Belly Dance

Belly Dance Crash Course by Michelle Joyce

Crash Course DVD

General impression

Since I discovered Michelle Joyce’s instructional belly dance DVDs, I have become a fan. I think her DVDs are some of the best instructional bellydance DVDs available on the market. Michelle always explains her movements very clearly and includes a lot of drills for dancers to practise. Hence, her belly dance DVDs are very good practice companions.

Of course, this DVD does not contain all the possible belly dance movements that a beginner belly dancer can learn. This is natural, as there are so many movements in belly dance, that a DVD covering all would have to last for hours. However, there is enough for a beginner to sink her/his teeth into and certainly the basic movements are there. Some movements that are missing though, which are fundamental also, are chest isolations and hip and shoulder shimmies. I think this DVD is great but, in order to get a more rounded approach to belly dance (in terms of different teaching and performing styles) and learn some of the missing basic movements, you may also want to study with other DVDs for beginners, such as Cara’s.

In terms of clarity, Michelle could not be any clearer not any more thorough. She gives a lot of safety tips, explaining which muscles to use for each movement, and also she uses visual imagery to help dancers understand the concepts behind each move. Also, she is standing in front of a mirror, so the viewer can see her movements from the front as well as the back at the same time.

DVD Content

This DVD explains some of the fundamental belly dance movements and is divided into sections, according to the groups of movements, such as hip circles, sharp hip movements and undulations.

For each group of movements there is a section in which Michelle explains the technique behind each move; then this is followed by drills for beginners. There is then a further section, for advanced beginners, where this movements are put together in short combinations that are practised extensively, first slowly then more quickly. It is very easy to select which section to watch from the main menu

At the beginning of the DVD there is a short introduction and then a part about posture, which is a starting point for correct and safe technique. Then, the DVD is divided in the following parts:

  • Sharp hip movements: hip bumps and drops, lower abs locks and hip squares.
  • Body waves: undulations and reverse undulations.
  • Arms and hands: snake arms, hand figure of 8, lotus hands.
  • Hip figure of 8s: classic 8 (vertical inward figure of 8), maya (vertical figure of 8 in reverse) and flat figure of 8.
  • Hip circles: small (omi), medium and large

For the above movements, there is an extensive part where Michelle explains how to do each movement in details, followed by a drills section with music and a lot of repetitions.

After students have mastered the basic movements, they can start learning some combinations, which are:

  • Sharp hips combination.
  • Body waves.
  • Figure of 8 combination.
  • Hip circles.

For each of these combinations, Michelle first explains them bit by bit and then there are two practice sessions, one slow and one fast.

Advised level

This instructional bellydance DVD is advisable for beginners (although a complete beginner should always also join a class) and improvers. More advanced belly dancers though, can still benefit from Belly Dance Crash Course, if they need to revise some basic technique or if they simply need some inspiration for practising drills and keep those basic belly dance movements into their muscle memory. Also, if you are starting to teach your own classes, a DVD like this can be very useful to give you ideas on how to teach a beginner level class.

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Valeria is a dance researcher completing a PhD in dance and heritage. Valeria also teaches and performs as a belly dance but also enjoys learning ballet, jazz dance and other dance genres.

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