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  1. #41
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    My feeling is that if you had been told from the very beginning that belly dance is a solo dance, then this is what you would have expected. My students do not expect to do belly dance in a group, so they DO get up and dance belly dance solo. This is also the example that is set for them so it is what they expect. If they need the safety of numbers, they do folkloric dance and no one is ever forced to participate as a performer.
    How do you know what I was told from the beginning? If I started your classes, then I probably would not have lasted that long. No offence intended, but I always used to start things and give them up. I can do 6 weeks of so many things

    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    I still do-wop in the background for other belly dancers and do folkloric dances with my students. So do the other professional members of my dance company. The message is that we are all at times going to be chorus instead of the prima dancer. This is necessary as well as egalitarian.
    Of course. The professional dancers my way do the same. But it is the perception when you start, not the reality that I am referring to. There are perceived hierarchies in any new group, and personally I would not want to exacerbate them in a new group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    First, on day one, no one should be asked to perform. One has to develop some skills and technique first. They should also realize that if they choose to perform, then there will be standards, and part of those standards are the realities of dancers with more experience, more skill, etc.
    Of course, here too. But the standards differ for a baby hafla, bigger hafla, community event, paid restaurant gig etc. It depends who the audience is and who you are billed as. We aren't all going to be professional. There is a place for different types of people. (I recall now that this may open the whole hafla can of worms. Here in the UK we have different haflas to the the American versions. We start at a room in a pub where the classes get together)


    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    , but if we train students from the beginning that this is a solo dance, then it seems to be much less of a problem than a lot of people think, for the student that is. The teacher, on the other hand, has to give hours of care to those individuals who are going to dance, but then.... that is part of the job description. It would be far easier to teach everyone a single choreography and be done with it, but I would also feel that I had just reinforced something that is not generally thought of as reality of the Egyptian belly dance scene. Perhaps in some styles of dance this is not such an issue???
    Regards,
    A;isha
    So I am a student, I perceive it to be a problem, but it's less of one than I think? If my teacher hadn't nurtured me, I wouldn't be sat here talking about BD now. She gives a huge amount of time; group dances are not a time-saving device. Different people need different approaches. The people who need mine, would not continue to be there if that wasn't what they were getting. Imo my teacher nurtures different people in different ways according to their need.

    Students can separate their group dancing from the more experienced soloist. It's something to aspire to.

    I'm not here trying to give some black and white, yes the teacher shalt dance with the class diatribe. There are arguments every which way and no ideal situation. Just trying to give the perspective of a student and how they might feel.

  2. #42
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Dear Karena,

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by karena View Post
    How do you know what I was told from the beginning? If I started your classes, then I probably would not have lasted that long. No offence intended, but I always used to start things and give them up. I can do 6 weeks of so many things
    You seem to have made it clear that you have been taught the group dance is where its at from the beginning........ I did not mean "YOU" as in you personally, but in a general sense. And I can speak from experience here since I have been training dancers that way for...oh, over 30 years. And if we want to get that way about it, no offence intended, but how do you know how long you would have lasted in my classes? I happen to be a pretty good teacher.


    Of course. The professional dancers my way do the same. But it is the perception when you start, not the reality that I am referring to. There are perceived hierarchies in any new group, and personally I would not want to exacerbate them in a new group.
    Neither do I.


    Of course, here too. But the standards differ for a baby hafla, bigger hafla, community event, paid restaurant gig etc. It depends who the audience is and who you are billed as. We aren't all going to be professional. There is a place for different types of people. (I recall now that this may open the whole hafla can of worms. Here in the UK we have different haflas to the the American versions. We start at a room in a pub where the classes get together)

    Yet, in all situations there should be standards of conduct, clarity about what is being presented and why, etc. This pertains ,or should, whether one is dancing in a pub in England or at the Cairo Hilton. the dance is still the dance. BTW, so do my students start at a room in a pub, because that is exactly where we do our student nights and casual dance nights. We use the same venue, different room, for professional shows twice a year.



    So I am a student, I perceive it to be a problem, but it's less of one than I think? If my teacher hadn't nurtured me, I wouldn't be sat here talking about BD now. She gives a huge amount of time; group dances are not a time-saving device. Different people need different approaches. The people who need mine, would not continue to be there if that wasn't what they were getting. Imo my teacher nurtures different people in different ways according to their need.
    It is less of a problem than you think, yes.... you know, I am somehow getting the feeling that you are looking for slight and deciding this is a personal issue rather than trying to look at the issue being discussed as a broader concept. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Actually, I HAVE heard instructors refer to group dances as a time saving device.... I also do not recall saying that your teacher does not care about you or nurture you, and yes, all people need different types of teaching, (See the article on my website in my library, "Multiple Intelligences". I have studied this at length and even written about it. I love Gardner's work!!)) However.... in the end, the dance is still the dance and it is still presented in certain ways, according to style.

