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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Default Teaching more than just dancing...

    Spin of from the Zack thread. I'm paraphrasing:

    Charity wrote:
    but no we havent learned anything about the dance history, just learning choreography for a performance. we just have fun with it, i really enjoy the class. just last nite we did so much practice on each individual move i was hurting by the time i got home.

    in the beginning she basically laid it out for us though. she said- and i accept- that hey what we like we take from here and there. thats why its called ethno fusion.


    and

    right now i know i will never perform, if i did i would definitely take the history and culture more seriously.

    my teacher does allow room for questions and answers. she is very good about that. but again, she accomodates to us and what we want out of the class, she even had us fill out a questionnaire and she goes off of that as to what will be incorporated into the class.



    And A'isha posed the question:

    If you were learning, say, ballet, or math, or pottery, or any other thing, would you expect the instructor to tailor the class to your desires or to teach you what is important and what you need to know as a person who wants to learn the subject?

    and Taheya said:

    i can see what you mean about this style of teaching may be 'meeting the demands of the students' at the same time it is superficial and you really are not getting the whole story, so your teacher is doing you a disservice.

    and Shanazel said:


    I have some sympathy for the view held by Charity's teacher, which apparently includes the truth of supply and demand. She is supplying a service, to put it in the most unromantic terms, and the women paying for this service would not pay for it if she offered something they didn't want, that is to say a serious cultural experience in belly dance.

    So now we're up to speed here.
    Last edited by Aziyade; 04-11-2007 at 03:17 PM.

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    So here's my thought. As a teacher I feel it's my repsonsibility to not only make the class fun, but to also make it a real DANCE class and not just an exercise class. My goal for my students is to get them to really feel like they can DANCE as a means of personal self-expression.

    I'm not training performers right now. Just people who want to be able to have FUN with dance.

    I have to sneak in a bit of exercise here and there, to get them to manage stomach control or sharpening and speeding up shimmies and hip work, and I'm trying to introduce them to four basic rhythms.

    But the catch is, I have four hours (sometimes five hours) a MONTH -- one hour a week -- to teach them what I think is important. And in my estimation, pretty much EVERYTHING is important. So how I decide what gets taught first? You know?

    In beginner classes we spend a lot of time on posture and alignment. We drill single isolations and work steps into combos. We do upper body "musical interpretation" to ney taqsims, along with a gentle warmup and cooldown. I teach a couple of new "moves" each week, and we review old ones.

    That doesn't leave much room for anything else.

    I once asked (and I may revive that thread) how long your beginner sessions last. I guess a better question would be this:

    How long do you teach a new beginners class, and what are your students supposed to have learned in that time? (movements, music, rhythms, culture, etc.)

    Charity -- can you tell us how long you've been taking classes with this teacher? I think that might make a difference in how we view it. Thank you!

    Keeping in mind that we often have to repeat things numerous times before students remember them, how much can we hope to teach in a month or 3 months or 6 months?

    I recognize that if students stick with you for more than 3-4 months, they're likely to stick with it a year. And if they stick with it a year, they're likely to stick with it for 2 years, etc.

    So if you have a 4-week class, with no guarantees that your students will sign up for another 4-weeks, what do you want those students to walk away with? What kind of info do they need?

    I'm thinking of having an "exit speech" at the end of each 4-weeks, just to make sure my students realize that bellydance isn't about sex or turning on the boys or whatever. And that they know this is a gift we have been given by people who aren't always free to dance like we are, and so we should cherish that gift. That's, at the very very least, what I want my ladies to walk away with.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Teaching etc.

