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  1. #11
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    Let me ask a different question then: is there any good (lol) way to figure out whether a teacher is a professional before I lay down my money? Are there any questions to ask without making it sound like an interrogation? Or should I just take a drop in class and that would be enough for me to figure out whether I want to stay or not?

  2. #12
    Member Jujube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stepbystep View Post
    Let me ask a different question then: is there any good (lol) way to figure out whether a teacher is a professional before I lay down my money? Are there any questions to ask without making it sound like an interrogation? Or should I just take a drop in class and that would be enough for me to figure out whether I want to stay or not?
    Hmm, thinking as I type here.....I would ask these questions.

    How long have you studied bellydance?
    How long have you been teaching?
    What is your dance style?
    Do you have particular props that you like to teach?
    Do you or have you danced professionally? What kind of gigs?
    Who are your influences?

    I would ask these questions as well as taking a trial class with the person. That way you can try to gauge her expertise as well as see if you like her personality and teaching style.

  3. #13
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stepbystep View Post
    Let me ask a different question then: is there any good (lol) way to figure out whether a teacher is a professional before I lay down my money? Are there any questions to ask without making it sound like an interrogation? Or should I just take a drop in class and that would be enough for me to figure out whether I want to stay or not?
    A good teacher usually won't mind the questions - it is part of the job to be able to answer questions about your style and qualifications for students. As this dance doesn't currently have a governing body, you will want to ask about years dancing, years teaching, styles, and anything that interests you and also drop in to try a class to see if the instructor is a good fit for you.

    Here are a few articles on the web on how to choose a teacher:

    How to Choose a Belly Dance Teacher | eHow.com
    How To Choose A Belly Dance Teacher
    How to Belly Dance
    How to Choose (or Lose) a Belly Dance Instructor - Shasta Daisy McCarty
    How To Find A Belly Dancing Class In Your Community
    How to Find a Belly Dance Teacher | eHow.com
    How to find a belly dancing instructor - by Kaarina St. John - Helium

    If you need a list of instructors, Shira's site has a good list: Find Belly Dancing Teachers and Performers all Over the World! Belly Dancing Lessons and Dancers! Search for Belly Dancers!

  4. #14
    Member Miranda Phoenix's Avatar
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    When I look for a teacher I ask all the questions that've already been listed, but the biggest ones, for me, is what style they teach and how long have they been dancing.

    If the instructor answers with a little of this and a little of that - I don't bother asking anything further. If SHE doesn't know what she's teaching, how well can she possibly be teaching it?

    And if she's been dancing less than five years, it's unlikely - unless she devoted most of her time toward the art - that she knows any dance style with enough true depth to REALLY be teaching it (this goes back to the aforementioned connection between the music, the dancer and the moves).

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jujube View Post
    Hmm, thinking as I type here.....I would ask these questions.

    How long have you studied bellydance?
    How long have you been teaching?
    What is your dance style?
    Do you have particular props that you like to teach?
    Do you or have you danced professionally? What kind of gigs?
    Who are your influences?

    I would ask these questions as well as taking a trial class with the person. That way you can try to gauge her expertise as well as see if you like her personality and teaching style.
    I've said it more than once, and I'll say it again. most of the above questions are not relevant in many cases. You could tick all those boxes and still not be a good teacher. So with all due respect, standing there and bombarding a teacher with that lot proves nothing. No, a teacher does not mind being asked questions if they are relevant to her teaching. The only one in that lot that could possibly provide some useful info, is, 'What style do you teach?'

    All the others are neither here nor there. What is relevant is how well she dances and how well she teaches and the only way your gonna find that out, is by attending her class. She could be shit hot after only a very short time and with very little experience under her belt. She could be dire with a lifetime of experience working as a pro dancer, having studied it for years.

    Luck of the draw. Anybody truly serious about learning this dance, will not stop at one teacher anyway, but go to several until they find the right one for them, or are able to draw what they want and need from each source.

    Don't ask...do. You can ask all those questions til the cows come home, receive the answers to the positive to all of them, and still find yourself with someone who can't teach this dance.

  6. #16
    Member Jujube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharis View Post
    I've said it more than once, and I'll say it again. most of the above questions are not relevant in many cases. You could tick all those boxes and still not be a good teacher. So with all due respect, standing there and bombarding a teacher with that lot proves nothing. No, a teacher does not mind being asked questions if they are relevant to her teaching. The only one in that lot that could possibly provide some useful info, is, 'What style do you teach?'

    All the others are neither here nor there. What is relevant is how well she dances and how well she teaches and the only way your gonna find that out, is by attending her class. She could be shit hot after only a very short time and with very little experience under her belt. She could be dire with a lifetime of experience working as a pro dancer, having studied it for years.