    Students can separate their group dancing from the more experienced soloist. It's something to aspire to.

    Wait a minute. Were you not just saying something about not wanting to appear different from the more experienced, that there should be some sort of egalitarianism where the students are not made to feel they are different from the professionals and be made to take background roles? I am confused now.


    I'm not here trying to give some black and white, yes the teacher shalt dance with the class diatribe. There are arguments every which way and no ideal situation. Just trying to give the perspective of a student and how they might feel.
    Well..... again that would depend on what you are trying to teach. In Egyptian belly dance, there really IS an ideal situation and that is the solo dance performance. That soloist will occasionally be backed up by dancers who may be there for the entrance of the dance and then leave. Usually they are not doing the same thing as the soloist. Nagwa Fouad's group is an example of this. There is also the movie style tableau with solo dancer and often, singer, with the do-wop girls by the hundreds in the background, often not doing what the soloist or the other do-woppers are doing. IN other words, no real choroegraphy. Tahia Carioca and Samia Gamal made this kind of thing famous. I fully admit and agree that it might not be the same for Tribal or American Oriental, for example.
    Like all students, whether or not they are doing solos or group dances, many of mine feel nervous. Do they feel more nervous for one or the other? I am not sure that's the main point if we are teaching dance. It's kind of like saying that if we were ballerinas that we would let there be a line of student Claras for the student production of the Nutcracker instead of just one, so they would all feel supported. Fine, but what of the dance itself then? Does it not sort of get lost in the shuffle? It usually seems to when I see this sort of thing being done....
    Regards,
    A'isha

  3. #43
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    Dear Karena,

    You seem to have made it clear that you have been taught the group dance is where its at from the beginning........
    Not at all. I said we dance as a group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    I did not mean "YOU" as in you personally, but in a general sense. And I can speak from experience here since I have been training dancers that way for...oh, over 30 years. And if we want to get that way about it, no offence intended, but how do you know how long you would have lasted in my classes? I happen to be a pretty good teacher.
    I'm sure you are. You wouldn't be in the position you were if you weren't. But not all teachers suit all students. From what I have read I'm not sure your style would suit me. I think that's allowed. I'm sure I would drive some teachers up the wall too.




    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    Neither do I.
    I'm sure you don't. I'm explaining how it could have felt to me.





    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    Yet, in all situations there should be standards of conduct, clarity about what is being presented and why, etc. This pertains ,or should, whether one is dancing in a pub in England or at the Cairo Hilton. the dance is still the dance. BTW, so do my students start at a room in a pub, because that is exactly where we do our student nights and casual dance nights. We use the same venue, different room, for professional shows twice a year.
    Of course





    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    It is less of a problem than you think, yes.... you know, I am somehow getting the feeling that you are looking for slight and deciding this is a personal issue rather than trying to look at the issue being discussed as a broader concept. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Actually, I HAVE heard instructors refer to group dances as a time saving device.... I also do not recall saying that your teacher does not care about you or nurture you, and yes, all people need different types of teaching, (See the article on my website in my library, "Multiple Intelligences". I have studied this at length and even written about it. I love Gardner's work!!)) However.... in the end, the dance is still the dance and it is still presented in certain ways, according to style.
    It is utterly, 100%, entirely a personal view. I was explaining how I experience the issue at hand. I thought this would be of use for teachers understanding the issue from a different perspective and what makes other people tick. That is why I posted. It is not the law according to me. I don't do that nor see the value in people doing that. It is a view.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    Wait a minute. Were you not just saying something about not wanting to appear different from the more experienced, that there should be some sort of egalitarianism where the students are not made to feel they are different from the professionals and be made to take background roles? I am confused now.
    No. I was saying there are places for different approaches. In a beginner class I do not think that the advantages of singling people out outweigh the disadvantages. However, where the dancers are more advanced then they are subscribing to a more professional approach, ergo the hierarchy that is a part of professional performance comes with that.



    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    Well..... again that would depend on what you are trying to teach. In Egyptian belly dance, there really IS an ideal situation and that is the solo dance performance.
    I am referring to an ideal teaching situation not overall approach to the dance situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    Like all students, whether or not they are doing solos or group dances, many of mine feel nervous. Do they feel more nervous for one or the other? I am not sure that's the main point if we are teaching dance. It's kind of like saying that if we were ballerinas that we would let there be a line of student Claras for the student production of the Nutcracker instead of just one, so they would all feel supported. Fine, but what of the dance itself then? Does it not sort of get lost in the shuffle? It usually seems to when I see this sort of thing being done....
    Regards,
    A'isha
    What baby ballerinas don't do group recitals??
    I used to ice skate. I did solo figure skating. I danced solo sometimes. But for a Christmas recital we did all sorts of group dances. Maybe there's a forum somewhere discussing this.