    Dear Aziyade,
    I found the 8 week time line to be a problem, too, so my beginning class is a year long. Some people come and go. I started out with about 17 in September,when the session actually starts. Right now I have about 12, MOST of whom started in September.
    My beginners get lots of drilling on fundamental movements and the dynamics of posture. They get introduced to rythms and sagat. They learn a choreography to Beledi rythm... and then they learn it again with finger cymbals!! (That way they are not trying to learn movement while learning to play!) We discuss how the music and the dance are the same thing. They watch videos of dancers in the style they are learning, and then in styles they are not learning, in order for us to look for differences, etc. They get cultural info and anecdotes liberally sprinkled throughout. They get GOSSIP about Fifi and Suheir, and other big stars because I want dancers to be human to them. This dance is after all, a most human dance form.
    I have no "intermediate" class at all. I have beginning and continuing classes only. In continuing belly dance, we get a LOT more formal cultural info than we get in beginning, but there is still no reason why it can't be fun! The dance itself is a LOT about fun! Both continuing and beginning are very flexible and I can move along at a pace that best suits the class.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  4. #4
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    Hi Aziyade,
    nice idea to spin off from the Zack thread in this way. I just read the entire thread (haven't been able to do much forum-reading lately) and I think what A'isha said in the final posts is a great way to teach.

    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar
    I do point out that the beginner student may not necessarily care what the cultural background of the dance is, but that it is possible to give them a continual feed of information in small doses,and in fun ways. Cultural knowledge and fun can and do go hand in hand. Cultural knowledge does not have to be given out in some serious lectural tone, but can be taught as part of the dance from the beginning. What is it about the word "knowledge" that tends to make people think that something of a drag is about to happen? You can be a responsible teacher and still have fun, and make the classes fun for your students. I think the best teachers do! Not only that, but some of the most fun people I have ever met are Arabs, and there are many cultural anecdotes to share with a class that gives them a taste for who the people are and what the dance is.
    My teacher does this also and it works very well for everyone. Information in terms of cultural background, music, dance styles, etc. that you do need if you want to become educated about the dance or become a pro are (if the time is right) given in more elaborate explanation, but most is given in during class or whenever a subject comes up, in small doses, and in ways which seem to get even the most uninterested students to learn from.

    In beginners, she teaches moves, works on correct alignment and posture, drills technique and isolations, works the moves into combinations and lets the students explore those themselves in a bit of free improv time. My teacher does however make very clear where the moves come from, which style etc. She slips in facts and bits of info about those styles, the moves, the music that is played, ways of expression and so on. It is, like A'isha said, taught as a part of the dance.

    People seem to learn anyway: the ones that are just there for the fun of it and the excercise seem to like hearing it, and the ones that are really interested are able to get all the information they want/need. Everyone is free to ask questions, ask for more information, or for example get recommendations for resources to learn about the dances more in depth.

    This way I feel she does both the dances AND the students justice, it's a big advantage. We know what we are doing, we know where it's coming from and misconceptions are dismantled early on.

    The ethno-fusion thing Charity talked about in the Zack thread made me think about the entire thing. It might be easier and "suit the student's needs" and I kind of see Shanazel's point on this, but here's my view:

    I've been dancing with this woman (teacher described above) for 4 years now, and having been to a lot of workshops and courses with other teachers along the way, I've come to realise that I am blessed with a very generous, giving teacher.
    Some just leave out the info and teach only moves, some teachers don't teach moves they use onstage or things that make their style characteristic. I could give even more examples of what many people do or don't do.
    I've discovered that if I am not informed of what it is I'm learning, I am really not learning. This goes for the more-established styles of Oriental dance (whether it is, say, Lebanese ŕ la Nadia Gamal, American Cabaret or Turkish Rom), but also for fusion. How can one learn any fusion and say it is fusion if it is unclear what is fused? IMO a dance is a dance by what makes this dance characteristic in ways of cultural feeling, background and the context of movement. It is not a dance because someone just happens to state it is this or that. Especially if one teaches dance, one needs at least to be able to explain WHAT it is they're doing and know what makes the dance what it is.

    I've started to teach a beginners class recently, by filling in for my teacher every now and then. I have learned a lot from her and use this method as well. I hope this will help me become a good teacher one day.

