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  1. #1
    Senior Member LadyLoba's Avatar
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    Default A specific question on classes

    I have to rely on DVDs and online instruction for now, but as soon as I can I want to enroll in a class with a teacher who is actually in the room with me, so I have been researching classes...just looking to see what would be in the different levels of belly dance classes....how much I can expect to pay...etc. And I found that quite a few places, in various cities, offer Belly Dance classes in the same studio where they teach lap dancing and pole dancing.

    What is going on here? Is this just a space issue, meaning there is one dance studio in town, or in the neighborhood, so anybody who wants to teach any form of dance has to use the same studio? (meaning somebody's belly dance class got plunked down on the class list with a pole dancing class whether they wanted it to or not)

    Or....is this a bad sign...as in....a sign of a teacher who does not take belly dance seriously?

    I know things get grouped together oddly because of space availability at times, esp if it's a small town we're talking about....but from all I've read about belly dance so far, I would think most serious teachers would fight to have their classes listed as far away from "lap dance/pole dance/stripping" type classes as possible simply because there are enough misconceptions and stereotypes and confusion between the two. I know belly dancing and pole/lap dancing are two entirely different things....but grouping them together in a studio and on a class list like I saw would tend to link the two in a person's mind if they did not study it.

    I ask because I don't want to unfairly snub a perfectly good teacher who just happened to have studio time in the same place right after the pole dancing class....but I also don't want to pay my money and then show up to something that turns out to be 2 belly dance isolations added in to burlesque dancing or pole dancing.
    Last edited by LadyLoba; 11-19-2010 at 07:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    It all depends on the teacher and location. I have taught at studios where I didn't even know what other classes were being offered. Right now, I teach at a studio that has belly dance, bhangra, yoga, pilates, burlesque, and probably more that I don't know about. Another studio that I teach at regularly has belly dance, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, aerial, modern, and a ton of other things that I don't know about specifically.

    As a dance instructor, if you do not own the studio, you don't often have any say in what other classes are being offered. If you are renting the space, it may be the only dance studio in town or the only one that is convenient for you and your students.

    I wouldn't automatically count a teacher out if she is at a studio that teaches other dance forms, but keep it in mind and take a look at the location and talk to the teacher to see if it fits your comfort level.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    It could be one or the other, or both. Personally, I would lean towards the line of thought that says a good, authentic teacher who cares about and respects the art form would not teach at a location where an association could be made between belly dance and pole dance, and especially not lap dance.

    And I say this as someone who respects pole dancing. I hope this does not turn into a pole dance bashing thread. Pole dance is a great workout, and there are many people who take pole dancing lessons for the same reasons we take belly dance (for a workout, for fun, for female bonding).

    With that said, most people think pole dance is just for strippers and only see the sexual aspect of it. Because of this, I think it is best not to make the association in people's minds, and I think most authentic teachers (as opposed to belly bunny teachers who have taken a few lessons and decided they knew it all) would agree.

    However, I am sure there could be exceptions. Most of the teachers I've taken lessons from so far rent out a night at a "regular" dance studio that is unrelated to belly dance to teach their lessons. Usually it's the typical "ballet/tap/jazz" studio for kids and teens by day, or it's a yoga studio, or latin dance... if for whatever reason the only place my teacher could find to rent for her class happened to be a studio that also taught pole dance, I personally wouldn't have a problem with it (actually, I'd be quite happy--I'd love to take pole dance classes, they would make me so strong!). It is something that should be avoided because of the perceptions other people have, but I myself would rather not make any assumptions based solely on that fact.

  4. #4
    Member Pleasant dancer's Avatar
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    I agree, most studios rent out space to whoever wants it, and sometimes it really hard to find a good, clean, suitable equipped studio at a reasonable rent (plus available at the times you want) so belly dance teachers can find themselves teaching alongside all sorts of different dance styles and fitness regimes.

    I think the best way to find out if a teacher is likely to be what you want is to go along for a taster session before you commit, and with 2-3 teachers (if you are lucky enough to have them locally). Most good teachers will be happy to have you for a trial session I believe. Everyone has different needs with regard to a teacher and you can only know by giving them a try and not take too much notice of who else rents space in the studio - these things can be quite arbitrary.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyLoba View Post
    I would think most serious teachers would fight to have their classes listed as far away from "lap dance/pole dance/stripping" type classes as possible simply because there are enough misconceptions and stereotypes and confusion between the two.
    I share your thought.

    I've had some very bad press relating to another group who teaches at a shop that also sells porn and adult toys. At that time, if you went to the website of the class location, you could see, on the home page, a picture (from some dvd) of a woman fellating a man.

    This is not something that I would EVER want associated with the dance I love so much.

    I'm all for porn. And I'm all for low-fat cooking classes. But NEITHER of them needs to be associated with Middle Eastern dance. We have enough problems of our own to deal with.

