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  1. #11
    Member onela's Avatar
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    In my entirely un-scientific experimenting, dance teachers seem to move me up a level when I don't have "concentration face" for the entire duration of their class anymore Wonder if I smile enough in the ballet recital if she'll move me up to pre-pointe next year in ballet?

  2. #12
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    The problem is often marketing. If you divide belly dance only into Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced, logic will tell you Beginner will be a signficiant length of time. You seriously cannot do six weeks beginner, six weeks intermediate and after that become "advanced". (I believe few people will reach Advanced in under 10 years without great talent and great teaching) Yet, people's ego means they want to advance through the classes - and often don't like the beginner label. So teachers label beginner 2 classes "intermediate" - and beginner 3 "advanced".

    Personally I use numbers - Intro, NextSteps1, NextSteps2 etc and a friend used to use Level 1, Level 2, etc.

    But back on topic, for me, to leave "beginner" I'd expect a student to:
    • Be able to execute basic isolations cleanly
    • Be able to transition between isolations
    • Be able to smoothly hold a shoulder shimmy and one hip shimmy for (say) two minutes
    • Be able to do some layering with a shimmy
    • Be able to safely execute a full body undulation
    • Be able to perform a simple choreography with appropriate interaction with the public in appropriate costume
    • Have some feel for Middle Eastern music
    • Be able to do a short improvisation
    • Be aware of historical and cultural context of their current style
    Simultameously???

    I wish I'd stayed in what our studio labels the beginner/intermediate class. I still feel like the worst student in the regular intermediate class, but my other teacher thought I was ready to move on. My present teacher moves through things pretty quickly, and I still have trouble with some basic moves. My teacher says my figure 8's need work, as well as my hagalas (which I don't consider a basic move, but a more advanced one). I wish I had the time to devote to practice as much as I want (and need to), but my stupid job with its seesaw schedule doesn't allow that.
    Last edited by Farasha Hanem; 06-09-2011 at 07:14 PM.

  3. #13
    Junior Member Josephine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    (I believe few people will reach Advanced in under 10 years without great talent and great teaching)
    10 years?!! I can see 10 years if someone is casually learning,

    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    to leave "beginner" I'd expect a student to:
    • Be able to execute basic isolations cleanly
    • Be able to transition between isolations
    • Be able to smoothly hold a shoulder shimmy and one hip shimmy for (say) two minutes
    • Be able to do some layering with a shimmy
    • Be able to safely execute a full body undulation
    • Be able to perform a simple choreography with appropriate interaction with the public in appropriate costume
    • Have some feel for Middle Eastern music
    • Be able to do a short improvisation
    • Be aware of historical and cultural context of their current style
    Okay, by these guidlines I'm out of beginner... which is where I've placed myself at.

  4. #14
    Member LilithNoor's Avatar
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    My cabaret class is open level, so progress is generally marked by how many layers the teacher expects us to add on to a move, and how critical she is of our basic dancing. You know you've progressed past the beginner stage when you get a critique for every single move!

    I've just moved up from a beginner ATS class to an intermediate ITS class with another teacher. I've gone there with the new teacher's permission, but OMG it's hard work! There are ladies there who have been performing ITS for longer than I've been dancing, and I'm hopelessly outclassed. It's really nice to feel stretched though, my brain feels like it's going to burst with all the new things I'm learning.

  5. #15
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josephine View Post
    10 years?!! I can see 10 years if someone is casually learning.
    10 years to what I'd call "advanced" which is a bit above dancing at the local restaurant or belly grams. I'd expect an advanced dancer to be able to handle anything you throw at them - not just have great technique but handle live bands, wow them at high class weddings, be able to pick up complex choreography in a hour or so, be able to choreograph (appropriately) to a range of music, a good working knowledge of major folkloric styles etc. Heck, the folklore alone is going to take 10 years unles you have piles of cash to chase the tutors

  6. #16
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I'm with Kashmir on this, though my estimates would have a bit wider range, depending on the student. No one expects a ballerina to be at her peak and ready for a professional troupe after only three or four years of lessons, though she can probably perform quite acceptably in local shows. I am always surprised that people are surprised that achieving advanced status as a belly dancer requires as much dedication, time, and effort as ballet.

