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  1. #1
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    Default How to make the first lesson interesting?

    Hi, I was approached to teach a beginner's belly dance class in my local village hall. I have been belly dancing for 8 years and did several years of jazz before that.

    I have been making preparations such as lessons plan, health and safety, music, warm up, cool down and choreograph ( finger crossed I've got everything covered ). The problem I am facing is ' how can I make the first lesson interesting?'


  2. #2
    Senior Member goddessyasaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Genmies View Post
    Hi, I was approached to teach a beginner's belly dance class in my local village hall. I have been belly dancing for 8 years and did several years of jazz before that.

    I have been making preparations such as lessons plan, health and safety, music, warm up, cool down and choreograph ( finger crossed I've got everything covered ). The problem I am facing is ' how can I make the first lesson interesting?'



    Very good question, When I taught my first beginner's class I had made everyone Ankle bracelets, they loved that. You could tell them something about Middle eastern dance history, this is great for them to know and it is very interesting as well. Also you yourself could do a dance for them at the begining of class to show them How belly dance moves come together with music. My students loved all of this.

    Hope this gives you an Idea, And Good luck

  3. #3
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    To break the ice, I have students choose slips of paper with middle eastern "dance names" written on them. When they are done trying to pronounce the names, we return to kindergarten, sit in a circle on the floor, and get to know each other. Each person states her name and a wish or something she has a special affection for. The QUIZ follows, in which we try to recall not only names but the wishes. It sounds silly and it is silly but by the time we're done, everyone is laughing together and we're ready to dance. Wouldn't work in a really big class, but has worked well for me for a couple of decades now.
    "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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    Super Moderator Mosaic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    To break the ice, I have students choose slips of paper with middle eastern "dance names" written on them. When they are done trying to pronounce the names, we return to kindergarten, sit in a circle on the floor, and get to know each other. Each person states her name and a wish or something she has a special affection for. The QUIZ follows, in which we try to recall not only names but the wishes. It sounds silly and it is silly but by the time we're done, everyone is laughing together and we're ready to dance. Wouldn't work in a really big class, but has worked well for me for a couple of decades now.
    Sounds like great fun - Must remember that for my next beginners class I'll add your name to the list and see if they can pick the non-ME name
    ~Mosaic
    Dance is like glitter, it not only colours your life, it makes you sparkle, you find it everywhere and in everything and it's near impossible to get rid of. (unknown)


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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    A hard one - as one person's interesting is another person's puke making. What is interesting will depend on the students. If you have a good idea of what the mix will be you can tailor something for a particular slant. If you have a chance to pre-enrol you could ask what they what to get out of class. If they want to play dress-ups maybe ankle bracelets would do it. If they are interested in culture and authentic costumes you could start with some appropriate video clips (bringing costumes along would destroy the class for the group I have in mind). If they are fitness orientated slant your spiel to muscles and physical benefits. If they are into performance either dance yourself (in costume) or again show video clips - but of high end performers.

    As a rule of thumb, I show (belly dance) clips and make a point of speaking to each new student. We do movements with names and try and recall each person's name and movement.

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    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    Dance for them, to show what they are going to learn. Always works

  7. #7
    Member Starmouth's Avatar
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    Being lively, knowledgeable and friendly is the best way to make the class interesting.

    I remember that in my first lesson the teacher gave us a quick 5 or ten minute 'introduction' to belly dance, quickly explaining the various styles, what style her class would focus on and the origins. She also gave us a hand-out to read at home (just a bit of belly dance history), then made sure the class was comfortable by explaining that you do not need to be a certain size of level of fitness to belly dance! This certainly relaxed me and made for an atmosphere more conducive to enjoyment.

    She then showed us correct posture and took us through a gentle warm-up to a beautiful piece of music (which we have used every week since and I still don't know the name of!) and lent us each a coin scarf. Much excitement ensued!

