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  1. #1
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    Default Reasonable bellydance fitness class expectations for students?

    Hello!

    How would you address a bellydance fitness students who continues to ask you for performance-related tips and advice during/after class? I have a student that does this, and I've explained that the technique taught in class is safe (because that is my top priority, along with getting an effective and fun workout), but is not what I would actually do on stage. Sometimes during class she gets frustrated, sighs and stops moving, says she doesn't get it, and expects me to stop leading the workout and break down the movement again. I've encouraged her, let her know that she's getting better and to keep doing the moves at home (I started assigning homework too), told her to not get hung up on being perfect because the purpose of the class is to have a fun and effective workout that is bellydance-inspired - not the actual art of bellydance - because many of the moves that we do are more exaggerated than what we do on stage.

    I've said several times that the art of bellydance is much deeper, that in my performance classes they would learn about rhythm, musicality, improvisational and performance skills, cultural understanding, etc. I've explained that learning the technique and refining that technique is very different from taking a dance fitness course that only exposes you to the basic concepts of bellydance movement and very superficially to the music (because I use many classical Egyptian techno remixes for this class to keep a certain pace going). I feel like I am going around in circles with this student, and though she seems to be having a fun time and asking about the next session, my words don't seem to be registering with her. What do you think are reasonable expectations for dance fitness students to come away with from such a class? How would you stress to students that dance fitness and learning an art form are two different things?

  2. #2
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    My sympathy to you.

    "Dance fitness and learning an art form are two different things" should sum it up, but some people...

    Start with that statement, add, "This class is for fitness and fun only. If you want to learn the art form sign up for (fill in the blank with appropriate class name)."

    Repeat as needed with pleasant smile, remaining in motion at all times

  3. #3
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    I was going to tell you off for not breaking down the moves until I read that it was a fitness class with a bellydance theme.

    There's no one right answer for this and you're doing the best you can right now, I think. In addition to Shan's suggestion, how about offering her private bellydance lessons since she wants to work on technique so badly? It'd be a shame to lose someone who wants to dance because she's in the wrong class. (not with the wrong teacher - but she's definitely in the wrong class if she's there for bellydance instead of fitness!)

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the response so far! Now that I think about it, I guess my more specific question would be: how *much* breakdown of technique do you think is actually necessary for a fitness class (that is, beyond the safety basics)? For example, I always stress the tucked pelvis and navel engaged towards the spine in order to protect the lower back, feet parallel and inside their shoulder-width, and lifted chest/collarbone/ribcage. I tell them what muscles specifically to engage (glutes, quads, transverse abdominis, etc. - always proper anatomical names) and give them several visualization techniques to help them activate those muscles.

    But...and just an honest question...is it really my problem as a dance fitness teacher if this student is still having difficulty isolating her shoulders for shoulder shimmies (one of her big issues that I've addressed several times)? Is it really my problem if she keeps lifting her heels off the floor during Mayas when I always remind the class to send their energy down through their feet into the floor and to NOT lift their heels, to use their obliques and bending-straightening of the knees to achieve the movement? I'm just curious how much I should consider myself responsible for getting across to her as far as her technique, and when I should just be like, "Well, this isn't a stage technique/performance class, you should take my other class/workshop instead"?? I'm just not sure that it's entirely my duty to make sure that she can effectively isolate her shimmies (definitely safely, though). It isn't my duty or interest in this class to address people's sloppy arms or hands, but I am committed to safety, and she is not doing them in a way that will hurt her, so I've done my job on that part. I don't want to be dismissive of her frustration, but I also don't want to stress myself out over something that may not be my responsibility to address in the context of a dance fitness course.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva View Post
    I was going to tell you off for not breaking down the moves until I read that it was a fitness class with a bellydance theme.

    There's no one right answer for this and you're doing the best you can right now, I think. In addition to Shan's suggestion, how about offering her private bellydance lessons since she wants to work on technique so badly? It'd be a shame to lose someone who wants to dance because she's in the wrong class. (not with the wrong teacher - but she's definitely in the wrong class if she's there for bellydance instead of fitness!)
    Last edited by WestCoastWiggle; 06-15-2013 at 11:50 PM.

