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  1. #11
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    Darshiva, I really appreciate your advice. You're right. After watching my words repeatedly bounce off this woman, it seems unlikely that she'll read my letter, much less act on it. I'll give her a copy, but you cemented my resolve to communicate with the director, and I'll hit all the points you listed. I especially like the word "unprofessional" and will sprinkle it throughout.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva View Post
    With the ads, I'd want to know what her fitness qualifications are, because (at least in Australia) you can't advertise the fitness benefits of what you are teaching unless you have fitness accreditation.
    Does anyone know the legalities of advertising fitness benefits without being certified in the US?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva View Post
    Alternatively, pm one of the teachers here (there are a few of us) and ask for advice on how to tackle your self-education.
    I didn't know I could do that. What a wonderful community this is!

    Khanjar, I love birds. Especially clever birds like starlings.

    Quote Originally Posted by khanjar View Post
    I will not allow myself to progress into uncertain territory until I know everything to know about the territory I am already in as without foundations what do we have but uncertain structures.
    That's exactly how I feel. I've been studying for a long time, and if there's one thing I've figured out, it's how to learn, and brains can only retain so much before learning stops.

    Quote Originally Posted by khanjar View Post
    ...teachers by having a troupe are advertising their abilities and with a troupe if they dance with the troupe, which is my observation, then they set themselves up to shine compared to the troupe. Now whether this is wholesome or it is not, I don't now, but one thing I understand of good teachers be they teachers of anything, they tend to prefer to stay out of the limelight and shine through those they have taught.
    Wow, do you know her? I never thought about it from that angle, but she does have a troupe of older women, and I can't imagine she'd let herself be outshone by any of them.

    Great point too, about good teachers seeing the education of a student as a worthy goal. She'd never have a more passionate student than me. I would have done my best to make her proud. and we could have had some fun in the process. That's how it's supposed to work, right? Instead it's been a bit of an ordeal, for me, anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by khanjar View Post
    ...getting back involved sleeping for a while in a bus shelter, walking around about twelve miles through unlit country lanes then giving up in the next town , to get an expensive taxi to get home, 40 miles and it took me 8 hours...
    Now I feel like a wimp for not wanting to drive 20 minutes to find a better teacher. That's inspiring! Huge hugs!

  2. #12
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    When I was a beginner (and continuing beginner) I did experience the problem of the class becoming merely choreography and not enough (if any) technique. Sure enough, I would merely give up and never found my footing with the dance until last year when I became inspired by an Egyptian style teacher here in Asia.

    Now that I'm beyond beginner I am more vocal about what I want and am honest about my learning style. My new teacher understands and is very accommodating so I am now commencing private classes with her, studying technique and combinations. She also has a purely technique class which I love too.

    Now, having said all that, I never complained to my former teachers. I accepted that this was their teaching style / method and the other students seemed to respond so my feeling is, oh well... :-) I concur with the others here that writing a letter may not be all that useful. Use the time to find another teacher whom you feel comfortable with and inspires you.

    As for teachers giving help, it's a pity she couldn't recommend a DVD or other resources to you (I could do that off the top of my head!) but there is such a wealth of information on the internet nowadays, self-study is far easier. Just these boards alone has given me so much it's amazing.

    All the best in your bellydance journey!!

  3. #13
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    It doesn't sound like talking to her will help, if you've already tried and got nowhere. I'd tell the rec centre why they've lost you though, because if their brochure said one thing and she taught something else then clearly there are communication issues that need addressing. It's not right for a teacher to be taken on to teach A but for her to decide to teach B because she finds A boring or has some other reason for teaching B.

    No teachers don't have to have a troupe. If they have a good one that is a good advert for their teaching abilities, great. How do you ever have that by not bothering with the basics? All you will end up with is a bunch of people faking their way through choreographies. A troupe that is not up to scratch for the event, especially fronted by the teacher, sends loads of wrong messages for me.

    Even if you joined mid-session I think a less-than-1-year beginner class is still in need of constant revision and practicing of the basics IMNSHO. It's not like you do horizontal 8's or hip drops in lesson one and say OK we've all got that down now, no more need to repeat the descriptions, remind people what they are trying to do, correct faults etc etc.

  4. #14
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Okay, as a rec center teacher who is cognizant of the problems inherent in teaching at that venue, I am going to play devil's advocate here.

