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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    Default General Experience in Workshops

    Hi there

    Reading the thread about the level of students in workshops started thinking some things and came up with this thread lol (seems that its a cool day today and not running around... yet lol)

    So, from my crazy long experience in workshops + 70 now, just some general observations that might are helpfull for students and teachers and dancers.

    First of all for me I divide the workshops depending of the background of the teacher. Seems that is very important.

    So:

    Arab teachers living in arab world:
    From my experience at 95% there is no break down of any movement, its granded that you have a level in dance and special at arabic style of dance.
    There are 2 basic categories of how to teach choreo's (usual the workshops are choreo's that give the movements of a style).
    The first is the classic way the teacher gives a musical-movement phrase and repeat and proceed, the second is the known arabic system of "follow my butt" lol. Which means that teacher start to dance and you got to follow him/her. It may seem wierd, but gives the inside of the arab dance since its based on the communication movement-music.
    Till now for me the 5% of breaking down movements to the point you cant get it more is Mahmoud Reda, Farida Fahmy, Suha Azar and Mohamed Shahin.

    Arab teachers living abroad
    Here they have in general a very good system of teaching, breaking down info, giving advice etc, also there is a good level of communication in the language.
    My fav are Hossam Ramzy (ok he is my favorite anyway lol) for his musical interpretation workshops and understanding arab music and he is an experience by his own, Khaled Mahmoud (privite lessons with him are Heaven on Earth) and Yousry Sharif, and I've heard the best for Momo Kadous

    Big names
    Well.... you can get from the best to the sh...
    Ohh my they can be moody !!!! Dont want to share stories here.
    When I decide to go to a BIG name workhsop, i'm prepared to learn more about the person than the dance. And its not bad, cause we can actual learn many things about how to evolve as dancers and professionals.
    Of course there are the great ones also, as Reda and Fahmy

    American Instructors
    In 90% extremly teqnical aproach of the dance, and the choreo.
    I prefer them when I want to learn something in details.
    What is missing on my opinion is that the very teqnical aproach takes away the heart and the soul of the dance.
    BUT... on my opinion American Instructors are the best if you wanna study Tribal. And the soul is there !!!

    European Instructors
    We are the crazy ones !!!! lol
    An experience by its own.
    You never know what you are gonna be getting.
    It may be the best it may be the worst, but you are gonna have fun lol
    Subjects that you can get:
    Astrobellydance, Explore your inner self with bellydance, BellyYoga, BellyReiki but ofcourse all the arab styles and all the international styles of bellydance.
    My fav is Chryssanthi, that have the ability to explain the difficult things and make them easy to get, and Serkan because of his personality and patient in class.

    So from all different teachers we can gain things.
    Even from workshops that we dont like 100% we can learn what not to do !!!

    Maria Aya
    The workshop investigator

  2. #2
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    Default my investigations added

    Ah, nice topic, and I agree with you in many things you say. Just would like to add ( after 12 years of taking workshops) that
    Arabic teachers living in arab world

    Do not expect to learn a choreo, do not even ask for it. Many dance "out of the feeling" as they say and do not know the word "step" - everything is just dancing to what you hear. Music is very important and always has to be very loud, meaning that the 'feeling' can also come through the floor, too. Bring ear plugs and keep quiet, study the style and emotions, forget everything else and dance, dance... Possibly they bring their drummer, which means that
    it is more fun, but for shy students he is actually like live audience and can be looking at you very intensively,which may effect you studies. Also, be prepared, make you warm-up before the class and do not expect the teacher to do it, applies to cool-down, too. She/he also uses breaks when he/she feels that there is a good time for a cigarette, not because your face are red and you need a drink. So go for your water bottle when you need it. Exception Farida Fahmy, you do it when she allows. Usually, there is not so much discussion, because of the language problem, the only way is the
    body language.


    Arabic teachers living abroad

    The workshop can have a teaching 'structure' and there is a choreo available. Sometimes also steps (difficult ones) are studied carefully, but normally the first part of the song gets the whole attention, and the rest is then left for
    you to decide. Not for all, but seems to happen often, so be prepared, and ask if the time flows that how long is the song. I think also these teachers prefer to use different music to teach the styles more than exact choreos, and I like it, too, but for many studends the 'getting to the result' that is
    to finish the choreo is more important. So discuss about this, if not written in the workshop description. Typically, you are not allowed to take a video.