  5. #5
    Member Munniko's Avatar
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    I agree with Darshiva and Shanazel on this. Is there not an "actual" belly dance class that isn't fitness focused that she isn't taking? I mean we have a fitness class in our studio geared towards fitness and I've never really seen the instructors have this problem. The current instructor will break down the moves if someone has indicated that they have never taken belly dance before just so that it remains safe. Our class though is primarily focused on a mix of cardio and toning for belly dance purpose. Which I think is a reasonable expectation for a themed fitness class, working the muscle groups that are heavily involved in belly dance is a plus.

    I would either offer her another class choice where the technique part is covered or tell her to come to you before class starts, during water breaks, etc. just not when the whole entire class is going and she wants it to stop.

  6. #6
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    Hi Munniko! To answer your question, my class is part of a program that includes a nutrition portion, so it is actually meant specifically for weight loss and people that want to set and reach realistic weight loss goals. So what brought her in originally was a combination of both the weight loss support plus the bellydancing portion. My class has never been advertised as anything but dance fitness, so not sure why she would expect to learn performance-level bellydance in such a program, but I can't hold her desire to learn against her either...



    Quote Originally Posted by Munniko View Post
    I agree with Darshiva and Shanazel on this. Is there not an "actual" belly dance class that isn't fitness focused that she isn't taking? I mean we have a fitness class in our studio geared towards fitness and I've never really seen the instructors have this problem. The current instructor will break down the moves if someone has indicated that they have never taken belly dance before just so that it remains safe. Our class though is primarily focused on a mix of cardio and toning for belly dance purpose. Which I think is a reasonable expectation for a themed fitness class, working the muscle groups that are heavily involved in belly dance is a plus.

    I would either offer her another class choice where the technique part is covered or tell her to come to you before class starts, during water breaks, etc. just not when the whole entire class is going and she wants it to stop.

  7. #7
    Member Munniko's Avatar
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    Ah then that is definitely explains a lot (not the what the class is focused on, but why she is asking so many questions) I would just give her more appropriate times to ask questions, mainly just not when you are leading the class.

  8. #8
    Moderator Darshiva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestCoastWiggle View Post
    Thanks for the response so far! Now that I think about it, I guess my more specific question would be: how *much* breakdown of technique do you think is actually necessary for a fitness class (that is, beyond the safety basics)? For example, I always stress the tucked pelvis and navel engaged towards the spine in order to protect the lower back, feet parallel and inside their shoulder-width, and lifted chest/collarbone/ribcage. I tell them what muscles specifically to engage (glutes, quads, transverse abdominis, etc. - always proper anatomical names) and give them several visualization techniques to help them activate those muscles.

    But...and just an honest question...is it really my problem as a dance fitness teacher if this student is still having difficulty isolating her shoulders for shoulder shimmies (one of her big issues that I've addressed several times)? Is it really my problem if she keeps lifting her heels off the floor during Mayas when I always remind the class to send their energy down through their feet into the floor and to NOT lift their heels, to use their obliques and bending-straightening of the knees to achieve the movement? I'm just curious how much I should consider myself responsible for getting across to her as far as her technique, and when I should just be like, "Well, this isn't a stage technique/performance class, you should take my other class/workshop instead"?? I'm just not sure that it's entirely my duty to make sure that she can effectively isolate her shimmies (definitely safely, though). It isn't my duty or interest in this class to address people's sloppy arms or hands, but I am committed to safety, and she is not doing them in a way that will hurt her, so I've done my job on that part. I don't want to be dismissive of her frustration, but I also don't want to stress myself out over something that may not be my responsibility to address in the context of a dance fitness course.
    It does sound like you should say to her 'look, you're obviously interested in learning actual bellydance, this is when my class is on, consider switching over to it instead, you'll get a lot more out of it.'

  9. #9
    Senior Member Duvet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darshiva View Post
    It does sound like you should say to her 'look, you're obviously interested in learning actual bellydance, this is when my class is on, consider switching over to it instead, you'll get a lot more out of it.'
    You're clear that you are not teaching performance technique in this class, so the only answer is - "If you are interested, I run another class that covers what you are after", or offer her private tuition. She might never get the technique, but at least she'll be in a class where you are meant to be focusing on it, rather than distracting you away from the other fitness class members.

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