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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Question Article-Is Bellydance For Everyone?

    Hi Everyone, I read the article mentioned in the title on Hip Circle and it's posted here on the forum as well. The author touched on several subjects that has coincided with some of my own observations. What are your thoughts when you read the article?
    For me, most of our students are non-dancers and are looking for ways to have fun and lose weight. But most are not having fun when they are challenged to move to music. It's not only because they are non-dancers but because they lead very sedentary lives. Most of our students don't exercise at all and think a one hour class per week will whip them into shape with a flat belly and all. I realize that many of the students don't desire to perform at all, which is ok and not mandatory at our school. But I have an obligation to share my knowledge of the dance, culture and music with them nonetheless. What are your opinions and experiences?
    Yasmine

  2. #2
    Junior Member Marisha's Avatar
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    Dear Yasmine,
    I think that your appoach should depend on the kind of audience you want to attract - people who want a fun and easy class or those willing to sweat it out for the dance. I am/was precisely the type of student that started out learning oriental dance because I wanted a fun workout instead of the boring gym. I had no desire to perform professionally (and still don't...too much work, I don't know how professional dancers can keep up with all the practice, costumes, gigs, teaching seminars , etc, not to mention that a great deal talent is also required ) I went to a class that was a great work out, the teacher was upbeat, able to explain the steps well and create fun choreos but she never really went into explaining much about the history of the dance, the rythms, etc. So after a while I fell in love (more like addiction) with this dance and I felt I needed something more. So I went to study with a different teacher (teachers, actually) who were much more focused on the authenticity and history of this dance - Tarik Sultan and aunt Rocky! (I am soo lucky to be living in NYC!) I had a great time and loved every minute of the almost two hour long class. Now, unfortunately, for personal reasons, I no longer take classes but I do miss them very much.
    Best love,
    Marisha

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    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    Belly dancing is like hatha yoga or flamenco or a few other things I can think of -- you could teach it out of any cultural context but it will neither be as meaningful nor as helpful in the long run to any serious student.

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    What about the possibility of teaching a seperate class for casual dancy exercisers and one for people who really want to learn Belly Dance? It may not be feasible for you but I do know of some people who successfully do it this way - they have some cross overs but for the most part everyone is happy (in a sweaty masachistic type of way )

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    I think you should learn them how to bellydance and if it's possible, offer performance chances for those who want to, and those who don't want to don't have to. If they don't want to hear anything about the cultural background or some more indepth knowledge about the music, why don't they order a dvd and practice at home?
    If you sign up for, let's say, soccer classes, you can also expect to learn the rules of the game besides running around and kicking the ball.
    I think students who come more "for fun" won't mind hearing some indepth information. If they are not really interested, they'll forget it. Or maybe they will become interested!
    I also started bellydancing for fun but I became more interested while learning, so you never know.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moon View Post
    I think you should learn them how to bellydance and if it's possible, offer performance chances for those who want to, and those who don't want to don't have to. If they don't want to hear anything about the cultural background or some more indepth knowledge about the music, why don't they order a dvd and practice at home?
    If you sign up for, let's say, soccer classes, you can also expect to learn the rules of the game besides running around and kicking the ball.
    I think students who come more "for fun" won't mind hearing some indepth information. If they are not really interested, they'll forget it. Or maybe they will become interested!
    I also started bellydancing for fun but I became more interested while learning, so you never know.
    I agree w/ moon... I started "just for Fun (& exercise) too... but got addicted!
    I do teach to "get in shape", & because I perform alot, I cannot help but come from that point of view as well!... but I always tell my students that I will never "make" them perfrom, however, they are dancing for the most important audience of all.... themselves, so even the "I'll never be caught dead on stage" students would do well to consider angles/ body line/proper technique/emotion/rythyms/history/cultural context & all the other stuff I babble about during my shimmy lectures!

  7. #7
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Ha! Is this forum great or what? I just read that article and my typing fingers got twitchy....

    My first thought on reading the article was , because without that usual "belly dance is for everyone" message I would have felt excluded (too old, too not-a-dancer) and not gone to that first class. No I'm not a dancer, no I don't want to go pro, but I'm still serious about it and want to do a good job in my student performances. And I have fun.

    Is she saying that because she's teaching in a dance studio the students who find it very difficult or aren't serious dance students shouldn't be there? ( rant deleted - either have a door policy or deal with it. So they look like they hate it? if they still turn up they must be getting something out of it).

    I take the "belly dance is for everyone" message as a friendly invitation and an open door. Not a guarantee of success in finding some "inner dancer", not code for "come to classes and you can be a belly dancer regardless of effort or natural aptitude" (who seriously thinks that after their first lesson?). And certainly not a reason to dumb down the the cultural messages/context/background. I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of the bellydance addicts originally just turned up for a bit of a giggle and an alternative to aerobics (bleurgh*).

