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  1. #1
    Junior Member desertdaughter's Avatar
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    Would like to hear your opinion on this...

    Hi, since two of my friends, who are also members of this forum, told me that people here friendly and helpful and that I should post what happened to me, I decided to do that and would now be interested in your opinions and advice...

    Ok then: I am teaching BD for many years now and something like the following hasn't happened to me so far.
    It all started with one of my students asking me if I also would like to teach at the suburb where she is living. Until then I was mainly teaching at my home based studio but since many people here in and around our area are not really willing to drive, even to the next suburb, I thought it might be worth a try.
    I was able to organize a hall in that student's suburb and she told me, she already had been asking around and that many people there would be interested and waiting to start... but as it turned out I ended up with only three "regulars" and one or two "on and off's" each time. I hardly got enough money to cover the rent for the hall, I even had to pay "on top" for one lesson. One of the "on and off" students even tried twice to "escape" without paying at all....I decided to stop asap but wanted to finish the term because I am usually sticking to what I said and I had to pay for the hall anyway.

    And during those last weeks this "on and off" student I mentioned above, who was also taking classes with another teacher, started telling my students about the way her other teacher was/is explaining movements and techniques. One of that other teachers methods of explaining included how to do an Umi: she wanted the students to imagine or to actually place a golf ball next to or even into their most private part, hold it there and then start to do the Umis without dropping the ball.... :eek: Maybe it's just me? but I found that really out of place...

    Sorry for that long story but I must explain how it came to the part which bothered me most.
    After finishing a term I am usually informing my students about the start and costs of the next term and ask for confirmation of participation. But I didn't hear anything back from this particular student"group" I mentioned above, even if I had offered them to continue the lessons at my studio. So I cancelled the hall and handed the keys back to the responsible guy.
    And he, suddenly, started to apologize to me for being "backstabbed" so badly from that student I mentioned before.
    At first I didn't know what he was talking about but then I found out that this student is now "running" the class at the hall. I don't know yet exactly if she herself is "teaching" or if she got her "golf teacher" to do it...
    In both cases the quality of teaching will suffer because that student is certainly not ready and experienced enough to teach others and the teaching methods of that other teacher seem to be a bit dubious and not really good for the reputation of belly dance if people should hear about them, I guess.
    As many other teachers I have worked and am still working pretty hard to help building a good reputation for BD and did put a lot of effort and money into becoming a good teacher with solid background knowledge - it simply disgusts me if someone who has no experience at all or doesn't care about the public appearance of BD goes out there and starts teaching.

    My friends said to me I should simply go to one of their lessons, sit down and watch - just to be there and to show them that I know what they are doing. What do you think about that and what would you do if you were in my shoes?

    Please don't be too angry with me for writing such a long post but I needed to get this off my chest and to hear, or better read, how others think about that.
    Thanks and lot
    Desertdaughter

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    First of all, WELCOME
    I'm half australian also born, and stayed 12 years at Melburne.
    Now about your story, first feel free to speak up whatever bothers you, this is the right place for it, and yes we all feel reliefed when we share our thoughts and problems.
    Your story is not new for none of us.
    a) about you going to another hall to teach.
    I'm strict about this, i dont go nowhere unless there is a minimum of students to do it. This way there are no bad surprises.
    b) about the "ping-pong teacher", all might have different way of teaching, so the question isnt how she teacher umi but how her student was practising it.
    c) Defently a student is not ready to teach. Dont know exactly how the system works in Australia if a bellydance teacher need permision or what? but general in the world its a mess Its wrong ethicaly, but we all cant do anything about the students that teach too soon.
    The only thing that comfort is that their "carrier" dont last long unless they become better.
    d) Honey why to lose 2 hours of your life being in a place where the only thing you will get is bad energy, and beside that nothing will change?
    Go instead at Moreton Bay and enjoy the view
    My advice
    Maria Aya

  3. #3
    Moderator Safran's Avatar
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    How horrible it is to hear those stories again and again. But this is what this forum is for - ranting, raving and getting things off your chest

    I do agree with Maria - there is no point in going to their class. They would only consider it as an act of hostility and who knows how they would react on that. You don't want to get drawn into some messy intrigues, do you. Just ignore them and concentrate on your existing, well-established classes, which I am sure you are brilliant at.