    There is nothing in the outline that suggests no choreography will be taught in the beginning class. Assuming the teacher covered the choreographed moves in the basic part of the class, I see no particular problem assembling them into a beginning choreography. Many beginners enjoy learning an entire dance and are disappointed if one is not included. When I introduced a choreography to my monthly beginning class after only four hours of basics, a couple of the students actually yelped with joy because what they wanted to do was put those basic skills to use.

    Consider the difficult position of a teacher who is faced with making class interesting for ten continuing students and one shy and terrified beginner who by her own admission requires firm emotional support and who is somewhat alienated from her body. This teacher solved the problem as well as she could by repeating the basics already learned by ten students and eventually incorporating those basics into a choreographed dance of twelve (not twenty seven) relatively simple movements. I’d probably not use maya and camel in a beginning choreography and have no idea what harem waltz may be, but see no problems with other movements chosen. I also change choreography as problems arise with practice, but it is simple enough to have students pencil in changes to the outline. You DID take your outline and a pencil to class with you, right?

    If you mentioned how much time you spent practicing at home, I missed it, but this is where many students hamstring themselves. One can’t learn to dance in one hour a week. Most teachers expect students to spend a bare minimum of a quarter to half an hour a day practicing what they learned in class so they’ll be ready for class the following week. Don’t ask me how much time I spend repeating lessons because folks don’t bother to practice on their own; the answer depresses me. Generations of dancers practiced alone without DVDs so don’t offer not having a DVD as an excuse for not practicing.

    I am truly not being snarky here, but you expect this person to teach you the basics and continue drilling movements in class until you are personally comfortable with them. You also want her to help you overcome shyness, do outside research to come up with a list of appropriate beginning DVDs for you, not add anything to the class not already spelled out in fifty words or less, and to promptly respond to personal requests. Your e-mail may’ve immediately been sent by the server to her trash file; I’ve lost more than one important e-mail this way. At any rate, assuming that she lied about it is not very nice and mentioning this assumption in an official letter to her employer would be pretty nasty indeed.

    I agree she shouldn’t have promised something she didn’t procure, but she may’ve just forgotten the request. Saying that the basics are boring is a strange statement unless one translates it to mean drilling the basics is boring. I heartily agree with that translation and refer the reader to the paragraph on practicing at home. This teacher only has one hour to teach. If she spends ten minutes on warm up, five minutes on cool down, and half an hour teaching and drilling new material, that leaves fifteen minutes for practicing old and new movements via choreography. I put more emphasis on improvisational dance myself but her time breakdown doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me, especially if you consider choreography a way of practicing what you’ve learned in other parts of the class.

    Using research skills gained through higher education to find resources turned out better than waiting for someone else to do the research for you; perhaps you should have considered it sooner because see what a wonderful resource you found here at OD!

    Except for me, of course. You’re probably pretty pissed at me by now and what I’m going to add will probably irk you even more. A teacher’s job is to teach all of her students in as equitable manner as possible, to make corrections and answer questions in class, and to base class progress on overall student ability rather than on that of the slowest or fastest learner. A student’s job is to keep an open mind, listen in class, follow all instructions, ask questions when necessary, make a few notes after class, and practice diligently on his or her own. Before you decide the fault all lies with this teacher, ask yourself how well you met the requirements of your own job.

    And lest you think I am being uncharitable, please consider that I just donated over an hour of my own time and experience to consider your situation and further your dance education. That’s what teachers do, even when the information may not please the recipient.

    Good luck.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  5. #15
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    My classes are a bit of all sorts, they always have been with both teachers I have had, all sorts in that there is time for technique, new stuff, existing stuff, putting it all together into some sort of order, which usually ends up as a choreo and time for problems but I think it is essential to get a good balance to suit all students, to keep the interest alive.

  6. #16
    Moderator Farasha Hanem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Okay, as a rec center teacher who is cognizant of the problems inherent in teaching at that venue, I am going to play devil's advocate here.

    There is nothing in the outline that suggests no choreography will be taught in the beginning class. Assuming the teacher covered the choreographed moves in the basic part of the class, I see no particular problem assembling them into a beginning choreography. Many beginners enjoy learning an entire dance and are disappointed if one is not included. When I introduced a choreography to my monthly beginning class after only four hours of basics, a couple of the students actually yelped with joy because what they wanted to do was put those basic skills to use.