    Oops.. long post, what can I say? This subject just gets to me.
    Last edited by Yshka; 04-11-2007 at 04:35 PM.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    My opinion is this:
    If someone wants exercize better go to a gym
    I dont accept students unless they are determine to LEARN the dance.
    Thats why 60% of my students at my begining class have behind them 2-3 years with other teachers and they have reached a wall that they cant pass.
    Both cases, begingers with no teaching before and beginers with experience find the beginer class, begining as I do total different style (arabian) and teaching with a total different concept.
    For privite lessons they have to book 20 to accept them, and now have a waiting list for next November.
    The beginer class is 10 months. Nope they dont stay all, but I dont mind, I just love to teach the ones that stay at the end. But its 12 hours per month.
    At the end of the year they know:
    All the basic movements, basic combinations, to recognize (and give it a try to dance) Baladi, Saidi, Saaby. They learn traditions and cultural things.
    Basic veil, assaya and geometry of choreography is included.
    They know Fifi, Mona, Nagua, Suheir, Dina, to recognize the other styles beside arabian.
    After the 1st class its a continuation.
    I know they say I'm a bitch lol, but at least we are bitches united in the love of oriental dance.

    Maria Aya

  6. #6
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    I have to post again lol, I agree with what A'isha has stated above. We do have an intermediate group. After this class we also have an advanced/continuing class in which special skills are adressed, different styles are explored more in depth, and sagath are introduced (in the Netherlands sagath are mostly introduced after a few years of dance). Advanced gets more information than beginners as well, though it's still fun.

    All beginners classes learn choreography. All groups get sessions for watching video material and receiving more information about the dance and all that comes with, everyone is free to attend but most do.

    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar
    They get cultural info and anecdotes liberally sprinkled throughout. They get GOSSIP about Fifi and Suheir, and other big stars because I want dancers to be human to them. This dance is after all, a most human dance form.
    My teacher does this too. It's part of the fun also, don't you think ?
    I guess it's not hard to tell that I am happy with my teacher huh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maria Aya
    I know they say I'm a bitch lol, but at least we are bitches united in the love of oriental dance.
    Amen
    Last edited by Yshka; 04-11-2007 at 05:39 PM.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A'isha Azar View Post
    My beginners get lots of drilling on fundamental movements and the dynamics of posture. They get introduced to rythms and sagat. They learn a choreography to Beledi rythm... and then they learn it again with finger cymbals!! (That way they are not trying to learn movement while learning to play!)
    OMG, that is a brilliant idea. Brilliant!


    Dear da Sage,
    Thank you. I LOVE to teach. I feel that it is really the most important thing I do in the dance, though I am a performer, artistic, director of a dance company, costumer, researcher, and writer. My whole premise in teaching is to look at what is good for the dance and what is good for the student. What will be the easiest way for them to do all of the zillion things they must learn to do in order to became a dancer? I call my teaching method Student Awareness Based Teaching. I take the time to really try to figure out what will be the most beneficial way to present material to my students, and then experiment with it until I get it right! That method of learning cymbals seems to be more effective than other methods I have tried.
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 04-11-2007 at 07:57 PM.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yshka View Post
    All groups get free sessions for watching video material and receiving more information about the dance and all that comes with, everyone is free to attend but most do.
    I love this idea, too.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    What should be offered in a beginning bellydance class? My opinion:

    Basic posture and dance movements.
    Warm up and strengthening exercises, to prepare for dance.
    Information about the local dance community and events.
    Exposure to authentic Middle-Eastern music.
    Real mastery of some basic movements, and positive reinforcement so that the students feel confident in dancing them.
    Exposure to some less basic movements and layering, so that even beginner students get a sense of the complexity of the dance.

    I think those are the bare bones. Much can be added, but omitting any one of these basics is a real disservice to the student.

  10. #10
    Moderator Yshka's Avatar
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    LOl, I noticed I made a mistake, the video sessions are not FOR free they are free to be attended however. The sessions are a part of the class schedule like the other classes. just wanted to add. I like Da Sage's plan of what should be taught in beginners. They are most of the things a class should offer IMO.

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