    Big names

    These workshops are only for seeing the big star, at least mainly, because normally you hardly see. Typical things to happen: workshop cancelled, or late, dance style can be other than was promised, long pauses for smoking in between (and you are paying for that, too), and it can finish just at the point the star thinks it is over. When you are lucky, you get a full course and you can see some characteristic, signature steps. Watch out for these, try to
    focus on them, not on your neighbors elbows. Do not try to count steps, try to pick why a the step is different on her/him than on the others. It can just be a hint of smile, an finger pointing, anything...and this is the opportunity to
    see foot/knees which are not covered with a glamous dress. Just let the
    experience be as it is, do not try too much yourself.

    American instructors

    I've only had a few(actually, count is three). The biggest difference for me was that they allow and want to participants to have a continuing discussion.
    I am not used to it, locally here and in other workshops we stay quiet. Maybe this is not the case for all workshops, it did really bother me when all others talked about their life and my capabilities at the same time we were learning a choreo. But yes, a lot of using the mirror to make the steps perfect and
    the positions (how you look) were also clearly pointed out. How to look cute,
    sad or angry were also on learning plan. Also, the participants dress for
    the workshops like they would be performing.

    European instructors

    I can comment on workshops by german, french, spanish, danish, swedish and
    finnish instructors)

    Focus is as defined in the workshop agenda. If you are about the learn steps, you learn them very much in depth and if for choreo, you are supposed to learn it so well that you can do it after by yourself. The steps are repeated many times and you you learn the choreo well, because it does not change during the repetitions. You can discuss, ask and comment, because there is the joint language. But it may also feel like on exercise, you work hard and
    concentrate, may happen that you forget to dance and enjoy.You can take video and use the choreo for teaching purposes afterwards.

    Concluding, every workshop is different, and you can get a lot out of it.
    You just need to adjust yourself to allow it to happen, what is going on.
    If you do not, or if you expect different things, you may be disappointed.
    But open mind, a full water bottle and some humour help a lot, and all
    workshops teach you something, as Maria_Aya said.

    Happy workshopping

    Tuija

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks Ladies for yor perspective, very helpul.
    Yasmine

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    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Workshiop, etc.

    Dear Group,
    As long as we remember that these are very general statements, I can agree with Aya. I can think of exceptions to each of these rules.

    Nadia Hamdi taught on a more technical level than most big name Arab dancers. We do have to remember that we get to study with big name dancers who are NOT teachers, but performers, and we have to take a different approach to the class. Also, there is a certain method of teaching used in Middle Eastern countries that is much like what used to be used here in the States in schools, where you repeat and memorize, and integrate information this way instead of breaking it down.

    Kay Artle was a pretty technical teacher and she is from Sweden, if I remember correctly. She used to teach Egyptian belly dance and was fantastic at it!! Ms. Artle is now involved with the Hilal method, I believe.

    My first two instructors were Arab dancers living abroad here in the States. One was much more technical than the other!

    Shareen El Safy is an American who teaches the guts of the dance as much as the technical aspects. I hope that I am this kind of teacher also. We are both American.

    Big Name teachers- I have also found a really mixed bag. There are many big names I would not walk accross the sreet to take a class with, because for them it is all about packing a hundred people in a room and getting a whole bunch of money for no indiviudal attention or caring if you actually get what they are teaching. Exceptions to this rule that I have studied with are Nadia Hamdi, Shareen El Safy, Mouna Said who will explain if asked and who also will occasionally point out that someone is doing something really well, Cassandra Shore, Kay Artle, Aisha Ali who gives you the human beings behind the dances. There are more but these are the ones who come to mind right now. I have studied with about a hundred instructors by now and I get pickier and pickier.