    Luck of the draw. Anybody truly serious about learning this dance, will not stop at one teacher anyway, but go to several until they find the right one for them, or are able to draw what they want and need from each source.

    Don't ask...do. You can ask all those questions til the cows come home, receive the answers to the positive to all of them, and still find yourself with someone who can't teach this dance.
    My judgment is more on the teacher's responsiveness than the answers themselves. If she hems and haws, can't define a style, and seems thrown by the questions, chances are she's a hack. We all know that some beginners go out there and begin bellydance classes without knowing that they're learning from someone who has very limited exposure to the dance herself. Not only might a student throw away good money, waste time, and have to unlearn bad habits, but she could hurt herself with poor posture.

    Of course, taking a class is the best way for someone who knows something about the dance to see what a teacher has to offer. But a fresh beginner might want to be a bit more cautious because she won't have the same ability to be critical as someone with some experience.

    JMO

  7. #17
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharis View Post
    She could be shit hot after only a very short time and with very little experience under her belt. She could be dire with a lifetime of experience working as a pro dancer, having studied it for years.

    Luck of the draw. Anybody truly serious about learning this dance, will not stop at one teacher anyway, but go to several until they find the right one for them, or are able to draw what they want and need from each source.
    This is true, but, at the same time, a beginner in the form may not be able to tell immediately if the teacher is a good dancer or a good instructor. In that case, things like # years teaching/dancing can give the student a place to start. Many students who start with a less qualified teacher don't realize it until after they have already spent time and money learning bad habits that then have to be unlearned. Number of years in the field does not equal automatic talent and skill, but it is a fair starting point for students to ask - just like in hiring an employee the years and skill may not match, but it is still a standard and useful thing to know.

  8. #18
    Member Afrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharis View Post
    I've said it more than once, and I'll say it again. most of the above questions are not relevant in many cases. You could tick all those boxes and still not be a good teacher. So with all due respect, standing there and bombarding a teacher with that lot proves nothing. No, a teacher does not mind being asked questions if they are relevant to her teaching. The only one in that lot that could possibly provide some useful info, is, 'What style do you teach?'
    Although it is true you can tick the boxes and still be a poor teacher, it is even more likely the other way around. That is, if the teacher has studied for only a short time and no longer attends workshops/classes s/he is less likely to be a good teacher.

    I would also be interested in how s/he learnt to teach. Is this a dancer who just decided there is money in teaching or is this someone who has put time and effort into learning how to teach as well as how to dance?

    Incidentally, a good professional dancer is often not a good teacher - especially for beginners (more advanced dancers can more easily pick out what a good dancer has).

  9. #19
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    Ask SPECIFICALLY how many years she has been studying BELLY DANCE.

    I see a lot of crappy 6-week wonders try to pass off "years of ballet and jazz" experience as experience with MEDance. So what if you danced with a regional ballet company for 11 years. It isn't THIS dance. If the teacher is hesitant to say how long she/he has been studying THIS dance, be suspicious.

    Also, pay attention to who they credit as important influences or who their teachers are. You can look up those teachers and see what kind of dancing that person likes and has experience with.

    A teacher who has studied with or credits as major influences on her style Rachel Brice, Zoe, Sharon, and Carolena is likely to teach a much different kind of class than the teacher who credits Shareen el Safy, Faten Salama, Fifi Abdo, and Sahra Kent. Or the teacher who credits Sema Yildiz, Ozel Turkbas, and Tayyar Akdeniz.

    Also be wary of someone who lists as their education a bunch of workshop they've been to. We've ALL been to workshops. It's a social thing as much as an educational one. If the person mentions completion of a series, like Suhaila level 4, or Hadia's professional training, or Sahra's Journey to Egypt, that's different.

    I see a lot of what I consider unqualified teachers who list workshops they've attended as evidence of their "training." I have an issue with that. You don't "train" with someone by going to one of her workshops. If that instructor KNOWS YOUR NAME (or at least recognizes you) then you can say you train with her. If not, you've just taken some workshops with her.

    Video says it best -- if the instructor has video on line, check it out. If you want to dance like that, take her class. (But not all of us have video online -- I'm working on it but I have very very little on tape. Just because she doesn't have a web video presence doesn't mean she's not a great teacher. Morocco only just last year posted a vid of herself and she's been teaching since the earth cooled.

  10. #20
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    thank you all for the information (especially Aziyade), I am very glad that this posting drew attention. I am beginning to tell the styles apart, and I guess I would just have to dive in and see what happens. The area I am in actually has a few teachers who have videos and credentials on their websites listed, and appear very confident in what they do.

    Just recognized that the Turkish style includes a whole lot of moving about, lol! But I like the Roma influence in it.

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