Advice for producers of bellydance DVDs


New member
Over the years I've seen so many easily-avoidable mistakes made in the production and marketing of bellydance DVDs... finally I decided just to write a blog post about it, and hope that it gets spread around, so that artists and producers can avoid these problems!

Please share this widely, especially with people you know who are starting projects. And please leave comments, especially on the original post, so that it can become a resource for anyone who lands on it.


I'd like to add sound, some DVDs have very bad sound quality, like echoing, or where it sounds plain weird. Another thing that is very annoying is when there is a performance video in the DVD and there are a lot of close ups, so we can't see what the rest of the body is doing. Often a problem in performance DVDs but also in instructional DVDs where they have a choreography performed in the end.


New member
Atisheh, I wrote a long response in the comments yesterday, which got eaten when I tried to post it. To summarize what I tried to write, I think you have valid points; but, you may not be aware of why dancers who make DVDs do not seem to follow your advice.

First, your suggestions add to the cost of DVD production, and therefore the final product. All of the multiple takes, changing camera angles and set up, special editing, etc. take time, and time is money.

Second, please remember that the instructors are not in the business to make DVD's -- they are dancers whose income largely come from actual gigs, classes, or workshops. They will not make money until the DVD's sell, and then they will only make a very small percentage compared to the actual gigs, classes, or workshops. If they bake this cost into the DVD, you are less likely to buy it, and therefore they will make less money.

Third, please realize that the skills needed to support your advice are completely separate from those needed to be a good instructor. Dancers outsource DVD production as a result, which costs money.

Thus, there is great cost and little financial incentive to pursue the expensive aspects of your advice.

That said, if there is a DVD production firm you really like, and an instructor you also really like who has paired up with a lousy production company, you may kindly suggest that the dancer consider working with the better DVD producer. But again, remember that the cost of traveling to said production company (which is all out of pocket for the dancer) may prevent her/him from working with that company, as s/he will not recoup that cost until after many, many, many DVD sales.


I did have a few DVDs that were made by the dancers themselves and they were pretty good for home made stuff! They even had the DVDs made on the computer and home printed labels but that didn't take away from the actual stuff that was on the DVD. It would have taken the costs down a lot for them and give them more profit. I don't mind DVDs that are made that way.


If a DVD doesn't have a good menu/chapter/section organization, I usually consider it to be useless even if the instructions themselves are ok. I don't want to spend my practice time when trying to learn something new winding forwards or backwards just to repeat the latest move/sequence and skip the parts that isn't as interesting, as I'll both loose my focus and patience and then progression when doing this too often. If comparing it to reading a book I want to go just one page back, instead of rereading the whole chapter or in worst case search through the whole book before I get back to the paragraph I wanted to read over.

One of the worst instructional DVDs I've ever seen (thank God it is no longer for sale) might have broken all the points atisheh mentions but one: It had an ok menu, but that was probably the best thing I could say about it. It was very short compared to what it was suppose to cover (49 minutes stuffed with 14 chapters of 28 basic moves plus combinations and included a chapter on how to put on your coin belt, warm-up and cool-down and a mediocre performance). Progression was fast (which isn't a problem if the instructions are clear and it is easy to jump between chapters and subsections), but the instruction was unclear, simply illogically composed and seemed to be unplanned. The instructor changed costumes way too often, more for show-off (if you can have show-offs of airport costumes) than to actually emphasize what was being taught (at one point, the new clothes actually hid the movement), and the noise of the coins on the costumes/belt was also disturbing. I found it at my local library and it was so bad I was actually ashamed that this was the only bd DVD they had at the time (you bet I recommended them a few better DVDs asap).