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  1. #41
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Certification, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Fink View Post
    Hi Sedonia,

    Good point. There are a large number of skilled teachers who don't teach choreography either solo or group. And in a lot of ways the skilled dancer doing improv with live muscians is at the heart of our scene.

    The problem is that for certification we can't certify what we can't see and so we need concrete examples of a teachers influence on her students and the best way is to see her students performing her choreographies. We have three certifiers reviewing each application and we want to make sure that at least two of them don't know the applicant so that the process is fair.

    Helene has been following this thread and asked me to make this point. When she teaches choreography at her college the attendance stays higher than when she doesn't. For the record the first part of her class is a structured improv and the second half is choreography.

    Another reason we ask for troupe or class choreographies is that we need to see that you're able to teach your students the basic moves. Go to: Syllabus and Course Outline on our website and you will see two examples of course outlines by Shadia and Desdemona. Most of you will recognize the basic moves as variations on those you teach yourselves.

    We need to see a video of students performing their teachers choreography and doing the basic moves that she herself has taught them. This proves to us that she knows her business!

    Take care, Rick

    Dear Rick,
    If there is a point to certification in teaching, it should be that the teacher knows her business. In this business, that is not necessarily exhibited through the teaching of a choreography. Also, it takes the 50-50 equation out of the mix. In the teaching/learning mix, it is 50% the student and 50% the teacher. It is the responsibility to both to do the job.
    Am I correct that the idea of keeping students is at the heart of the choreography thing for Helene? Does that in any way affect the integrity of the dance? I do not teach choreography and manage to keep a good percentage of students, though it may not be as high. I am worried about making sure the the dance is taught in a way that maintains the feeling, essence and spirit of the dance as well as keeping it interesting for the students. I found that in teaching a choreography, there is a limitation on complexity in response to the music because a choreography can often not describe what must be done. It is too layered, to subtle and too complicated.

    Regards,
    A'isha

  2. #42
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I choreograph dances with the greatest reluctance and dislike, and then only if my students wish to do a group dance for the twice yearly dance programs held by the rec center where I teach. Individual improvisational dance is the epitome of belly dance, and I am reluctant to send my students down the super-westernized road of memorization, rote, and step-two-three-four, turn-two-three four that can become such a block to learning to react emotionally and physically to the music.

    Observing a teacher's students doing improvisational dance with the stipulation that certain moves must be included would be at least as efficient in judging how well they have learned as having them move through carefully choreographed steps.

    By the way, this is in no way intended to be a slur on those dancers who prefer to choreograph their dances down to the last breath. To each her own strengths and weaknesses.

    Shanazel

  3. #43
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    Dear A'isha,

    The main purpose of NATCMED certification is to be able to teach a credit course at a college and so we designed it in a way that it will gain acceptance into the academic world. I agree that a teacher should not have to teach group choreography if she does not want to but it's a big plus if your minimum class size is twenty five and you do class recitals every semester.

    We felt that it was important for a good teacher on the college level to be skilled at both improv and choreography. That is why we also ask for a fifteen minute video of her at a performance venue as well a a five minute video of her doing an improv.

    Teachers Miabella and Desdemona both prefer improv and are most at home dancing at nightclubs with live muscians. Teachers like Shadia or Debbie Scheel prefer choreography. Together we decided that at the college level we wanted a teacher with all of these skills.

    Take care, Rick

  4. #44
    V.I.P. Moon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Fink
    and so we need concrete examples of a teachers influence on her students and the best way is to see her students performing her choreographies.
    But a teacher can have bad luck with the students. Some students are very talented and/or practice a lot at home. Some come for a fun lesson only and won't practice as hard, and some will be stiff or have no feeling for the music. I agree a good teacher can make a huge difference, but still, some students are slower learners and that is not always the teachers fault. And what if the students make mistakes during the choreography because they are nervous? And what if a teacher isn't really that good and just let some of her most talented students perform the choreography? (Or maybe even more advanced dancers who are not her students at all!)

  5. #45
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Certification

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Fink View Post
    Dear A'isha,

    The main purpose of NATCMED certification is to be able to teach a credit course at a college and so we designed it in a way that it will gain acceptance into the academic world. I agree that a teacher should not have to teach group choreography if she does not want to but it's a big plus if your minimum class size is twenty five and you do class recitals every semester.

    We felt that it was important for a good teacher on the college level to be skilled at both improv and choreography. That is why we also ask for a fifteen minute video of her at a performance venue as well a a five minute video of her doing an improv.

    Teachers Miabella and Desdemona both prefer improv and are most at home dancing at nightclubs with live muscians. Teachers like Shadia or Debbie Scheel prefer choreography. Together we decided that at the college level we wanted a teacher with all of these skills.

