Free and Affordable Belly Dance Apps – Review

Previously I posted a review on Arabic drumming apps – this one deals with what apps I could find that deal with our beloved dance. I tried multiple searches on both Android and Apple platforms using terms like Oriental dance, Belly dance, Middle Eastern dance, raqs sharqi, specific dancers names and even a few foreign terms like danza orientale.  What I found was pretty eclectic.

Dance with Kamila

Free app on ipodtouch/ iphone/ and plays at a small size on ipad.

I found this one when I typed in oriental dance. It is a pretty big app at 21.3mb. It’s slick looking and gives you the option of watching a short clip of Kamilla dance either Salsa, Rhumba, Samba, Cha Cha, Modern, Hip Hop or Oriental. This app works without internet connection so you can watch it anywhere.

As she doesn’t own the music rights though, all dancing is in complete silence. It is well filmed with a very clear picture but it’s a bit weird watching the silent film. She is an attractive young blonde and I think this is probably this apps main audience – a bit of a perv. Her oriental is OK, I find her hand movements clunky and a bit unattractive and she dances very high on her toes which is not a preference I like. Her hip hop – well she seemed to make a mistake and start laughing. I am not an expert in these other styles of dance but it looks to me that Kamilla is an attractive and competent dancer but more of a ‘jack of all trades – master of none’ type (which is perfectly acceptable). I think it is mostly a clever electronic business card for Kamilla and the biggest use of it for belly dancers is to consider doing one yourself for promotion.

Dance Man (lite)

Free on app on ipodtouch/ iphone/  ipad and Android

I found this app years ago and it makes me giggle. It is a soldier in his full camo combat uniform dancing. The lite version (ie free) doesn’t have as many moves but is still worth a look. He dances hip hop, belly, swing, samba and rookie. You can change between set songs, change the tempo and change his dance style. The “belly” is tribal style dancing and there are only 2 combinations that he can perform in the ‘belly’ style but they are good and look ridiculous on him. The rookie moves are hilarious too. The full version gives you more combinations and usability – unfortunately it is not easy to get these days. The new version is called “Dance man Obama” and features a bobble headed Obama dancing in the oval office. Not nearly as funny for belly dancers though because you can’t see his hip moves. See if you can find the original soldier version if you like the sound of it.

Andalee

– student practice companion app for ipod touch, iphone & ipad

This app was not free – it is available for $1.99US from the itunes store

I decided to pay as it was quite cheap and I knew Andalee was a good dancer. I enjoyed watching her on Project Belly Dance season 1, (Season 2 is on now – it’s a reality type show for belly dancers). As it is a paid app you don’t have to put up with ads, which is pleasant. On the downside it is completely useless without a steady internet connection – all you can get is Andalee’s contact details.

With a good connection however you can access the video section. It is divided into 3 levels of moves and the instruction is pretty thorough for each move. Each video is around 5 minutes in length.

Beginning moves – Introduction Talk, Arm Pathways, Tilting Hip Isolations and Circles (which means 4 point hip locks and an omi), Chest Isolations and Circles, Sliding Hip Isolations and Circles (hip slides and hip circles)

Intermediate moves – (which she has mistakenly spelt as ‘Intermidiate’-opps!!)

Hip Drop (Egyptian hip drop or Hip drop kick)- this move finishes at about 3:30 but continues with a black screen and rhythm for a further minute and a half!!,  Basic Egyptian (Step touch) – the  sound changed a bit on this clip and I had to reload it a number of times to get it to play properly, Scooping Figure 8’s (vertical fig 8’s) -this move also finishes at about 3:30 but has the black screen and rhythm for a minute and a half, Shimmy (Shoulder shimmy and 2 types of hip shimmy)

Advanced moves – the ¾ shimmy, snake arms, back rock step (Double hip bumps moving backward), Camel.

I think this would be a great app to purchase if you were a beginner belly dance student frequently in good wifi range. Of course, YouTube has a multitude of how to belly dance videos available for free that you can access when you have a good connection too, but this is a quick way to get a nice progression from a respected teacher.