    I am just giving a view of a student experience. I am not striving to be an authority of group vs solo bellydance. Just a view. Hopefully of value to someone out there.

  4. #44
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Dear karena,

    [QUOTE=karena;89524]Not at all. I said we dance as a group.

    If your teacher presents to the class that belly dance is a solo dance, then how does she reconcile this information with group dancing? I am curious.



    I'm sure you are. You wouldn't be in the position you were if you weren't. But not all teachers suit all students. From what I have read I'm not sure your style would suit me. I think that's allowed. I'm sure I would drive
    some teachers up the wall too.
    I have studied with people I don't even like when I think they have something of value to offer. Beyond that, I am not sure that my writing even reflects my teaching style....



    It is utterly, 100%, entirely a personal view. I was explaining how I experience the issue at hand. I thought this would be of use for teachers understanding the issue from a different perspective and what makes other people tick. That is why I posted. It is not the law according to me. I don't do that nor see the value in people doing that. It is a view.
    As is what I have said.

    No. I was saying there are places for different approaches. In a beginner class I do not think that the advantages of singling people out outweigh the disadvantages
    .

    I disagree since students need individual attention from the beginning, or perhaps especially at the beginning of their dance journey. when the teacher addresses the class only as a group, they learn very little that pertains to their individual progress. If you are referring here only to performance, I think that group dance has to be explained very clearly as to what its purpose is within the individual style that is being performed. Within Egyptian dance, group dance is nearly always as a background device when it comes to belly dance, though folkloric dance often utilizes groups. This is applicable at the beginning, middle and end of a dancer's pursuit of dance. Some things are the way they are...../


    However, where the dancers are more advanced then they are subscribing to a more professional approach, ergo the hierarchy that is a part of professional performance comes with that.
    Actually, the heirarchy is there always, but very mutable in some cases. I had better be higher up the rungs in my dance journey than my students are or I have wasted the last 34 years of my life. Not only am I professional, but I have experience in the dance and the dance world, and in the cultural elements of the dance, that they do not yet have.



    I am referring to an ideal teaching situation not overall approach to the dance situation.
    I am not sure there is a difference. I find that all teaching situations are ideal unless the room, the sound system or some outside factor interferes.

    What baby ballerinas don't do group recitals??
    I used to ice skate. I did solo figure skating. I danced solo sometimes. But for a Christmas recital we did all sorts of group dances. Maybe there's a forum somewhere discussing this.
    Baby ballerinas do group recitals. I attend them at the studio where I teach. The less experienced students are never asked to do the lead roles or solos, and this is true in both the studio where I teach now and when I was costume designer at a university. Ballerinas have a huge heirarchy, nearly as I can tell, and the prima part is not played by a line of dancers. The baby ballerinas are usually in the chorus, and they are not the main attraction. And, in belly dance it is the same when groups are involved. They are do-woppers.

    Regards,
    A'isha

  5. #45
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    If your teacher presents to the class that belly dance is a solo dance, then how does she reconcile this information with group dancing? I am curious.
    I present belly dance as a solo improvisational dance but arrange for my students to do group choreographies as well. Anyone wishing to solo at a recital or hafla may do so (assuming they have enough experience to not look foolish in the processs) but group dances allow other dancers to participate in programs on a level they find more comfortable because it is less exposed. Most of our group dances are actually a string of improvised solos with whoever is not center stage acting as do-wops. At least once a semester, though, I force myself to choreograph a genuine group dance- a process I hate, but that is probably good for my character. My students enjoy dancing together and by doing so learn the different dynamics of solo dance vs group dancing as well as the emotional and practical differences between choreographed dancing and improvisational.

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    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karena View Post
    You know I think alot of this thread comes from a teacher/pro/more advanced dancer/more confident dancer perspective.

    When I first started dancing, I thought I will never perform, never show my belly, never be able to improvise. I'm sure we have all been there, haven't we?

    If my teacher had said to us, first baby hafla after learning for 6 months to a year, that she wasn't going to dance with us, then I'm not sure I would have got up and performed. Sure we all copied her, cos we we'd never performed before, were terrified, and couldn't remember a choreo cos we were concentrating on not running out of the room in panic. (OK I exaggerate but there's some truth in that). We needed lots of hand holding at that stage.

    Now we have danced without her, and all sorts of events but we got to that stage by her developing us as dancers. Even now she does sometimes dance with us, as we are a mixed group of people. I don't watch her anymore, I don't need to (although seen video footage where I look like I do, probably on default, just like default concentration face, so I need to work on that). But there are still people in the group that need to which is totally fair.