    This is NOT 100% agreed-upon though, in the dance world. Many communities have no trouble accepting pole dance and belly dance in the same studio. I think it would just have to be weighed against your community standards. Here in my cornfield it is NOT acceptable to my students and clients.

    Good fences make good neighbors. Pole and Belly should be on opposite sides of that fence, imo.

    Dance studios that cater to ballet classes usually have elevated, cushioned floors. I know I NEED that. When I practice for my than an hour on concrete floors, my legs and feet kill me. I will always teach at a ballet studio, if only for the special flooring.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 11-20-2010 at 09:45 AM. Reason: merge

  6. #6
    Senior Member LadyLoba's Avatar
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    Default Agreeing with Aziyade...

    ...I don't have a problem with it if people want to visit porn shops and shops that sell "adult toys."

    But I wouldn't want to see that linkedtup with belly dance. But like she said....it's not because it's "bad" and belly dance is "good." Low fat cooking classes (and quilting and learning Spanish and French and memoir writing) also have nothing to do with belly dance...so that wouldn't belong together either.

    ...and I hope this doesn't become an anti-pole dancing or lap dancing thread too...neither of those are personal likes of mine, but I don't look down on anyone who does them. Ballet is also not a personal like of mine, nor is opera or classical music. Again, I'm not saying one is "bad" and one is "good"...it was just a concern of mine because the two are so often erroneously linked, and I know a lot of professionals in belly dance work so hard to change that.

    And because sometimes, when anything is used as a part of "feel...however" program, in this case "feel sexy"...sometimes the individual things being taught are not taught terribly well.

    I hope I get to be looking into each studio in an area soon

  7. #7
    Member Bellydance Oz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyLoba View Post
    I found that quite a few places, in various cities, offer Belly Dance classes in the same studio where they teach lap dancing and pole dancing.

    What is going on here? Is this just a space issue, meaning there is one dance studio in town, or in the neighborhood,
    As others have said, it's unlikely to be the only dance studio in town, but it may be the only one with time slots available. Most dance teachers have to take space where they can find it.

    Quote Originally Posted by LadyLoba View Post
    Or....is this a bad sign...as in....a sign of a teacher who does not take belly dance seriously?
    It could be, but there are two other options - (a) that it's a belly dance teacher who's pragmatic about making a living or (b) that it's a belly dance teacher who's part of that sub-culture and sees nothing wrong with it.

    In both cases, there's no reason to suppose they're not good at belly dancing and keep the different genres separate when teaching.

    Belly dancers find learning lap dancing, burlesque or Brazilian samba very easy - so if a belly dancer needs to earn extra income, they're obvious extra strings to pick up.

    Also, especially in Tribal, there are quite a number of belly dancers who do both belly dance and burlesque, separately and in fusion. My personal opinion is that it's an awful idea - like it or not, burlesque is striptease, even if you emphasise the tease rather than the strip, and associating it with belly dance is going backwards. But I know several respectable, and respected, belly dancers who disagree with me!

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Would I teach in a Pole Dance space? Only if there really wasn't any other choice - and there is usually plenty of other options. Not because I assume all pole dancers are in the sex industry or that sex workers are bad women but simply because the sexy-belly-dancer-doing-it-for-a-man stereotype is one I do not want to encourage - and, like it or not, teaching with pole dancers will link the two together.

    It is possible that the teacher couldn't find another space or thought it would be a good gimmack - and is actually a good belly dance teacher. Or she could be a 6-week wonder herself who thinks its all about squirming around and panting while doing the occasional hip drop.

    Why not interview her? Ask, for instance:
    • who did she learn belly dance from? (and if possible check her teachers were belly dancers - I have met "belly dance" teachers who have plenty of other dance training but not belly dance specific)
    • how long did she study? (not 100% way of spotting bad teachers - but you are looking for someone with, say, at least 5 years experience)
    • when was the last workshop she attended as a student (you'd expect at least one serious workshop a year)
    • has she any training in teaching? (a paper qualification would be nice but at least some serious study, more than a weekend, in anatomy & kinesiology and teaching methods would be useful)
    • what cultural information does she have? (for instance does she know any Arabic (or Turkish); does she know any folk styles; can she guide you on ethnic costuming)


    If you can tick most of these - I suspect you can ignore her choice of teaching venue.

    Finally, though, is she a good match for you? I sometimes work with one fantastic teacher who sets my teach on edge. I go because I learn heaps - if this had been my first teacher though I probably would have given up after day two.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    I like Kashmir's advice.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    [*]how long did she study? (not 100% way of spotting bad teachers - but you are looking for someone with, say, at least 5 years experience)

    How long did she study BELLY DANCE, not karate or ballet or ballroom dance. I've seen people drastically pad their resumes by saying they were dancing since they were 3. Well, yeah -- a lot of us took "baby ballet" classes.

    Unless you had the background of Suhaila or Ansuya or somebody like that, it's doubtful you were BELLYDANCING since you were 3, ya know?

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