    For me, the best thing about that class was that we learned a very basic routine at the end It really made me feel that I was learning to dance, not just go through the motions. Just a simple routine to Kiss Kiss by Tarkan, a few hip drops and piston hips, little shoulder shimmy, but I was delighted with myself and hooked from then on!

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    @goddessyasaman: Thanks, giving everyone an ankle bracelet sounds like a good idea and as making jewellery is another part of what I do, it shouldn't be too difficult.

    @Shanazel: I do like the idea of getting the students to pronounce different middle eastern dance names. I am going start searching for the names. Thanks!

    @Kashmir:There's truth in what you said, different people would have different needs. So what happened if there is a mixture of needs, should I try to remember what each student wants and encourage them accordingly?

    @Amulya: Yes, I did thought of doing that, show them what they will be learning. Do you think it's a good idea to also teach them a simple and fun dance combination during the first lesson?

    @Starmouth: Thanks for giving the perspective of a student. It was so long ago since I attended my first lesson, I forgot how it is like to learn something new.

  9. #9
    Member Elfie's Avatar
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    So. As I have never taken an actual class before, I wanted to chime in here. If I were starting a beginner class, this is what I would expect from my teacher, as well as a few things that could be fun and informative at the same time. Some of it may not be reasonable, I don't know. I've never taken a class. But this is what I expect out of the very first lesson - a sort of orientation type deal, with some fun elements.

    I'd expect:

    *to see my teacher dance for a short bit - maybe a two minute number
    *introductions between the teacher and the students (any fun things like gifts or games could be worked in with this like the one Shanazel suggested - the ME dance name thing sounds awesome!)
    *show and tell of dance items from the teacher - simple stuff at first - showing zills, drums, veil, hip scarves (maybe even have a costume or two on mannequins to show them and talk a bit about - the sparkles always make it interesting!)
    *a bit of background on ME dance and music (video clips, music clips etc.)
    *safety and health stuff - the importance of proper stretching etc.
    *warmup
    *proper posture and "dance" pose; then on to basic isolations and the "twist" shimmy
    *simple weight changing and single "step-together-step-together" moves
    *framing arms
    *combine twist, single step and framing arms; after a few repetitions to the left, right, front and back, introduce arm paths - free movement to get used to moving the arms during dance
    *a few minutes of "free belly dance" (improv) so the teacher can assess the students in a casual fashion
    *cool down
    *class conclusion

    I don't know how plausible that would be for a first lesson. But I would absolutely expect to see my teacher dance and to be assessed by the teacher from the very start. That way he or she could better know where potential problem areas are right from the start. And if you're a "hands-on" type of teacher, this bit could help you introduce that aspect of your teaching method. Walk through the students and do small corrections such as lifting their arms up higher, nudging the shoulders back - it's all about the students being comfortable with you and you with them, so it's better to establish this kind of thing right off, I think. And, it gives you a more casual setting as a teacher to walk among the students and chit chat, offer encouragements, and with the small "hands-on" approach, you can establish if any of your students have an issue with touching without them feeling "singled out". Some people do.

    This is what just one classroom newbie (meaning I have never taken a class) expects to see when she does finally get a class together. I don't know if it's even a doable lesson, per se, but something very like that is what I would expect from my teacher. Granted, I've been self studying and know a bit more about the dance than most true beginners do (though not much more, I admit LOL!), but I've never had the benifit of a classroom setting or a live teacher. So maybe I expect more from a live teacher than I should. But maybe it will be helpful to you. Good luck!

    Luckily for you that you're teaching belly dance. After a few lessons, you should have no trouble keeping them interested. Belly dance is so much fun in itself that you won't have to try quite so hard to keep it interesting!

  10. #10
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    Thanks Elfie, you've just confirmed on a few points I have thought about; do a short dance, move around the students and make small corrections. The points on what you would expect is also very useful, might incorporate some into the lesson plan.

    As this is my first time, there is always the worry of not doing it well and not being able to keep everyone interested. So, I am going to be making lots of preparation.


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