Unfortunately it is not of much use for an advanced student despite the advanced category. Of the moves classed advanced, I personally would only class the ¾ shimmy as advanced. Seriously, snake arms as advanced???? I think they are included in almost every beginner belly dance DVD I have ever seen. I expected layered movements or short combinations to be under the advanced category.

It has some value to new teachers or those teachers looking for new ways to describe moves that they may have difficulty breaking down, as Andalee has a lovely teaching manner and her descriptions are clear. It could also be useful to American dancers in that quite a few interesting up and coming events are listed in her event section.

Hot Belly Dancers

Free app on ipodtouch/ iphone/  ipad and many similar available on Android such as ‘Belly Dance Vid’

Don’t download this crap. It’s a list of youtube clips of varying quality that the idiot that put this app together found sexual appealing.

Danza Orientale

Free on app on ipodtouch/ iphone

Huge app at 386mb and all in Italian. Works without internet connection – I think. I can only suppose because I couldn’t get it to play at all on my iPod touch which is pretty disappointing as it took so long to download. Because of file size I am guessing that it contains a lot of video instruction. The screen shots provided on the iTunes store looked promising for this app to be a serious student helper like Andalee’s app but I just can’t say for sure as it isn’t working for me. It could be worth trying out for yourself if you speak Italian or are non Italian speakers but primarily learn visually.

Tap Belly

$1.99US app on ipodtouch/ iphone

The only belly dance game I found so I decided to pay and see what it was like – at 213mb I had high hopes. Surely if I both paid for it and it took so long to download it would be worth it???

‘Hello, I’m Azra, are you ready to play with me? We are going to have great time together’. Seriously, I did not have to continue past this point to know what kind of game it was but I have tortured myself for you dear readers! The game mechanics are simple, you have to tap the screen or shake the ipod (or iphone) . It’s pretty silly. She dances with a lovely backdrop behind her in a fairly skimpy red outfit and breathily say ‘wow you’re great’ at the end of the first level. You hit drums when little dots go by; unfortunately it’s not tapping out the rhythms but seems to be pretty random. I tried only tapping when the dots appeared but it didn’t work very well so I just repetitively hit both sides over and over to get to the end of the level.  Then you have to do the ‘bonus level’ which means shake the ipod while the dancer shimmies – you can’t see her shimmy though if you shake it so it seem pointless. Next comes level 2 much the same as level one only my screen started to strobe, my fingers were in agony by the end of this level. The next bonus was a faulty close up of her chest as she shoulder shimmied – I think by now you are getting the picture of who this game is marketed for and it’s not dancers!!! It’s hard to comment on the dancing as I had to partially concentrate on hitting those damn drums but it seemed ok. Overall a boring game aimed at mild titillation. There are many better free games out there to waste your time on; they just don’t have a belly dance theme.

A word of warning when searching for belly dance apps- I downloaded a number of free belly dance related apps that caused all sorts of problems; from downloading unauthorised apps onto my phone to all sorts of annoying advertising. The problem was worse with Android apps than with Apple ones and I had to delete most of the Android ones almost immediately to stop the problems. As a brief guide line do not download anything with the words ’cute’,  ‘erotic’ or ‘hot girls’ in them – even if the rest of the description talks about beautiful performances by the world’s best belly dancers. The apps are just YouTube playlists and photos stolen off the internet of anyone the developers had fantasies about and the primary goal of them is not to promote belly dance but to send you spam.

If you want better quality then you have to pay for it, unfortunately even then it doesn’t guarantee it will be worth your while. DVD’s are pretty cheap these days and are far more comprehensive and better value for dollar than most apps will ever be. If you want online content then RaqsTV and YouTube are pretty easy to access too. Really think about if you are going to try and learn those moves while travelling about before you purchase apps that you may never need or use.

Have you downloaded any really great belly dance related apps? Please comment below or email me at jadebellydance@hotmail.com and share your thoughts.

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