    *IMHO

  8. #8
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    Yasmine, you and I are on the same page. I was thinking about posting about that article too. My agenda is to teach the women who come to my class to become the best dancers they can be so I push my students, nicely with humor and within reason but we work hard. I have lost a few students because it's not super laid back, it isn't focused on having alternative exercise... I think Belly dance is for everyone in the sense that it is open for everyone to try, try it on and see if it speaks to them and if so start on their journey.

  9. #9
    Junior Member akewa's Avatar
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    Default easy NOT

    Ok I read said article which I had to find . Now I have many more to read did not know about them on here. Thank You for that.

    Anyways, one of the things I think I understand what is trying to be said is that belly dance is easy. By saying it is for everyone it comes across as easy. Let me explain. I grew up with ballet and tap then later some jazz. Now everyone thinks ballet is hard in many ways and they are right and wrong. It is all about prespective. Any dance is going to be hard for someone that has 1 not dance/taking classes before and 2 is out of shape. One of these by themselves is bad enough but both thats a major obsticle. Bravo to all that have done it.

    Ok now from my background I find belly dance is harder than ballet and tap or jazz. Much harder because you are moving much faster for one and more muscels at one time. Now granted I am out of shape and much older now than then. Still even when I was much younger and in much better shape and taking bellydance classes it was still hard. It was not the posture for that came back easy( had that hammered in from 4 years old) it was the movements with speed.

    For some reason the image of bellydance is that it is easier than all other dances. That I will never figure out. This also goes to people taking a class for one year then teaching. Why because they think it is easy and they can teach it to make money. Now those that stick with it learn and know that is not true. So why this image that bellydance is for everyone and its easy? Yes, it is great exercise and is a full workout and alot of fun and it can help many health problems. It is not for everyone like the article said they will be certain people that will never be albe to get it even close because of mental or physical conditions. Not that they can't try but they are more likly to hurt themselves if the push it.

    I think maybe education in the class is a must here or even before. I too like the everyone message but I also can see the flip side of that coin too. Maybe not as the article put it out to be. Everyone should be able to try anything they want as long as they do not get hurt. I think one reason bellydance gets so many is that people just want to dance and most classes are for a certain body type image. I mean really could you see a heavy person doing ballet... no why because we see it just the other way all the time. In bellydance some meat on the bones is prefered to the prepubesent look.

    I think we just need to get around to getting the bellydance=easy out of the image.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Bellydance is open to everyone...but not everone is open to bellydance.

    I think it's great that bellydance is promoted to people of all shapes, sizes, and (hopefully) genders. But I have a real problem with the author asking "is it for everyone" simply because her beginner students seem to be having a hard time moving well. I don't know why the author didn't simply tell her new students to try to loosen up, provide them with a good warmup or stretch, or ask them if they are able to unclench their feet. That would be the logical way to deal with the issue...writing an article about it won't help anyone. If her "slow" students are determined, they will eventually learn the moves, and improve their dancing. They will strengthen and gain control over their bodies. This will be of great benefit to them, even if they never perform.

    Ballet used to be taught to upper-class girls who would never be allowed to perform in public, simply because of the desired side effects - good posture, vitality, and grace. So it is not so unusual that today women enroll in bellydance classes for similar reasons - weight loss, confidence on the dance floor, and a sense of the "feminine self".

    If the author isn't interested in teaching hobbyists or beginning dancers, that's perfectly fine. She should find someone else in the area who enjoys working with the general public, and refer any students who don't benefit from her class style. But students who are serious, talented, *and* have plenty of money for lessons are few and far between. The author probably can't support herself with ultra-dedicated students any more than a children's ballet teacher could...most students will be transitory, and AVERAGE in ability and fitness.

    My mom is a teacher, as was her mother before her. Before my mother began teaching, my grandmother pulled her aside, and told her a Great Truth:

    "Average isn't very good."

    That's why I always aspire to be Above Average, and I try to have patience with people who aren't. Especially when it's me who's stuck at Average or Below Average (horrors!).

    And about staying in Ballet I until you learn the basics...all the dance classes I've been in teach you the basics in level I, and then you repeat level II several times (until you have mastery of those basic skills).

    And for all of those people who think bellydance teachers are not "serious" unless they teach history and music...I go to dance class to learn how to dance. If I want history, I have access to the library and the internet. For music, I can listen to recordings, or take lessons from a musician. But to me, the most important part of dance class is simply learning how to dance - that's why I came. The rest is just gravy.
    Last edited by da Sage; 01-25-2007 at 08:05 AM.

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