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  1. #1
    Junior Member samra(kelly hawes)'s Avatar
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    Default Strippers as students

    To my fellow instructors:

    How do you react when you learn that one of your students is also an exotic dancer?

    I live in a small, conservative town where I am still having to fight the old stereotype that equates belly dancers to strippers. I'm not sure that I would be as concerned with this question if I lived in a more cosmopolitan city. But once in a while, a student makes it obvious that she is taking my class to learn new moves and get costuming ideas that she can use in her other job.

    I understand that I cannot dictate what professions my students select, but does this situation make anyone else uncomfortable as a teacher?

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

    Kelly Hawes

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    A couple of years ago we had an exotic dancer in the class and I suspect there were a few more. it didn't bother me in the least that they wanted to augment their repertoire with some BD moves. Ironically, the one girl didn't last long and quit shortly after. You may have an opportunity to discuss the history Of Middle Eastern Dance in general with all the students. Something long the lines of blatant sexuality vs. sensuality, intergrity of the dancer representing the art form etc. As far as costuming is concerned, you can point out the differences in costuming via visuals in addition to the expense. I can't imagine how an exotic dancer can artfully disrobe a a belly dance costume while swinging from a pole
    In the end don't discriminate against her because of her profession, you may have a potential convert.
    Yasmine

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    I've had current and former strippers in class (actually they were topless dancers -- I'm not sure if we even have actual strippers in my town). I've also had competitive ballroom dancers in class. Don't worry over what your students do when they're not in your class. If you had a performing company and thought there might be a conflict of interest, you could discuss it with her, but just having her in class -- don't sweat it. You may actually have more strippers than you know. Not all of them advertise they're strippers LOL!

    The only problem I had with my stripper students was a tendency to hold the legs too far apart and really accent pelvic and hip circles to the front. And they had wobbly horizontal figure 8's that I couldn't break them of.

  4. #4
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    What my students do outside my class is none of my business. When a student made it known to me that she is an exotic dancer, I said "cool", and got on with the lesson. And if any self-righteous conservative folks ever had the nerve to turn up protesting her presence, I'd carry a sign in defense of her right to be there. This woman was a pleasant person with a gorgeous face and a great body who made more in a month of stripping than I make in half a year of working at a law firm. There are those who would say hers was the more honorable profession .

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    It is interesting and ironic that erotic dancers/strippers have more venues and make more money than professional bellydancers who fight over limited venues for $25-$50 a set! soething is wrong with this picture and people still mistake bellydancers for strippers....duh
    Yasmine
    Last edited by Yasmine Bint Al Nubia; 02-16-2007 at 03:56 AM. Reason: typo/grammar

  6. #6
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Oh, lord, is that all a professional belly dancer makes after all these years? That really sucks. I made that much for two fifteen minute sets in 1978.
    It makes me sadder than I can say that the pay for dancers has not gone up in damned near thirty years.

    Do you suppose that is why Kaya and Sadie have evolved their dance in the somewhat questionable direction it has gone? Better money? Just for the record, I have not a thing in the world against exotic dancers who are what they are without apology, but it riles me to see belly dance presented as erotic by dancers who should know better.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 02-16-2007 at 04:26 AM.

  7. #7
    Junior Member Zandra&Zindor's Avatar
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    Default No one would be concerned even a little bit?

    Hi, everyone.

    I was with Kelly when she was typing the original question. She would not want me speaking for her, so don't even think that I am writing this with her blessing or knowledge. She might even be mad at me for stating my opinion here, since it was her question, not mine.

    I just wanted to make it clear that Kelly is probably one of the least judgmental people I have ever met. I can guarantee that no one who has interacted with her would ever suggest that she is self-righteous. She would be horribly insulted if anyone ever called her conservative, because she is about as left-leaning as a person can be without falling off the scale. She is not a woman who thinks of a strip club as a den of sin. She does not castigate topless dancers for their choice of profession, nor does she treat them as anything less than vital human beings whether or not they are her students.

    I know of at least three strippers who have taken her classes and can guarantee that she has never turned any of these women away. She talks to ALL of her students about "blatant sexuality vs. sensuality" and the "integrity of the dancer representing the art form," just as our instructor discussed the same things with us. One of the dancers in my favorite painting of hers is topless, so you can see for yourself that she is not at all bothered by female nudity.

