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  1. #11
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    I think a lot of the problem comes about because of the teaching of choreography. Newer students are working so hard to count and to remember the steps that they don't have "time" to learn musicality. I also think some teachers are afraid of doing more improv with their students because it's not always taken apart. For instance, when you hear the mizmar, ask students what type of movements they think would go with that, then to the oud, the same thing. In fact, a whole session on just these types of drills would probably be a good idea IMHO.

    Also, I do think that dancing to classical is a little more complicated and should not be attempted too much until the earthy elements have been "digested" first.

  2. #12
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greek Bonfire View Post
    I think a lot of the problem comes about because of the teaching of choreography.
    This is an interesting thought. In my beginning levels, part of the reason I use choreographies is to teach musicality. In my intermediate and higher levels, we focus on musicality as a topic in itself and within improv and choreography creation. I use class choreographies with my level 1 & 2 students so that I can walk them through the movements and transitions, but also so that I can explain to them why I made specific choreography choices musically. For me, I've found that using choreography to explain my own musicality process to them helps them to start developing their own.

  3. #13
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I love improv so students get to experience improv early & often. I give them the basic bones approach to musicality (this for upper body, this for lower body, this for masculine, this for feminine - listen to the music, there are no wrong answers if you are doing what the music asks you to do) and pretty much let their own ears & bodies direct their development.

    I do get students asking me why I dance a certain way to the music and I say "I hear it differently'. Then they ask how they can and I say 'practice'.

    Again, I agree that the idea is to slowly step up the complexity of the music so that they don't notice the work involved. And it's a good idea to put the musicality at the end of the class (I call it the faff session) because the musicality is what you want them to remember.
    Wild and free my effing arse! Use another word!

  4. #14
    V.I.P. Greek Bonfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mahsati_janan View Post
    This is an interesting thought. In my beginning levels, part of the reason I use choreographies is to teach musicality. In my intermediate and higher levels, we focus on musicality as a topic in itself and within improv and choreography creation. I use class choreographies with my level 1 & 2 students so that I can walk them through the movements and transitions, but also so that I can explain to them why I made specific choreography choices musically. For me, I've found that using choreography to explain my own musicality process to them helps them to start developing their own.
    I also learned choreo first as improv at the time would've been too much for me to handle. But my teachers also said to listen to the music, and not rely on counting, as I'm sure you and many other teachers have done. I do think that some students, however, get so caught up in not blowing the steps that they hang on to counting instead of really listening to the music to guide their steps even if it is choreography. And when they do, it makes it so much easier. Also, by teaching choreography, you are right - they do and should learn the musicality process. It worked for me in a big way.

  5. #15
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greek Bonfire View Post
    I also learned choreo first as improv at the time would've been too much for me to handle. But my teachers also said to listen to the music, and not rely on counting, as I'm sure you and many other teachers have done. I do think that some students, however, get so caught up in not blowing the steps that they hang on to counting instead of really listening to the music to guide their steps even if it is choreography. And when they do, it makes it so much easier. Also, by teaching choreography, you are right - they do and should learn the musicality process. It worked for me in a big way.
    Absolutely! I start with improv in my beginning classes, but in a much more limited context to ease people into it. I do things like upper and lower body improv with specific types of movements and traveling across the studio (first doing what I have them do and then adding/changing with their own improv). Counting is a great tool, but sometimes it can definitely get in the way of actually experiencing the moment and the music.

  6. #16
    Junior Member RainyDancer's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the very informative replies! They've given me a lot to think about. I will have to go back and read them again and digest them a little more.

  7. #17
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mahsati_janan View Post
    This is an interesting thought. In my beginning levels, part of the reason I use choreographies is to teach musicality. In my intermediate and higher levels, we focus on musicality as a topic in itself and within improv and choreography creation. I use class choreographies with my level 1 & 2 students so that I can walk them through the movements and transitions, but also so that I can explain to them why I made specific choreography choices musically. For me, I've found that using choreography to explain my own musicality process to them helps them to start developing their own.
    I know this is an old thread, but I reconsidered my entire beginner syllabus based on this post, and I think it's MUCH more successful now. And explaining why I chose to put this movement there is really easy, and I can throw it in AS I'm teaching. Thanks Mahsati!!