    And indeed - one day they will run short of experience and knowledge... Or, the positive word-of-mouth deriving from your classes will put things right

    Maariku

    PS: I can't understand one thing though - if the "responsible guy" felt so guilty and/or bad about the situation - why didn't he contact you earlier?!

  4. #4
    Junior Member desertdaughter's Avatar
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    Hi Maria Aya,
    thanks a lot for your reply.
    I am actually feeling the same about going there - my "gut feeling" says no and I think I will listen to it :-) even if my friends' opinion was that going there would at least show these people that I know about their betrayal. But in the end it won't change anything, and as you are implying - time is too precious. So thanks for your opinion :-)

    To your point a) - me going to that new venue to teach. Well, as I said, it only happened because my former, and now ex-student, who is befriended with that student/wanna-be-teacher "in question", really begged me to also offer a class there and kept telling me that there were many more people interested who couldn't drive to my place and blablabla. (So my biggest fault in that whole thing was believing her and being too friendly).
    I then talked to that guy who is responsible for renting out the hall, got an open time there and advertised the class. So far so good.
    My first lesson of a new course usually is an "introductory" class - the students come - they try - they decide if they want to go on or not. If they want to go on they pay for the course, if not they only pay for that one lesson and I can then see if there will be enough students to continue.
    This might sound naiv or silly but I found this is the only way it works, at least here in our area. I actually was used to a much better way then this when I was still teaching in Europe, but I had to adjust...

    Well, after that first lesson, where I had definitely enough students attending to continue the course, they all said they will be back, but only a few had enough money "on them" to pay for the following few weeks but said they will be sending the course fee or bringing it to the next class at the latest.... The second week was already not that full (but still enough to go on) - this happens here a lot - don't know if it is the same somewhere else. After that we only had three more classes left and the "trouble" began.
    Many people here don't want to commit to (meaning paying up front) a course even if it is only for 5 (as in this case),6 or 8 weeks. A lot of them only want to "pay as they go" and lots of teachers over here still seem to accept this implicitly including the full risk of having to pay for a hall but not having enough students all the time to cover the costs and earning something. But if you, as I do, are asking for the course fee up front for being sure to at least have enough money to pay for the venue over the whole course duration , you will end up with less students. I heard that from other teachers as well. I also tried the version of letting the "on and offs" pay more but it does not really work out that way either if you have to pay for a venue - this would maybe work at my own studio where I don't have to pay extra rent....

    I am quite ok with also teaching less students, actually I personally like it better because I do have much more time for each and every one of them that way, but it still should be "balanced" if you know what I mean, especially if teaching BD is you main job you and you have to earn at least enough to cover your costs. Sorry, if this might sound a bit "business like" .....but it's a fact.

    To your point c): I find it sad, that obviously so many students seem to think that it's ok to simply go out there and teach others after only a few weeks or months of learning themselves. You are right that it's difficult if not impossible to do anything about it, and I am also accepting the fact that there might be some who are really talented and acting responsible enough not to harm other students and are trying to learn more and get more exprience.... but it would be much better if they who wanted to start teaching themselves would come forward and talk to their teachers about it. I am sure that many, including myself, would be willing to help them to achieve what they would like to do and many of these nasty incidents wouldn't occur, I suppose.

    Ok, enough of that - there are so many more and so much nicer aspects of belly dancing.... :-)
    Thanks again and cheers
    Desertdaughter

  5. #5
    Junior Member desertdaughter's Avatar
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    Hello Maariku,
    also thanks to you for your reply, your opinion and advice

    I think my post to Maria Aya already explained a lot more but to your question: well, I didn't quite understand that either, why that guy didn't tell me earlier about what was going on there behind my back.

