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.

Free Arabic Drumming Apps

I recently decided to see what belly dance related apps I could find. When you are stuck waiting for an appointment or on public transport, etc. – having a dance related app to entertain and educate can be a great use of your time.  In terms of actual dance apps, the pickings are pretty slim. Belly dancer drummingThere are several paid apps that will apparently teach you the basics of belly dance but are expensive and have bad reviews. I will do a future post on the best of those. Things fared a little better though when I looked at Arabic drumming rhythms. Knowing your rhythms is important for all serious dancers as well as drummers (I am also a drummer). In order of usefulness:-

Dumtek

I found a free and very simple app called DumTek for iphone /ipod touch/ ipad. The interface is very basic, just a list of rhythms but the basic rhythm and then fuller versions of it are included. When you click on the rhythm you see the rhythm written out with the timing. You then have the option of speeding it up or slowing it down to beat per minute (speed) you want to listen to it at. It is a small app that takes up very little space, does not rely on internet connections and is very useful. It has enough rhythms (30) that all but advanced drummers should find something to learn on it. For dancers, it is important to be familiar with all the basic rhythms, this is an easy way to hear each rhythm in isolation so it is easier to recognise in your dance music – and it costs nothing. Worth downloading although it looks to be available on apple only and not android.

Tabla – free (by fredo)

Basically an Egyptian tabla for your pocket. You can’t poc or do anything too fancy on the free version for apple but you can tap out basic rhythms with a Dum and 2 kinds of Tek. A little dancer with big hip movements accompanies some of it and prompts you every so often to buy the full version that includes finger cymbals and roll sounds and slaps. The android version is free for the full program but you get ads and can’t change around where the sounds are on the drum (at least I couldn’t find a way to do it like you can on the apple version). It also seems to lag more than the apple one meaning you can only play very slow rhythms, the apple version was faster. Not really of use for a dancer as the dancer is very small and does basic moves but can be a bit of a novelty for a drummer, better on apple.

Rhythm Trek Lite

This is the free version of Australian Drummer Matt Stonehouse’s drumming app – I didn’t realise this when I downloaded it.  I want to say something good about it as I have actually had a lesson from Matt before and he seems like a great guy and is a fantastic drummer but… despite reading the instructions several times over – I found it difficult to get the app to do what I wanted. I am not sure how Matt riding a camel fits in with it all. I managed to get a base rhythm to play and to introduce a riq sound. You have the option to muck around with 4 bars of music which could be good to make up your own sounds but without already knowing the full rhythms it could be pretty boring and limited. I guess if you are good at making stuff up it will sound alright. The pirate ship kept sailed off to difficult places to find and the screen was slow to respond when you tried to scroll to another part of the map to find it. When I have another 10mins spare, I will try again, it is probably good when you work it out……

I tried it with my ipad and while it would play, its screen size is suitable for an iphone or ipod touch, perhaps the android version works better? Still it’s free so if you want to put together a short piece of basic Middle Eastern music then give it a go. The full version has more options but its ease of use that I find a bit of a worry. It is definitely the most original approach to Arabic rhythm lessons.

Riqq (Lite)

On android it is just Riqq and the full app is free, on the apple platform it is Riqq Lite for the free version. Same as “Tabla” above only it’s an Egyptian Tambourine instead of hand drum. Same issues with lag and options with the android version. Is it just me or have they got the rim and middle sounds mixed up? The dom is on the edge on a riqq I thought???

DumTek Darbuka

Android only, not on apple that I could find. Same concept but it’s the Turkish looking instrument. Found it was also not fast to respond on my Samsung galaxy phone. There is another page that makes it better to use – you have to click the option page then ‘other page’. This will bring up a page of little drum heads each with a different sound- 24 in all. Too slow to really jam with but a good variety of sounds to play with.

Percussion Drums

Choice of Maracas, tambourine or doumbek with other instruments apparently soon to come. Also free and on android not apple. A waste of time though. I could only get it to make sounds on coloured squares with a variety of percussion noises. You didn’t know which was which though and it failed to make a single sound on any of the instruments when selected individually – so who cares if more are to come. Big Raspberry. Update – after 4 attempts and much waiting I got a sound for the doumbek – just a dum and a tek both tinny. Lucky it’s free.

Tom Tom Darbuka

Glitchy, android app. Choice of 10 sounds you play on generic looking tambourines – not Arabic looking at all. Sounds are clipped and poorly recorded. “Tabla” is way better.

 I would probably only bother with the first 3 apps. One of the apps I downloaded seemed to allow a whole heap of unwanted stuff to download onto my phone. I suspect it was tom tom darbuka.

Do you have any apps you would recommend dancers or drummers?

Please comment below or email me at jadebellydance@hotmail.com

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