    Consider the difficult position of a teacher who is faced with making class interesting for ten continuing students and one shy and terrified beginner who by her own admission requires firm emotional support and who is somewhat alienated from her body. This teacher solved the problem as well as she could by repeating the basics already learned by ten students and eventually incorporating those basics into a choreographed dance of twelve (not twenty seven) relatively simple movements. Iíd probably not use maya and camel in a beginning choreography and have no idea what harem waltz may be, but see no problems with other movements chosen. I also change choreography as problems arise with practice, but it is simple enough to have students pencil in changes to the outline. You DID take your outline and a pencil to class with you, right?

    If you mentioned how much time you spent practicing at home, I missed it, but this is where many students hamstring themselves. One canít learn to dance in one hour a week. Most teachers expect students to spend a bare minimum of a quarter to half an hour a day practicing what they learned in class so theyíll be ready for class the following week. Donít ask me how much time I spend repeating lessons because folks donít bother to practice on their own; the answer depresses me. Generations of dancers practiced alone without DVDs so donít offer not having a DVD as an excuse for not practicing.


    I am truly not being snarky here, but you expect this person to teach you the basics and continue drilling movements in class until you are personally comfortable with them. You also want her to help you overcome shyness, do outside research to come up with a list of appropriate beginning DVDs for you, not add anything to the class not already spelled out in fifty words or less, and to promptly respond to personal requests. Your e-mail mayíve immediately been sent by the server to her trash file; Iíve lost more than one important e-mail this way. At any rate, assuming that she lied about it is not very nice and mentioning this assumption in an official letter to her employer would be pretty nasty indeed.

    I agree she shouldnít have promised something she didnít procure, but she mayíve just forgotten the request. Saying that the basics are boring is a strange statement unless one translates it to mean drilling the basics is boring. I heartily agree with that translation and refer the reader to the paragraph on practicing at home. This teacher only has one hour to teach. If she spends ten minutes on warm up, five minutes on cool down, and half an hour teaching and drilling new material, that leaves fifteen minutes for practicing old and new movements via choreography. I put more emphasis on improvisational dance myself but her time breakdown doesnít seem all that unreasonable to me, especially if you consider choreography a way of practicing what youíve learned in other parts of the class.

    Using research skills gained through higher education to find resources turned out better than waiting for someone else to do the research for you; perhaps you should have considered it sooner because see what a wonderful resource you found here at OD!


    Except for me, of course. Youíre probably pretty pissed at me by now and what Iím going to add will probably irk you even more. A teacherís job is to teach all of her students in as equitable manner as possible, to make corrections and answer questions in class, and to base class progress on overall student ability rather than on that of the slowest or fastest learner. A studentís job is to keep an open mind, listen in class, follow all instructions, ask questions when necessary, make a few notes after class, and practice diligently on his or her own. Before you decide the fault all lies with this teacher, ask yourself how well you met the requirements of your own job.

    And lest you think I am being uncharitable, please consider that I just donated over an hour of my own time and experience to consider your situation and further your dance education. Thatís what teachers do, even when the information may not please the recipient.

    Good luck.
    I agree wholeheartedly. If one truly wants to become a bellydancer, you have to be willing to do your own research and outside study as much as possible. Before my son got his first computer, and before I found my bellydance teacher, I was on my own with instructional tapes and DVD's, and what books I managed to find at the bookstore. A lot of info in those books was erroneous, but some of it is useful (just not all the bullmalarky about the history of the dance ). Then when my son got his computer, I discovered this site, and a plethora of online resources available to me (of course, you have to be careful about online sources, too). How much and how badly you want to learn is up to you. Teachers can't spoonfeed us everything.

    Like Shanazel, I'm not trying to be catty or disregard your feelings. I'm merely trying to encourage you to take some self-initiative in your own bellydance education. Research can be so much fun, I love it!

  7. #17
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Arguing for the sake of debate (which I am known to do), one could presume that the OP's presence here indicates her own desire and ability to research on her own and was perhaps looking for more direct guidance from her teacher which she felt she was paying for and not getting in the class.

