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  1. #11
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    i have to say that unless you have access to a very structured class structure, with lots of levels, most people need at least 2 years at beginner level. If you have never been taught before, also you would need to familiarise yourself with the way your teacher teaches - and you may well have some correction to do on the way you move. then you need to learn the teacher's terminology - which may also slow you down - to go into intermediates, you need to be able to follow and pick up without stopping to work out what was meant.

    also very important is learning to dance oin a group. In a class, you will not only drill in lines and circles, you will probably learn group choreos and you need to be aware of the space around you and other people. When I was a new dancer and thought a lot of myself - I was told that i needed to learn how to fit my steps into everyone else's as my movements were too big which made practising in a circle difficult.

    for these reasons (among others) it is best to start with a beginner class. i myself have bee learning for almost 5 years and attend one intermediate class and one absolute beginners (this one is my favourite).

  2. #12
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    See, this is what confuses me.

    According to the list Aziyade put up, I'm early intermediate. The only ting is I've never performed. Ever. I get dressed up and dance, but that doesn't count LOL! But I already have some of those "Upper intermediate" bits too.

    Such as:

    1. * Dance aesthetic becomes even more finely honed; the music dictates the dance to you according to this aesthetic.
    2. * You are able to pick out costumes that are flattering in style and color to your body type and appropriate for particular dance styles.
    3. * Make your own choreographies and improvisational dances.


    The thing is that even though I started training last May, I spent soooo much time learning belly dance. And yes, I do keep a rigid training schedule. For the first several months, I practiced five days a week combining drills with dancing for roughly an hour with small three minute breaks. I used this free online belly dance course at first, then started learning other moves independently with other sources such as ehow. (I studied moves in three different stylings... Egyptian, Tribal and American Cabaret, and the results I've gotten when I improv is very gypsyish.)

    I used belly dance as my fitness program, you know? Drills worked muscles and dancing did my cardio. I was a happy camper. Now I drill two days a week and dance three days a week. I actually dance every day, but those other days I just noodle - dance to whatever's on the radio or ipod while I do housework haha.

    And what counts as mastering a move? Proper execution? Able to transition the well executed move into a dance/improv without hitching? When does floor work and bends come in because I already do those (though my floor work needs more work). I get confused sometimes to the point that I give up trying to figure out where I am (what level) on my own, you know?

  3. #13
    Member Nailah_Siti's Avatar
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    I think for us newbies its a good idea to start as a beginner with any new teacher at least to learn the teacher's teaching style. I am also starting at beginner with my new teacher because I am learning a different style, so although the moves may be similar they are not the same. It never hurts to have a more solid foundation of basic movement. Plus, because you haven't received feedback on how you're doing for almost a year it could do wonders for your confidence if you see how you are doing in a room full of women in the mirror. You could always take a private class if you feel like you aren't getting enough from it :-) just my newbie opinion

  4. #14
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenc View Post
    i have to say that unless you have access to a very structured class structure, with lots of levels, most people need at least 2 years at beginner level. If you have never been taught before, also you would need to familiarise yourself with the way your teacher teaches - and you may well have some correction to do on the way you move. then you need to learn the teacher's terminology - which may also slow you down - to go into intermediates, you need to be able to follow and pick up without stopping to work out what was meant.

    [...]

    for these reasons (among others) it is best to start with a beginner class. i myself have bee learning for almost 5 years and attend one intermediate class and one absolute beginners (this one is my favourite).
    I'm going to have to disagree with some of this. I really don't think you can make that kind of generalization, about most people needing at least 2 years of beginner level. The amount of time any individual should spend in a beginner level class will depend on a multitude of factors.

    It will depend on the structure of the teacher's level system, on how good the teacher is at teaching, on how much effort the student puts into dance in and out of class, how much the student practices, how much the student watches other dancers outside of class, prior dance and movement experience the student may have had, medical conditions, natural talent, age, etc.

    It's possible to encounter people who have been belly dancing for 10 years who are still beginners as well as people who have been belly dancing for less than a year who are well beyond beginner level. Sure, most people will fall somewhere beyond these two extremes, but because of how many factors come into play I like to be REALLY careful about putting a timeline into people's progress. On one hand, it could keep very talented students from wanting to advance for fear of doing it too early, and on the other hand it can give long-time students a sense of entitlement and advancement when really their skill level is still very low despite how long they have been dancing.


    With those things being said, I do think it's a good idea to start with a beginners class when starting classes with a new teacher. There are a few teachers out there that I would absolutely want to start as a beginner, to catch every little detail they have to teach and understand their basic technique, even though most teachers would consider me an advanced dancer in most respects.

    With other teachers, though, I can jump right into their advanced classes because they don't pay as much attention to stylistic differences and I am not looking to master their particular style. So this is also something that I think should be treated on a case by case basis.

    But I could totally understand teachers requiring a new student to come to at least one beginner class to find out what's the best match for them. If I was a teacher, I would absolutely do this. There are tons of students out there who think they are advanced when they don't have any of the basics down yet, and there are dancers who are advanced in one style but have a lot to learn in others. I wouldn't want a student to be in the completely wrong class, because I would want my students to get the most out of my classes.