    Another thing re soloists, is in my opinion that opens a whole can of worms. I love the people I dance with, because we have bonded as a group, developed together, shared those kind of experiences. If the day I had started I saw that those people over there are the soloists, we are the backing dancers there would have straight away been a different atmosphere. Who is better than who, why are they better, why does the teacher prefer them etc etc etc. I don't think that makes for a productive atmosphere. There is of course a place for that, but not day 1.

    Sure the dance world is competitive, sure it should be a solo dance, sure people shouldn't just copy the teacher, sure they should engage with the audience. Sure. But how do people get there? By being nurtured and developed as a dancer, by building their confidence, taking off the stabilisers/arm bands.
    Dear Karena:

    Thank you for sharing your point of view, it was appreciated and understood. Although this isn't something I would do, I understood what you were saying. Just goes to show there are many different ways of looking at a situation.

    As for the bru,ha, ha over how to do an Oriental routine I'd first like to point out that the original question was whether or not a teacher should dance with her students. The question and points raised would also apply to a group folk dance. As to How the dance should be done, that's a bit like trying to get bubble gum off your fingers isn't it? It all depends on the situation and the context. I've seen group Oriental dances when I was in Egypt at one of Nagwa's shows. Everyone knew that it was just a small number in the program and that the main number was Nagwa's solo. I really don't see what the big deal is. There's room for everything. Honestly, its not like anyone outside of Egypt regularly puts on a Cairo style show. In Egypt you have one dancer who does several routines consisting of several segments with costume changes, not solo dancer after solo dancer doing only one song. So if we're going to nit pick about everything, where do we draw the line? The way a show is presented depends on the resources, circumstances and context. We adapt to the situations we find ourselves in and that is life. Instead of worrying about trying to stick to some mold, go out and dance.

    Taheya Carioka was once asked in an interview what type of music and songs should a dancer dance to? Her reply was "Who cares? The important thing is that she dances"! I think this sums it up. Sometimes we spend so much energy being so anal about everything and so unforgiving we forget to just dance. A big rigid old tree will brake in a storm, but a flexible sapling will survive.

  7. #47
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    I present belly dance as a solo improvisational dance but arrange for my students to do group choreographies as well. Anyone wishing to solo at a recital or hafla may do so (assuming they have enough experience to not look foolish in the processs) but group dances allow other dancers to participate in programs on a level they find more comfortable because it is less exposed. Most of our group dances are actually a string of improvised solos with whoever is not center stage acting as do-wops. At least once a semester, though, I force myself to choreograph a genuine group dance- a process I hate, but that is probably good for my character. My students enjoy dancing together and by doing so learn the different dynamics of solo dance vs group dancing as well as the emotional and practical differences between choreographed dancing and improvisational.

    Dear Shanazel,
    This seems sensible in the view that you teach American Cabaret, if memory serves. I have seen this style lend itself well to group choreographies now and again. I have not seen this to be successful so much with Egyptian belly dance unless there is a solid prima dancer who does the more complex interpretations of the music. I have never even seen a Turkish belly dancer attempt it!!

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    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    I present belly dance as a solo improvisational dance but arrange for my students to do group choreographies as well. Anyone wishing to solo at a recital or hafla may do so (assuming they have enough experience to not look foolish in the processs) but group dances allow other dancers to participate in programs on a level they find more comfortable because it is less exposed. Most of our group dances are actually a string of improvised solos with whoever is not center stage acting as do-wops. At least once a semester, though, I force myself to choreograph a genuine group dance- a process I hate, but that is probably good for my character. My students enjoy dancing together and by doing so learn the different dynamics of solo dance vs group dancing as well as the emotional and practical differences between choreographed dancing and improvisational.

    Dear Shanazel,
    This seems sensible in the view that you teach American Cabaret, if memory serves. I have seen this style lend itself well to group choreographies now and again. I have not seen this to be successful so much with Egyptian belly dance unless there is a solid prima dancer who does the more complex interpretations of the music, while do-woppers in the background do something much more simplistic. The music alone makes it much tougher to do group dances in the Egyptian style, and I have never even seen a Turkish belly dancer attempt it!!
    Regards,
    A'isha

  9. #49
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    Weather you dance with your students or not I feel is as personal as your style
    Barbara The Dancing Spirit

  10. #50
    Senior Member AngelaJP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aisha Azar View Post
    See the article on my website in my library, "Multiple Intelligences". I have studied this at length and even written about it. I love Gardner's work!!))
    Hi Aisha! Love Howard Gardner's work too! His teachings are like one of my bibles as a special needs teacher. (thread hi-jack! )

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