    I've certainly been that student.
    Bellydance in Kyabram!
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  8. #18
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    It's been really helpful to get such a range of answers because now feeling conflicted seems reasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Habiba View Post
    I accepted that this was their teaching style / method and the other students seemed to respond so my feeling is, oh well... :-) ...Use the time to find another teacher whom you feel comfortable with and inspires you.
    Habiba, I've been thinking about this, and you make an excellent point. I work hard to minimize conflict and have fun in the rest of my life, so it makes sense to do that here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Habiba View Post
    ...there is such a wealth of information on the internet nowadays, self-study is far easier. Just these boards alone has given me so much it's amazing.
    The best thing about bringing my problem here has been realizing how rich and supportive these boards are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aniseteph View Post
    It doesn't sound like talking to her will help, if you've already tried ad got nowhere. I'd tell the rec centre why they've lost you though...
    Aniseteph, I'm definitely done talking to her, but I'll give her a copy of the letter when I send one to the rec center so it doesn't look like I'm going behind her back. She probably won't read it though

    Quote Originally Posted by Aniseteph View Post
    No teachers don't have to have a troupe. If they have a good one that is a good advert for their teaching abilities, great. How do you ever have that by not bothering with the basics? All you will end up with is a bunch of people faking their way through choreographies. A troupe that is not up to scratch for the event, especially fronted by the teacher, sends loads of wrong messages for me.
    Shanazel, I'm not mad. I appreciate having a devil's advocate. You sound blunt and to the point, like I am. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspectives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    There is nothing in the outline that suggests no choreography will be taught in the beginning class.
    Since choreography was included in the description of the intermediate class and omitted in the description of the beginner's class, it seemed safe to assume choreography was reserved for advanced students. When I brought that up, she said she DID mention choreography in the beginner's class description, which might not have been a lie, but was definitely untrue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    You DID take your outline and a pencil to class with you, right?
    I did indeed take my outline and a pencil, but it'll be a while before I can learn dance steps and run to the back of the room to write and back to dance, especially as often as she changed and re-changed the steps. When I say I'm a non-dancer, seriously, I'm not kidding. I don't have a dance vocabulary. I do understand that some students might be delighted by choreography, but I'm not interested in it. I also understand that she has to make a lot of compromises.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    If you mentioned how much time you spent practicing at home, I missed it, but this is where many students hamstring themselves. One can’t learn to dance in one hour a week.
    That's the point I was trying to make with her. I kept telling her I couldn’t possibly learn to dance in one hour a week, so every week I asked if she'd thought of a way I could practice between classes. It didn't have to be a DVD or Youtube. As I said, I'm practically a professional learner. She could have recommended a book describing the specific steps we were learning, or she could have told me the style she teaches so I could look it up myself. As you said, harem waltz isn't in your vocabulary, and I've learned that people call different belly dance steps by different names and they all teach steps a little differently. And that was the problem I ran into when I tried to learn on Youtube.

    My teacher covered each step for three to five minutes, period, and for whatever reason, I'd get home all excited to practice, and I'd have no memory of what we did in class. Sometimes I'd even find myself hurting myself (I posted earlier elsewhere on here about hurting my knees when I practiced) but every week she'd say she forgot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    I am truly not being snarky here, but you expect this person to teach you the basics and continue drilling movements in class until you are personally comfortable with them. You also want her to help you overcome shyness, do outside research to come up with a list of appropriate beginning DVDs for you, not add anything to the class not already spelled out in fifty words or less, and to promptly respond to personal requests. Your e-mail may’ve immediately been sent by the server to her trash file; I’ve lost more than one important e-mail this way. At any rate, assuming that she lied about it is not very nice and mentioning this assumption in an official letter to her employer would be pretty nasty indeed.
    I'm not shy at all. You'd love having me as a student, because I'm fun, I have tons of enthusiasm, and I want to learn to belly dance more than almost anything, but I am a total non-dancer, and if I can't go to a beginner's belly dance dance class to learn to belly dance, where am I supposed to go?

    I sent the message privately to her via Facebook, where she posts like crazy, so I'm pretty sure she got it.

    But seriously, all these details aside, the issue is her repeated failure to even try to help me, and I'm sure you as a teacher of integrity would be eager to help any student who obviously wanted to learn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    This teacher only has one hour to teach. If she spends ten minutes on warm up, five minutes on cool down, and half an hour teaching and drilling new material, that leaves fifteen minutes for practicing old and new movements via choreography. I put more emphasis on improvisational dance myself but her time breakdown doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me, especially if you consider choreography a way of practicing what you’ve learned in other parts of the class.
    I agree, and as I said above, I made the decision to tough out the choreography when it was only a quarter of the lesson, but when she devoted the entire class to choreography and announced she'd be doing it for the remaining three classes, I decided to quit and try to get my husband's money back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    A teacher’s job is to teach all of her students in as equitable manner as possible, to make corrections and answer questions in class, and to base class progress on overall student ability rather than on that of the slowest or fastest learner. A student’s job is to keep an open mind, listen in class, follow all instructions, ask questions when necessary, make a few notes after class, and practice diligently on his or her own. Before you decide the fault all lies with this teacher, ask yourself how well you met the requirements of your own job.
    Agreed.
    Last edited by starling; 05-07-2012 at 10:37 PM.

