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  1. #1
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    Default Beginner class from a beginner teacher

    Hi all,

    I've been asked to do an hour long belly dance lesson for a community charity day, for people who have never done it before. I've been dancing on and off for a few years but am absolutely not anywhere near teaching level and I know it! I'd call myself an early intermediate. I explained to the organisers that I'm not advanced at all but they don't mind - they just want someone who can do an hour long lesson that absolute dead beginners with no experience at all will enjoy.

    I'm reluctant because I know how low my level really is, but the organisers are very persistent and keep pointing out that only I will know the true extent (or lack of!) of my prowess! It's for a good cause and they're so persistent I can see myself caving....so....

    Can anyone recommend a good track that I could use to put together a very basic choreography over the course of the lesson? Something Middle Eastern that will help people to get a feel of that kind of music, but sequential and catchy enough not to be too challenging to new ears and muscles? In fact, if anyone has an actual choreography that would work that they don't mind my using, I would be very grateful. I am not being paid for this, it is only for charity, and I would give full credit. And if any teachers can give me any hints and tips, please do! I thought I'd go through posture, hip circles, figure eights, hip drops, stepping back and forth, maybe shoulder shimmies, and that's got to be enough for one hour!

    Many thanks to all!

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Don't do a choreography!!!

    In one hour, with raw beginners, you are lucky to be able to teach them a few moves. They will struggle with that and a choreography will only confuse and frustrate them. It'll be hard enough to teach them a couple of combinations.

    Further, if you drill them in simple moves you can walk around and help them - and ensure they are doing it safely. And of course start with moves which are inherently safe - and a CV warmup to begin and a short cooldown at the end.

    If you really, really must teach this. Sit down for an hour or so and think of what basic skills you want to teach. Then find a track for each movement. Think of how you will teach the move and how you will deal with people who cannot get it the first time. Think of what can go wrong - and think of how you will deal with it.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    I was lucky enough to attend a little intro open house type class at my studio. Approximately half the participants were people who were already taking classes, who wanted a refresher, an extra class, or an intro to this particular teacher. The other half were raw beginners with NO experience. It was also pretty small, which helped immensely. Now, that teacher was experienced, but what she did may still help you.

    First, she did a little warm up with music, and introduced basic hip slides and shoulder slides. She wasn't trying to get everyone to have perfect technique, just get them used to moving. She taught about five or six basic moves and drilled them individually (hip bumps, snake arms, shoulder shimmy, a few variations on figure 8s, a slow basic Egyptian, and a slow shimmy, if I'm remembering everything), and then she strung them together in a short combo. She had music, but we actually had a couple of drummers present, so she skipped the music and just had them drum a constant rhythm. I think everyone had fun and got their blood pumping, even if they didn't look perfect or completely nail the thing. It was more about being a fun introduction than a "class".

    The only thing I'd say is that she could have skipped the shimmy, and subbed in something easier, or left it out altogether. That was the only thing some people really struggled and got frustrated with. She only spent about 5 minutes demonstrating, breaking down, and drilling each move, so that she could get the combo in, all in an hour. It was a lot, and in a larger group, it probably would have been more frustrating.

    I think she could have done three or four moves with a couple of variations and everyone would have been equally happy, and it would have worked for a larger or more diverse group.

  4. #4
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    Great advice, thank you both.

    Yes, perhaps instead of a choreography, I can teach one or two moves, then do a track incorporating those two moves as they copy me....another one or two moves, then a track incorporating everything thus far...and so on until the final one. I've got no illusions that a single one hour class will give a dead beginner great technique or anything like that (and if it could, I'm not the person who could make it happen) but if they can just get a feel for the music and the movements and find themselves enjoying it and getting a taste of its potential, then that's enough...and who knows, some might be inspired to take it further!

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