  7. #17
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    I'm with Kashmir on this, though my estimates would have a bit wider range, depending on the student. No one expects a ballerina to be at her peak and ready for a professional troupe after only three or four years of lessons, though she can probably perform quite acceptably in local shows. I am always surprised that people are surprised that achieving advanced status as a belly dancer requires as much dedication, time, and effort as ballet.
    I'm not surprised. I'll hit my fourth year of taking formal bellydance class in September, and I still can't improv without being horribly awkward, and even some of my basic moves need work.

  8. #18
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    10 years is sort of the generic cutoff point between LEARNING and INTERNALIZING.

    I've been dancing (Middle Eastern) now for 10 years and I feel like I'm only just starting to really "gel" with the music and incorporate more advanced concepts like breath and energy and choreographic/theatrical dynamics into my performances. I'm not a casual learner by any means. I would argue I'm a VERY serious student and my family life and general lifestyle is such that my practice and rehearsal schedule is very rigorous and time-consuming. I built a small dance studio in my house. I had a ballet career before switching to Middle Eastern. "Casual" is not a word that any of my classmates/friends/colleagues would use to describe my dance experience. This is my life (or well, it was before I got pregnant. I'm sure some things are bound to change now!)

    But again, many people consider learning belly dance to be learning the movement vocabulary -- and that's the easiest part! You can have the basic movement vocabulary down in a year, arguably. Egyptian style movement vocabulary is relatively simple. I mentioned before that just about everything I've learned about movement (in Egyptian style) was covered on Leila's dvd -- with the other stuff covered by Shareen el Safy's in-depth looks at individual dancers and movement choices throughout the 1950s - 1980s.

    We often think of "moves" as being specific, discrete entities. A horizontal figure 8 of the hips, moving inwards (or back to front) is a "move." But there are a half dozen ways to execute this "move": Taking the majority of hip movement in front of, or behind, the body; allowing or not allowing the torso to undulate along with it; changing the orientation of the torso or hips as the movement moves through space; allowing more movement on one side or the other; basic changes like tempo/timing changes, level changes, timbre/energy changes -- etc.

    Being able to access these execution variations at the right place and time in the music is really something that takes experience and a keen (almost intimate) sense of what's happening in the music. Being able to EXPRESS something (emotion, soul, story, whatever) takes even more experience and more intimacy with the music.

    At ten years I barely feel like I've scratched the surface. With each new level of meaning that I uncover, I am a beginner all over again, and I LOVE that feeling. I had a Modern dance teacher once tell me "dance is constant rediscovery" and I think that's a brilliant way to put it. We rediscover movement, music, our own selves -- every time we dance.

    Recently I had the wonderful experience of spending a weekend with the living legend Elena Lentini. She talked about what it was like to be a beginner and unfamiliar with the endless opportunities available inside dancing. It was really exciting to hear a recognized master of Oriental dance theatre talk about her her career -- and even now she will tell you she's still learning and exploring and experimenting. How exciting, truly, when you're still learning after over 40 years in the art!

  9. #19
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    We do improv during the last half hour in our class, and would it be rude of me to include steps that the teacher didn't cover yet? I feel guilty for some reason as if I'm showing off.....Should I just stick with the steps she covers in class?

    I did tell my teacher I have been using DVD's before I took classes, but she may not remember. I could be wrong, but it seemed like she assumed that I didn't know some stuff (figure eights), which I have known for awhile through videos. I'm not trying to be a know-it-all, as having a live instructor is helpful to point out what details I'm doing wrong.

  10. #20
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Go with what your teacher says . If s/he says 'using moves from today's class/this term', then leave your funky moves for another time. If s/he just says to improvise, use all the bellydance tools you have at your disposal.

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