year unknown, $2.99, at Goodwill Superstore on San Fernando

First Impression: Belly dancing will make your armpits so sleek and toned!

Second Impression: Use the weight of coins to add resistance for even more gains!

This DVD was filmed in Utah, and gives the general impression that everyone involved did the very best they could.  The belly dancing is taught in a corner of an actual, working gymnatorium, not a set dressed to look this way. I can almost smell the layers of B.O. that inevitably linger in even the most well-kept fitness facilities.

The instructor, Melissa, demonstrates belly dancing in bare feet. This is not unusual, but I’m very conscious of the gray, industrial carpet that she is standing on, and the funk of forty thousand years that is inevitably ground into said carpet.  Occasionally, the camera shows us a glimpse of the tape marks on the floor that the teacher must stay within.

Behind her are two large windows that have been covered up with blue paper. Not big sheets of paper, but craft-sized rectangles of paper. In closeups, I can spot shiny bits of Scotch tape that have been used to piece them together. This makes me happier than it should.

Melissa leads us through a few basic belly dancing moves, occasionally darting her eyes to her right to look at her notes. She doesn’t offer a lot in the way of explanation. She then calls in a friend to help demonstrate the moves as she puts them all together. Donna is late for her cue, but eventually jingles into the shot. Her diminutive frame is completely swallowed by velveteen, gauzy skirts, sparkly things, and clinky trim. That mall kiosk is going to have to back-order all its stock, because Donna bought every last item.

After the demonstration, during which Melissa and Donna sometimes use the same arm at the same time, there’s an interview with the series host. No brag, but she just had her third son, got her Master’s degree, runs her own gym, and is producing these awesome videos.  So go to the mall, buy your own coin-covered outfit, and get your life together already!

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