2003, $1.00, at Goodwill Superstore on San Fernando

First Impression: Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

Second Impression: Can’t you just hear the piano?

The back cover of the DVD serenades us with a poem: Get your workout for the day as Hip Hop music takes you away. See your weight drop as you Hip Drop!

I’m not entirely convinced that belly dancing leads to weight loss, but this DVD is keen to set the record straight. “Bellydance,” the DVD cover insists, “stimulates the digestive system, thereby increasing the metabolism.” Well, that’s science for you.

I can only describe the intro for this workout as… awkward. We fade up on a cluster of women, in silhouette with their arms out at odd angles to represent the many-armed goddess.

We hold on this position for a very long time. When the lights fade up, they scuttle sideways across the soundstage as would a crab. This cues our host Rania to move towards the camera and demonstrate how long she can go without blinking.

Rania and her helpers are dressed in identical black turtleneck crop-tops, their hips wrapped in gold chains to represent our society’s enslavement, in the thrall of material things. Or maybe it’s just because it’s fun to make them jingle when you shake your hips around. Either way, I’m distracted by the pattern on the walls behind them. They are evidently belly dancing inside a petri-dish.

Well, that’s science for you.

I know I sound all snarky, but let me take a minute to reassure you that this is the best belly dancing instruction video I’ve ever tried. Rania and friends show us a combination, then repeat it. Then we learn another piece of choreography, then go back to the beginning. And so it goes. Nothing fancy, just a tried-and true teaching technique. Well, that’s science for you.

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