    Take care, Rick

    Dear Rick,
    I have taught at a two year college and a university with no certification and the classes were not accredited. I believe that you stated these your certification course also not accredited? In what way does it entitle people to teach at a university or college? What is the benefit to the student in way of college credit or other acknowledgment academically and at what universities
    and colleges does one use the certification as a tool for getting a teaching position? Do you have arrangements with certain colleges or how does it work?
    Regards,
    A'isha

  6. #46
    V.I.P. Kharmine's Avatar
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    If someone has come up with a truly novel and effective way of teaching and wishes to be able to market that, I can see the reason for certification in that particular method.

    And I do see the point of what Rick is saying -- colleges require paper. Paper that "proves" the holder learned from a reputable and competent teacher, and can pass on that knowledge in a verifiable, concrete, consistent fashion so that it can be tested and graded.

    Problem is, there are some subjects that don't have the tradition of being passed down in an academic manner and don't lend themselves well to that kind of formal structure.

    So we wind up jumping through hoops to give colleges what they want, which feeds the erroneous notion that only subjects taught under those limitations are appropriate for the academic level. Which, in turns, strengthens the idea that one has to be "certified" or "credentialed" to teach dance. Which flies in the face of history, tradition, and, IMHO, the true essence of the dance.

    I just wonder what we could come up with that would satisfy the narrow requirements of teaching on the academic level without the false ideology of a "certification" process.

  7. #47
    Senior Member sedoniaraqs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Fink View Post
    Hi Sedonia,
    The problem is that for certification we can't certify what we can't see and so we need concrete examples of a teachers influence on her students and the best way is to see her students performing her choreographies.
    I'm not sure I follow you here. A video of several students doing improv provides a concrete example of the teacher's influence, in many ways more so, because it demonstrates that the student has not only learned technique (which should be clear in a video whether it's improv or choreo), but also that the student has learned musicality and cultural context.

    Helene has been following this thread and asked me to make this point. When she teaches choreography at her college the attendance stays higher than when she doesn't. For the record the first part of her class is a structured improv and the second half is choreography.
    This is interesting but tangential to the question. For the record, and to continue the tangent momentarily, I also teach both improv and choreo, and I have also observed that choreo can improve retention. I believe that choreo has its place because it provides a motivational construct that many students need, as do performance opportunities such as student recitals. However, what is the importance of retention? I am a college professor. If my biology classes' retention is zero, then my academic career may suffer. On the other hand if my retention is 100% but my students emerge from my biology classes not knowing biological concepts or facts very well, then retention may mean nothing. What causes students to continue or drop out of a class are varied and often unrelated to the quality of teaching the subject of interest.

    Another reason we ask for troupe or class choreographies is that we need to see that you're able to teach your students the basic moves.
    We need to see a video of students performing their teachers choreography and doing the basic moves that she herself has taught them. This proves to us that she knows her business!
    So would a video of students drilling some basic moves and combinations, followed by them doing a bit of their own improvisation, utilizing these moves.

    Also there is something else I have to say; I cannot contain it. All of the video clips on your website, with the exception of Mahmoud Reda's troupe, are very westernized versions of oriental dance, or fusions of oriental and other genres. There is nothing wrong with these dance styles, except that they are coming under the label (implicit if not explicit) of being examples of certified examples of "Middle Eastern" dance. I do not really have a huge problem with including American style belly dance as being a *part* of the larger label of "Middle Eastern", but I'd expect a certification with a general label like "Middle Eastern" to include some authentic forms. Do any of your certified instructors actually teach what can truly be called Arabic or Turkish style oriental dance, or other authentic and traditional folk dances? If so, why not show some of them on your website? If not, it seems that what you are certifiying is just one dissected part of the dance -- movement technique, and if this is the case is there a better label for it?

    Sedonia

  8. #48
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    Dear A'isha,

    The Middle Eastern Dance class that my wife teaches is accredited. The NATCMED certification was so that her department head had the necessary paperwork to offer the class.

    NATCMED certification is more like a yoga or aerobics certification.

    Take care, Rick

  9. #49
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Colleges may indeed require and produce loads of official paper, but often the main value of that paper is that if you soak it in a solution of copper sulfate and let it dry, it will then burn for several minutes with a pretty blue-green flame.

    I'm curious about qualifications for students doing the performances. Must they be only students who have never studied with another teacher so that their presentation of the dance is the sole result of study with the specific teacher seeking certification? If not, how do judges sift through what was learned from the teacher seeking certification and what was learned elsewhere? Have accredited teachers of ballet and jazz also provided student examples, and are these student examples the sole teaching product of the teacher seeking certification?

  10. #50
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    Dear Sedonia,

    You present your points well.

    The suggestions you make would all work. We could have asked for more of the teachers performances or asked for videos of her senior students performing improvs or their own choreographies. We could also ask for her history of Middle Eastern Dance.

    Our standards were arrived at by our group and we understand that others could put together their own organization with equally good but different standards. Also we never envisioned ourselves as the only organization- just a good one. Sooner or later other organizations here or in other countries could spring up and do an equally good job.

    Take care, Rick

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