  9. #19
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farasha Hanem View Post
    If one truly wants to become a bellydancer, you have to be willing to do your own research and outside study as much as possible.
    Absolutely. But not everyone going to belly dance classes wants to become a belly dancer (whatever that that means! pro, semi-pro, serious student who wants to perform, troupe member, etc). Some just want to have a dabble in something new, a bit of light exercise, feel better about their bodies, get out of the house for some me time, make some new friends... Maybe they'll get bitten by the bug and want more, maybe they'll just be happy coming to class once a week, never practicing and making minimal progress. Unless they signed up to a class that said you will be expected to do X hours practice a week to keep up and not suck, it's up to them, IMO.

    In a continuing class I agree you have to tailor to the majority and if possible help the faster and slower ones find coping strategies. But in a new beginners class advertised as being FOR beginners, rather than more mixed level, IMO the needs of the complete noobs slightly outweigh the more experienced ones. If they need a little more attention you can go through a basic move with them again while the others drill it faster or with attention to arms or not bouncing or whatever.

    I'm all for beginner choreographies to consolidate and practice what you are learning, but only if they are simple enough that you can focus on what you are doing technique-wise rather than be playing catch-up all the time. Oh yeah, this is the hip drops for 8 on each side... even if you miss the start you can catch up and be joining in before the next bit. Maybe you'll even remember the next bit (at which point I would invariably be so pleased and surprised with myself I'd mess up the next bit )

    I don't know what the OP's BD world is like, but when I started I had NO IDEA that there was a BD scene or online resources. I couldn't have told tribal from Egyptian from anything else, let alone negotiated all the different DVDs and music out there. If I wasn't so shy about having been bitten by the BD bug I would have totally gone to my teacher with questions, and been happy to have been told "go Google Shira".

  10. #20
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starling View Post
    I just found a Youtube link: In the pink 8.4.11.m4v - YouTube showing some of my teacher's dancers. I don't see her here on the boards, and if she were here much, she would have recommended it. I don't think the video identifies her or her students by name. I'd just like to know what other teachers think of her teaching. I'm not a dancer, and my personal style is different, but I can't say I'm dazzled. And maybe it's just a style thing.
    I didn't watch the full video, but everything I saw it in seemed perfectly reasonable and includes a lot of different skill levels. I didn't see/hear enough of her teaching style to make any judgment on that.


    Quote Originally Posted by starling View Post
    That's the point I was trying to make with her. I kept telling her I couldnít possibly learn to dance in one hour a week, so every week I asked if she'd thought of a way I could practice between classes. It didn't have to be a DVD or Youtube. As I said, I'm practically a professional learner. She could have recommended a book describing the specific steps we were learning, or she could have told me the style she teaches so I could look it up myself.
    This is part of it that is troubling me. No one can learn to dance in an hour a week, but, as a student, it is your responsibility to keep notes in class and practice at home. It is not the teacher's responsibility to provide you with outside resources for your practice. Unless she has written one, there is probably not a book that details what she is teaching you exactly. This dance is based on a set of folk styles, so many of the movements have different names (or no names) and their execution is different based on different styles and dance lineages. In many cases, it is impossible to give a student outside resources that will match precisely what the teacher is showing you.

    I'll give you an example from my own experience as a teacher. I had a student who complained about my classes because she didn't feel like she was learning enough because she wasn't progressing as quickly as the other people in class. The other dancers were diligently writing down and practicing everything we were doing in class at home. I provide handouts for many of my class because I like to, but even with the handouts listing everything we were working on in class, she was upset because she felt that it was my fault she wasn't improving. She subsequently tried and quit another 4 teachers' classes for the same reasons and wrote nasty things about all of us on her blog. I understood her frustration, but the teacher can only teach; the student has to also actively participate in learning.

    It may not be the case in your situation. You may have just found a bad teacher or the class may have just been a bad fit for you, but I encourage you to think it through carefully. How often did you practice at home? Did you take notes in class to help you with your practices? Did you consider meeting up with other students for practice time outside of class? Did you consider private lessons with your instructor?

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