    Going through my CD collection, I found a bunch of short (90 sec or so) songs that make GREAT beginner choreographies. I think the songs that I've used in the past have just been too long and too hard to remember, or I end up trying too teach too much. 90 seconds is almost perfect for my classes. I'm finding the music organizes itself into 2 or 3 sections, some of which repeat, which is great because depending upon the class level, I can create new combinations for the repeats, or just have the same combo repeat.

    This was a good thread!

  8. #18
    Member mahsati_janan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I reconsidered my entire beginner syllabus based on this post, and I think it's MUCH more successful now. And explaining why I chose to put this movement there is really easy, and I can throw it in AS I'm teaching. Thanks Mahsati!!
    Thank you! I am glad it was helpful. For me, it is a good, non-threatening way to introduce my beginners to the idea of choosing your movements for the music and transitions well to casually explaining musicality without too much pressure on the students.

  9. #19
    V.I.P. Yame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I reconsidered my entire beginner syllabus based on this post, and I think it's MUCH more successful now. And explaining why I chose to put this movement there is really easy, and I can throw it in AS I'm teaching. Thanks Mahsati!!

    Going through my CD collection, I found a bunch of short (90 sec or so) songs that make GREAT beginner choreographies. I think the songs that I've used in the past have just been too long and too hard to remember, or I end up trying too teach too much. 90 seconds is almost perfect for my classes. I'm finding the music organizes itself into 2 or 3 sections, some of which repeat, which is great because depending upon the class level, I can create new combinations for the repeats, or just have the same combo repeat.

    This was a good thread!
    Choreography is a great teaching tool if you know how to use it well... and it can also be a huge hindrance if you don't.

    I think the best way to incorporate choreography into beginner and intermediate classes is to work on shorter choreographies and really break down the technique, explain musical concepts and why you are doing such and such a move at such and such a time, how to change up the move to match the mood of the music, explain the lyrics, talk about options of expression, talk about the musical genre and how the dance in this genre should differ from the dance in that other genre we learned last week, etc.

    So when you do all that, you won't be able to cover as much choreography in an hour or hour and a half class as you would by just throwing moves on people's faces and expecting them to learn as fast as possible. However, that is probably better for them anyway... it'll give their brains time to absorb and work on the material in-depth. The whole point of learning choreography in class is to put technique into practice, absorb concepts of musicality, work on transitions, etc... unless the choreography is meant to be performed (which most class choreographies aren't), these goals should trump the goal to memorize one full 3-5 minute choreography as quickly as possible (and if the choreography IS going to be performed, then many classes will need to be spent on polishing it anyway).

    So I think the 90-second choreography is a great idea. It doesn't even have to be a 90-second song, you can just choreograph part of a song and move on to a different song next time.

  10. #20
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yame View Post
    Choreography is a great teaching tool if you know how to use it well... and it can also be a huge hindrance if you don't.

    THIS! Man, I wish somebody would write a book I know I wasn't using it well, and I'm sorry for my poor students who were part of the earlier experiments.

    So I think the 90-second choreography is a great idea. It doesn't even have to be a 90-second song, you can just choreograph part of a song and move on to a different song next time.
    Yeah, one of the things I'd like to do is rip out 90 seconds of some of the most popular Um Kalthoum songs (or would that be sacrilege?) -- so the students have a basic understanding of the primary themes and phrases in that part of the music, have a sense of what that kind of music sounds like versus the older folky stuff, and would be able to recognize "Oh that's Inta Omri" when they hear those musical themes in other versions of the songs.

    I figured I'd start with those 10 or 15 songs every dancer should know CDs. Or just pick the top 10 Kalthoum songs and TRY to slice out a section that makes sense and still connects back to the whole. It's too bad nobody's already done this commercially because I would have bought that years ago.

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