that you warm up for at least five minutes. The video may or may not include that. Next, practice in front of a mirror so that you can look at arm and body positioning on the video and confirm you have it right.

Finally, don’t attempt more than four or five new moves in a session. A classroom teacher typically shows students a move, then gives them time to drill it. This is rarely included in videos for time reasons. So, learn how to undulate your belly or shimmy your hips from the video, but then put the video on pause. Practice the move for several minutes before moving on.

It’s not necessary – or even possible – to master each move the first day you try it. Rather, you’re attempting to build muscle memory. Eventually, the moves should feel as natural as riding a bike – cliché, but true.

Trying the New Moves

The first time you’re watching the video for a new move, listen carefully to the instruction. Allow the teacher to get into position, then press Pause. Get into position yourself, and check your form in the mirror, making adjustments as necessary.

Next, start the video again, and listen carefully to the teacher’s explanation of how to move your body. Pause again, and practice in front of the mirror. Keep going back over that portion of the video until you feel confident you have a reasonable approximation of the move.

Most videos include a section of the teacher dancing, usually with the moves from the lesson. If not, this is where the professional performances come in handy. Watch the dance, and try to mimic the target move. Attempt the shimmy or slide that comes before as well as the transition, even if you haven’t learned those steps yet. Focus on the transition, and try to nail the target step. That will give you a feel for how to incorporate your belly dance moves into actual dancing.

Have you had success learning from videos? Share your tips below!

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