    Maybe that is because this hall is located in a very small and very "close" suburb where everybody knows everybody. And I know now that this student/wanna-be-teacher is an active member in this community with connections to the hall committee and therefore might not have needed permission to use the hall like I did nor paying anything for it. So he might not even have known about it earlier.
    I had the feeling that this guy really felt bad about it, because the word "backstabbing" didn't come from myself, he was the one using it while telling me about what was going on.

    But as I said to Maria before, I actually don't want to waste more time "investigating" what really happened....
    Right now I am starting to feel better again, thanks to you, guys and am already moving on and am preparing a new project at the moment.. :-)

    Thanks and cheers
    Desertdaughter

  6. #6
    Member Hadassah's Avatar
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    I really don't understand why there has to be so much backstabbing and just plain unprofessionalism in dance communities.
    You are being a very responsible teacher, and dignified in the way you've handled this. Your student that is now teaching is not doing herself, or the dance community any favors. By undermining you, her teacher, she is setting a precedence of hostility and competition in the community that may bleed for a while.

    I really don't see why people who are not qualified to teach feel the urge to. Sure, I could show my friends a few moves, but to call myself a teacher would be ridiculous. I have only had a little over a year of "real" experience dancing, and just now am able to perform solo and feel ok about it. These gals who feel like they have something to prove by saying - "I've had 8 weeks of lessons, a workshop, and wow- I'm a teacher!" cheapen our art. My teacher has 28 years experience in dance, and didn't become a teacher until many years after she began dancing.

    As I mentioned in another thread, if a teacher cannot instruct her student on ME culture, ethics in the dance community, and just plain common sense when dealing with other dancers and the public, perhaps she shouldn't teach. This isn't a game. If we want people to respect us and our art, then we need to be worthy of respect. You have my sympathy...

  7. #7
    V.I.P. chryssanthi sahar's Avatar
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    Dear Desertdaughter.

    I agree with Maria, Maariku and Hadassah at all points. Don't waste your time dealing with a stupid beginner, who thinks, she could teach belly dance. She will fail anyway. She cannot keep people in her class, if she has nothing to teach them. Even ignorants will notice after a while if a teacher is qualified or not.
    As about the fees for the classes, I do it this way: I always offer an 8-12 evening course for beginners and I charge the money for the entire course at the first evening in cash, before I start teaching. If people have payed, they come Of course there are always people who don't come after a while, but a big number continues to come. And if people don't come, at least I have charged the fee. If they ask for fee back, I give it only if they have come just at the first evening and never again and even in this case they have to tell me a serious reason for stepping back from the course (like sickness, moving to another place etc.) After the second evening, I don't give any fee back. If they cannot come (or don't want to come), it is their problem. It may sound hard, but how else could I survive as free lancer? So think about this system, maybe you can apply it also in Australia

  8. #8
    Moderator Amulya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chryssanthi sahar View Post
    I agree with Maria, Maariku and Hadassah at all points. Don't waste your time dealing with a stupid beginner, who thinks, she could teach belly dance. She will fail anyway. She cannot keep people in her class, if she has nothing to teach them. Even ignorants will notice after a while if a teacher is qualified or not.
    It was actually me who suggested to go over and have a look, as it might intimidate that student and shows you don't let people walk over you. But yes it might be a waste of time.
    The other thing that might happen is that this does continue (have seen so in Holland, classes like this unfortunately don't just die down, the students might leave, but new ones come in) belly dance gets a bad name in that aria. And as everybody knows each other, word of mouth will be a big thing and people will talk bad of the dance in general. It is a thing that hurts the community as a whole.
    But it happens everywhere over here in Brisbane, so it quite something that is impossible to fight.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. chryssanthi sahar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amulya View Post
    But it happens everywhere over here in Brisbane, so it quite something that is impossible to fight.
    I think you can fight it, if you are persistent enough and you do a good job as teacher (and of course also as a dancer). You just shouldn't give up.

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