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  1. #1
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    Default Performance vs. Teaching What do you think?

    Hello all,

    Here is a question that I would love to get opinions on.

    My teacher, who became ill a few years ago forcing her to close her school and end her troup was a very important woman in my life. When she left, her husband took over the school and the whole thing went to hell. I will not go into details, but lets just say it was a bad end, one which never enabled me to see her again - (i ended up dissapointing her - but her husband was a real A.....)

    Anyhow, this woman lived and breathed dance, and being nearly 60 she KNEW her field and was not just informative but passionate.

    One day when we were working out a choreography for my solo, I asked her why she had stopped dancing. She told me that after years of training and performing she had begin her own school while studying with her instructor, and one day he (yes he-wish i could remember his name but he was huge in lebanon) anyhow, he told her that soon she would have to choose between being a dancer or a teacher, but to be great at one she would have to let the other go.

    She though about what he had said and decided he was right. She stopped performing and focused only on teaching.

    Now here is the thing, SHE WAS A FANTASTIC INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN, and to date I have not found a teacher that even comes close her talents.

    So to keep my dancing going I too began to teach and still take on performance gigs here and there.

    SO NOW THE QUESTION... Can a GREAT dancer be a GREAT Teacher at the same time or do you belive her instructor's logic and think one should choose one over the other.

    I ask because I am the type of person who like and is good at anything I put my mind to and have so many abilities, I dabble in everything. But I want to be great, and I have been pondering this for a while now. If I stop performing would I become that GREAT teacher to someone that she was to me? If I stop teaching and forcus on dancing could I be that GREAT DANCER?

    Tell me what you think

    Assal

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Teach and perform

    Dear Assal,
    I have been teaching for 30 years and performing for 32. I would say it is entirely possible to do both and be really great. I am thinking of Shareen El Safy as my prime example.
    I think one of the secrets, however, is to be the master of one or two forms rather than trying to master all of them.
    For example, I have studied something like 40 different Middle Eastern dance styles. I am an "expert", if you will, really only at Egyptian belly dance and Samri and some of its off-shoots, such as raqs Nejdi hadith. I teach many different dances, such as Ghawazi, Beledi, Palestinian Debke, Egyptian belly dance. I have studied Tunisian , Moroccan and Algerian and Greek and Turkish dance as well, and can perform some of them, but do not feel truly and deeply qualified to teach most of them.
    I would rather be a master of several dances than mediocre at all of them, which generally tends to be the case when people get too spread out. There simply is not enough time to learn it all really well. I studied everything for about 8 years before I really narrowed my focus and understood where my deepest interests and talents were. I was also fortunate that my first instructors were Arabs who were both performing and teaching.
    I think we can teach and perform with "greatness", and at the same time if we have an aptitude for both. I think from what I am seeing these days, even Middle Eastern dancers from thne native countries are begnning to see that this is possible.
    Regards,
    Aisha

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Yasmine Bint Al Nubia's Avatar
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    Hi Ya Assal, Great topic! In my area, many teachers had careers in performing before they began to teach. I believe that these type of teachers have great talent and passion that was transformed into teaching. they aren't really in the forefront of obtaining "gigs", but rather put on staged programs showcasing the talents of their students. It sounds like your teacher was one of those rare jewels. Then there are performers who teach on the side to make extra money or create, a group of "adoring fans". They have very little patience or love of teaching, and they would rather search for the next "profile gig" than teach spiring dancer. Teaching and performing are both require time and committment, and to do both may be too difficult.
    Yasmine

  4. #4
    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    If you have the time to fully commit to each area as well as the talent and other skills needed I think it’s perfectly possible to achieve a greatness at each.

  5. #5
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    I agree with everyone. I teach and perform on a regular basis. I believe to do both, you must be totally committed with your time and energy to be successful.

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Lydia's Avatar
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    I do agree with most things said above,But i know dancers that are very good performers ,but in teaching it is not going anywhere....So i feel that a good performer do,s not perse make a good teacher and visa verca...I think it is inportant to realy put your mind in it and you must love teaching like you must love performing to make it realy work.......happy dancing,lydia

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default TEaching/Performing

    Dear Group,
    I think a lot of it has to do with the individual attitude and aptitude. Not all great teachers are fabulous performers and not all great dancers are good teachers. Performing and teaching are about two different things, though both are about giving and sharing. Perfomring should be first about the dances and teaching needs to be equally about the dances and the students. If either endeavour becomes first about the ego, then it is all over. This does not mean that dancers should have no ego about what they are doing, but that ego needs to be healthy and in persepctive.
    Regards,
    A'isha

  8. #8
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    Teaching and performing can also compliment each other in my opinion.

  9. #9
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    Thank you all for your advices and words of encouragement.

    Aisha, what you said really hit home on so many levels for me. Although I have not been dancing or teaching nearly as long as you, I do have the same tendency in learning a dance form well before proceeding.

    To be honnest, I love teaching but was mostly coaxed into it by people I knew who were interested in learning.

    What I can admit is that ego is not an issue for me as I am the type of person who loves to see have people around her recognized. I do feel a sense of pride when one of my pupils is complimented but they way I see it, it is their hard work and just a bit of guidance from my part.

    I guess my largest worry is that because I am so passionate and love these dance forms that I teach I always worry that if i teach poorly I may turn people off from something. To date that has not happened (thank god).

    Anyhow as it stands I still perform, not as much as before, am much more selective of what gigs I do take, and have been focusing on choreography and teaching.

    Thanks again... I guess this is one of those soul searching issues that need to be really thought through, but it is always great to get adivce.

    Assal

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Teaching/performing

    Dear Assal,
    It sounds like you have a gift for teaching. There are two articles on my website that might be of value and interest to you. Go to www.raqsazar.com and they are in the library section. "The Student/Instructor relationship in Middle Eastern Dance" and "Multiple Intelligences".
    I LOVE teaching and I agree with you that teachers are a small part of the mix when it comes to people becoming good dancers. We give them a foundation, but they build on it and become the dancers that they are!! I feel honored to be a part of that process in a small way.
    Regards,
    A'isha

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