    Unfortunately, we live in a community that won't blink an eye to see a woman walking around our beach area in a teeny-tiny bikini, but these same people will sometimes act as if a woman wearing a conservative belly dance costume is showing too much skin and might try to steal their husbands. Last July, I was at an advertised restaurant performance where a woman kept loudly ordering her boyfriend, "Don't look at her! Don't look at her! If you look at her I'll hit you." Kelly was not dancing in a sexual or seductive way, so I found that woman's behavior insulting and completely absurd.

    Kelly has worked hard to assure our community that belly dancing is a healthy, non-threatening art form and to make everyone (ESPECIALLY women) in the audience feel comfortable and valued. This has not been an easy conversion for this conservative area, but our community is finally starting to understand that belly dance is appropriate even for family entertainment. As a result, Kelly is in constant demand.

    She has had at least three strippers (possibly more) in her classes in the past couple of years and has never turned any one of them away.

    To me, her question speaks to more to the problem of the ancient stereotype that views belly dancers AS STRIPPERS and whether anyone else out there is still having to fight this perception . . . or to fight your own fears about this perception.

    Let me redirect the question in another way: If a stripper took the stage using belly dance moves that you taught that person and attire that mimicked your profession, would that make you feel the least bit uncomfortable? What if you discovered that a stripper went to a bachelor party in belly dance attire, used your moves, then took her costume off as part of the entertainment? Would that create any discomfort at all for you?

    I'm not saying that these specific events have happened to Kelly, but rather that she has probably wondered if they might happen someday. She wanted to know if she was all alone having these concerns because of our specific community.

    From the responses so far, it seems perhaps that she, alone, has these concerns, so perhaps everyone else should be very thankful for their open-minded communities.

    Again, though I am Kelly's friend and we have had these discussions between us before, I do not intend to speak for her. Rather I just wanted to voice my own interpretation as a loyal friend who thinks her question may have been misinterpreted to mean that she would not act professionally with some of her students.

    Well, I've probably mucked this whole thing up now because I've written way too much and probably interpreted everyone else's responses incorrectly.

    No harm meant.

    Zandra

  8. #8
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Dear Zandra,

    Don't apologize; perhaps you did misinterpret some responses, but that's okay- you did it with a loving heart.

    Kelly said, "I understand that I cannot dictate what professions my students select, but does this situation make anyone else uncomfortable as a teacher?"

    My answer is no, I am not uncomfortable with a stripper doing a movements she learned in my class for part of her routine. That is her business. Mine is to teach belly dance. I taught creative writing for years- it's none of my business if those people use those skills to write pornography, either. I quit trying to bring people up to my cultural standards years ago .

    What a good friend you are to have taken this subject up, though! I'm sorry if either you or Kelly thought I was passing judgement on her. It never occurred to me to do so. I am from a very small conservative town in Arkansas, and have a good idea what she means by "conservative." I have little patience with the attitude, and that is why I live here instead of there. I sympathize with anyone who has to deal with those challenges.

    Please realize that when one of us asks a question on this forum, the others answer honestly and sometimes vehemently, but the vehemence is for the subject and not for the person who posed the question.

    Shanazel
    Last edited by Shanazel; 02-16-2007 at 06:05 AM. Reason: Hey, I just broke 1000 posts! Moon, I'm catching up.

  9. #9
    Senior Member taheya's Avatar
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    I agree that teachers cannot be concerned with what their students do with the knowledge that you give them. As long as the teacher has taught the student about history/culture of the dance and how to correctly protray the dance the dance then they have done their job.
    I do however feel uncomfortable when i see belly danceresque type dancers stripping or portraying the dance in an overtly sexual way, eg. tourist hotsposts in turkey usually have dancers getting men up, taking off their shirts etc and the tourists love it!! I think people then go away thinking that was authentic dancing and that what really makes me mad

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    It's so sad people think what the strippers do is authentic bellydance...
    When they see a stripper in a nurse outfit or a fireman outfit or whatever, they also know it's just a stripper's act.
    Why can't it be just like that for bellydance?

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