    Not so big name instructors that I think are even better than teachers than a lot of the big names:
    DaVid- Egyptian
    Jennet- Turkish and Tunisian
    Jeanette Cool- Egyptian
    Shakira from Ohio- Fusion, American Oriental
    Hallah Moustafa- Egyptian, Samri
    Feiruz of California- Egyptian

    Regards,
    A'isha

  5. #5
    Member Kiraze's Avatar
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    For European instructors I would rather agree on Tuija´s view than Maria´s, but as Europe is culturally so divided place it is difficult to really distinguish "European style" but to me it definately looks as Northern and Central European teachers (especially German and Scandinavian)are very technical and very precice... but so are those few Southern European I have studied with (Spanish and Italian - of Greek I yet have no experience unless Rhea can be counted as one... she for sure was lots of fun ). Also I think that technical approach is quite typical to all western or should I say "non-middle-eastern" teachers as that seems to be the approach also in Australia and Asia.

    In fact sometimes I really miss less technical approach at some workshops - sometimes it is just fun and even more educative to follow the bouncing butt and maybe chat about interesting things

  6. #6
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    This forum is so great for opinions from many different parts of the world!

    I agree with the points raised by both Maria and Tuija and I can confirm A'isha's view of Mona Said.

    I've found that teachers from other European countries, in general, know far more about the background, music, culture than the vast majority of UK teachers. Some UK teachers never perform to Arabic music, for instance.

    Of the Egyptians I love Mahmoud Reda and Farida Fahmy for their discipline and knowledge, Khaled Mahmoud for his wonderful choreographies and sweet nature, Mohammed Khazafy for his updated Reda verve and Lubna for her sheer energy and Saidi madness!

    European teachers who spring to mind as great workshop teachers are Nabila and Reyhan from Germany, Hannele Lindgren from Finland, Zeina from Sweden and Michelle Galdo from Norway.

    I've taken about 5 workshops with Jillina but by the last one I was finding her choreography not challenging enough (I suspect she'd dumbed it down for the UK) and I wasn't learning anything new.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Workshops

    Dear Suheir,
    I find that I can not always attend workshops to learn something new, especially if the workshop is Egyptian or Gulf. I usually am just extremely picky about who I will study the dance with, and I attend only when I feel that the instructor may have something that I want to learn from a different perspective. I do not usually go thinking that there is anything really new for me learn, especially if I am taking classes with the same people over and over again. ( Personally, I think repeating a workshop with the same instructor is the best way to get what they have to offer on a deeper level.) I go instead with the idea that I will get a more in depth experience with what I know already, or a different twist on a old theme. The movements and cultural and psychological concepts in belly dance are finite and eventually you run out of movements and explore them in depth instead of learning new ones,
    Regards,
    A'isha

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    Dear Suheir,
    I find that I can not always attend workshops to learn something new, especially if the workshop is Egyptian or Gulf. I usually am just extremely picky about who I will study the dance with, and I attend only when I feel that the instructor may have something that I want to learn from a different perspective. I do not usually go thinking that there is anything really new for me learn, especially if I am taking classes with the same people over and over again. ( Personally, I think repeating a workshop with the same instructor is the best way to get what they have to offer on a deeper level.) I go instead with the idea that I will get a more in depth experience with what I know already, or a different twist on a old theme. The movements and cultural and psychological concepts in belly dance are finite and eventually you run out of movements and explore them in depth instead of learning new ones,
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Yes, I just felt Jillina'ed-out! I agree about taking the same workshop twice, I've done that with Lubna and got just as much, if not more, out of it the second time. Sadly, there seem to be many people who take one one-and-a-half-hour workshop in a subject and think "been there, done that" and never do it again. Some of them even *teach* a subject after taking one workshop in it, aaargh!

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Workshops, etc.

    Dear Suheir,
    I understand!! I think also that sometimes we go into the first workshop thinking a dancer is fabulous, but as we learn more about the dance, we get a different idea of what they are really offering. By workshop # 3 or 4, it is really sinking in that there is more to it than the instructor is able to identify or pass along. I have been fortuante enough to have this happen only once, but I know the feeling.
    Yes, we have some of those one class wonders in my town. There is one woman who has been dancing elss than 5 years ( a fact that is nowhere in her pro0motional materials) and her resume looks like she has been dancing two lifetimes because of all the things she lists that she is teaching. I know she did not take more than one or two classes in most of that stuff!! I pity her poor students, who in the end receive even less education than she has as their introduction to the dances of the Middle East. But.... it does explain a lot.
    Regards,
    A'isha

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