    However, keeping *all* new students in a beginners class for one or more full sessions regardless of their prior experience with other teachers and how beneath them the class is, I think is just a waste of money for the student. I wouldn't want to waste my time and money in a class that is not challenging me.
    Last edited by Yame; 03-04-2011 at 05:40 PM.

  5. #15
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    I am still attending a beginner's class after 4 and a half years. this is partly because there isn't much else out there but also because I lkie the style of this particular teacher.

    I said that most people require 2 years becvuse I see a lot of people who have danced for more than a year who stillhave problems with certain moves. now this may be because with the need to keep "beginner" classes interesting enough for more advanced students, the absolute basic may be a little rushed.

    The rest of my post about needing to learn how to take classes and fit into a group is still relevant

  6. #16
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nailah Siti
    I think for us newbies its a good idea to start as a beginner with any new teacher at least to learn the teacher's teaching style.
    Yes! I am going to try and give you some reputation points for that one!!

    Levels vary with different teachers, but the advice above is a good one. Let me give a little example. I consider myself very lucky with my teachers from the start and thus I am used to very high standard of classes (in terms of lots of work on solid technique, proper posture and correct use of the body, musical interpretation and very thorough explanation). I get bored easily in many other classes and have found only a few teachers who live up to the 'standard' of teaching I am used to getting. I've seen many students from surrounding areas on the other hand, who have been dancing for various periods of time and who are 'advanced' or even 'highly advanced'/pro (don't know how to translate the former) at their school, end up in beginners level 3 or early intermediates with us as they cannot seem to keep up in 'advanced'. We have 3 levels of "beginner" classes, various intermediate levels and an advanced/continuing class. Though performance skills and stage presence/presentation are part of classes at a higher level, there is a showteam for the highly ambitious dancers, and students who want to perform can be coached on their way, which works very well.

    Students who move faster than our 'set' levels are able to move up in agreement with the teachers, or often take multiple classes to see what fits and move up later. I find this is a very effective method. As a teacher, I try to use the same methods because this, in my own experience, works.

    As a student, I find myself starting in one of the upper beginner level classes with every new teacher to get to know the style and level of the teacher, and very importantly: for the teacher to get to know me. Elfie, I'd say try out beginners and talk to the teacher after the first class. There's nothing like a live teacher and it never does hurt to review the basics, and this way you also get to know how the teacher works when explaining, correcting (!), etc.

    Talking to the teacher after she has watched you dance will give you valuable information to review. She may notice things you have not thought of, things you might have to improve on, or may notice you dance too well to be in beginners and move you up.

    Whatever you sign up for, dance your behind off, talk to the instructor and.... have fun!!

  7. #17
    Member Afrit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    I'm going to have to disagree with some of this. I really don't think you can make that kind of generalization, about most people needing at least 2 years of beginner level. The amount of time any individual should spend in a beginner level class will depend on a multitude of factors.
    True - but the other problem is people's unrealistic understanding of what "beginner" actually is. I've meet people who think because they can do and hip drop and a shoulder shimmy they are no longer "beginner". You sometimes come across those who have "learnt it all" in a few months and then go on about how limiting belly dance is - when actually they have had very limited teachers who are really beginners themselves.

  8. #18
    Senior Member goddessyasaman's Avatar
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    Yes it depends on the teacher as well as the student, some students learn at different paces When I take on a new student I ask them questions The main two are "Do you want to learn Belly dance for fun?" or "Do you want to Learn Belly dance as an Art, and Learn all you can?"

    It's important to know this when teaching at least I like to, because it may take time to learn.

    I keep my students at beginner level for at least 6 months unless I see improvement where they are ready for intermediate try out. And as I said some students could be ready before this, so it goes person to person, Advance is the same way and so on.

    I give a test to see if my student is ready.

    Now when you are self taught it's harder to say because you don't have a teacher telling you that your ready now to advance to the next level.

  9. #19
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goddessyasaman View Post
    Now when you are self taught it's harder to say because you don't have a teacher telling you that your ready now to advance to the next level.
    Yeah. That's exactly it.

  10. #20
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Some students are permanent beginners due to any number of things, including physical limitations, lack of regular practice, long periods of absence from classes, and just general disinclination to advance. That's okay as long as they are happy and accept the reality of their situation.

    Other students pick things up so quickly that it makes one's head spin. When I was 21, my teacher took me aside and told me she was bumping me up into the intermediate class after half a dozen beginning lessons. All the beginning stuff came very easily to me and I've had students who were the same way. Lack of challenge is as deadening as too much challenge, and I've bumped fairly new students up a few times myself in thirty+ years of teaching.

    Offering levels in teaching is useful mainly when a student sticks with the same teacher or school for a good length of time. Changing schools and expecting the levels to be equivalent is about useless. One teacher's advanced intermediates would collapse in tears in another's second year beginners classes. For example, Yasaman mentioned beginner classes of six months; when I was able to set my own limits (prior to working for the parks and rec dept) my beginners on average worked for eighteen months to build up muscle memory and good habits.

    Each teacher or school has particular ideas about what constitutes proper levels, and a student may have to ask a lot of questions to determine where she belongs. Ideally the teacher would help determine this, but...
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

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