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  1. #1
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    Default As a workshop virgin, what should I look for?

    As the thread title implies, what should an inexperienced dancer look for if he/she is looking to attend a workshop?
    (I am specifically interested in egyptian style)

    is it a matter of asking the organizers or even the person hosting the workshop about what they intend to teach? what kind of questions should I ask?

    i don't want to ask about who is good or not good,because it is entirely subjective and in order to avoid conflict i think its best..

    but what in your opinion makes a workshop worth attending?

    I am going to try to attend quite a few in the coming year, and i don't want to feel as though my money is being wasted.

    so..help please?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Other people maybe able to offer good advice but I would say it is trial and error.

    A great dancer does not make a great teacher and vice versa.

    I would personally stay away from workshops with big numbers and I dont care who is teaching.

    Unless the teacher can come to you and personally assist you, then question the validity.

    If you are paying alot of money then the teacher should know YOU are there.

    I personally dont like workshops which teach choreography as the sole aim.
    These workshops mean nothing to me so i avoid them.

    Why do i want to go through the motions of someone elses choreography?

    I want to learn the tools to create my own and express myself.
    I am happy to learn choreography providing the technique is taught as the priority and not reaching the end of the routine.

    A choreography is an example of how something fits together, and that is it as far as I am concerned.
    Many may disagree.

    Choosing a workshop is about identifying your own learning needs and working out who or what is best to meet them.
    Last edited by Caroline_afifi; 12-04-2008 at 11:57 AM.

  3. #3
    Member Samira bint Aya's Avatar
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    Well, I feel that choosing a workshop is always a gamble…but at least it can be an educated gamble.. Quite often the workshop titles are misleading too.

    One basic question to ask is weather the instructor intends to teach technique, or weather they will be doing a choreography.

    Another important element is weather the teacher will be the person demonstrating the material being taught, or will it be their assistant. Sometimes the workshop can be held almost entirely by the assistant.

    Does the instructor have a good command of English? For some Egyptian teachers the preferred teaching method is “follow the bouncing butt technique”. This does not work well for some people (me!)

    Practical questions such as “should I bring my own shamadan/sagat/veil?” etc..
    Is it a ‘master” class (ie intended for experienced dancers)? Will you be allowed to bring your video camera with you?

    Also important in choosing a workshop is word of mouth. Ask around the belly dance community for reviews from people who have previously attended workshops held by the same teacher.

    Don’t just judge a teacher by the way she/he dances. Sometimes the best and most talented performers are not good as teachers (Asmahan is such an example, in my opinion).

    Others can be very good in teaching, while they may not be the most spectacular performers (such as Nuriyya who works with Hassan Khalil, in my opinion).

    Nevertheless, workshops are a lot of fun, even mediocre ones. And there is always something to learn from every teacher, or even fellow dancers who attend the workshop with you.

    Oops lengthy response!
    Good luck Kayshier!

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    pardon me for asking a stupid question

    but what is.."follow the bouncing butt technique"??

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    Member Samira bint Aya's Avatar
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    That’s when the teacher just goes on to dance, without explaining what she is doing. The student is expected to follow and, with a lot of luck, learn.

    I guess this is an old form of teaching any art or craft. You will find that by and large international Egyptian teachers (Khaled Mahmoud, Reda, Tito) take time to explain what it is they are doing.

    However, I have found that other amazing Egyptian dancers (such as Mona Mustafa) simply expect you to do as they do!

  6. #6
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Everything Caroline said (are you reading my mind? )
    I want to learn the tools to create my own and express myself.
    I am happy to learn choreography providing the technique is taught as the priority and not reaching the end of the routine.
    Me too.

    I've been to a few mega workshops - they can be OK for what they are as long as the venue is suitable (enough space, and teacher on a stage) and the price is right. Yasmina of Cairo did a brilliant job of one, she went into the crowd to give people attention. I've been to some small ones where you got no personal attention at all. Partly it's down to the teacher, but I wonder if some of it depends on how advanced you are. I mostly go to general/lower level classes. If I was doing masterclass type ones I would definitely expect small numbers and some personal attention for my money.

    I look for teachers I've heard good things about, subjects that are interesting/relevant... and I take the guidance about experience levels and the "learn how to master XYZ" blurb with a hefty pinch of salt. I've never mastered anything much in a workshop. Learnt a bit yes, had a moment of enlightenment if I'm lucky, but mastered...?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Marya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayshier View Post
    As the thread title implies, what should an inexperienced dancer look for if he/she is looking to attend a workshop?
    (I am specifically interested in egyptian style)

    is it a matter of asking the organizers or even the person hosting the workshop about what they intend to teach? what kind of questions should I ask?

    i don't want to ask about who is good or not good,because it is entirely subjective and in order to avoid conflict i think its best..

    but what in your opinion makes a workshop worth attending?

    I am going to try to attend quite a few in the coming year, and i don't want to feel as though my money is being wasted.

    so..help please?
    Despite the good advice that good dancers do not necessarily make good teachers I have reached the conclusion to not take a workshop with anyone unless I have seen them dance. (whether video or live) If I don't want to learn what they dance then I don't take the workshop.

    As an experienced workshop attendee I am willing to take a risk that someone may not be a good teacher if they are teaching something I can't learn any where else. But if you are just starting out as a dancer it would be better to look for a good teacher.

    Follow the bouncing butt works ok for me now that I have the basic moves down and have learned how to watch someone dance.

    Word of mouth may not be all that helpful, unless you know your own learning style and can ask specific questions about how someone teaches.

    Some people are enthusiastic about a teacher but leave out the fact that she or he may throw little tantrums and stamp their feet if attendees are not getting the moves.

    Since I am assuming you will have to travel a long ways in order to take workshops it might also be a good investment to try to purchase workshop videos. The lady in Texas (http://www.littleegypt.com/) who brings in all the "name" Egyptians produces videos of the workshops as well so you can see how they teach how good their English and how their interaction with students is. they are expensive but I have learned a lot from them and have a good feeling for which teachers I would enjoy learning from.

    Marya

  8. #8
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    In choosing a workshop I usually want to know the experience of the tutor - both as a dancer and a teacher. For instance if it is Egyptian folklore - were they in either of the big National troupes (Firqa Kawmiyya or Reda)? For how long? To what level? If you are going for raqs sharqi - get some video of them performing - more than just one dance. Do you like their style?

    What teaching experience do they have? - especially with workshops (we got burnt here once with someone with a "profile" who as it turned out had never taught a class of any kind - just a few informal private lessons to non-dancers). If possible ask someone you trust about their teaching style. If you need technical breakdown which is uncommon in my experience with Egyptian teachers (Dr Mo Geddawi being the exception) - be sure that they can and do breakdown combinations.

    What is the advertised topic? Does it interest you? (Use it only as a guide - I have attended many workshops where what was taught was only loosely connected to the topic or only took up an hour or so of a full day).

    How many will be in the workshops? Will you be able to see the tutor - ie 70 people if there are mirrors and a stage is fine. 40 without either can be frustrating.

    What level is it aimed at? Is that where you are at? Do you think that the people attending will fit that profile? (Tutors vary on how they handle unprepared classes, some teach down frustrating the experienced dancers some stick to their guns and get bad mouthed by people who shouldn't have been there)

    Try and go for workshops that give at least 2 full days with one tutor. The first day is usually required to get your head and body into their space. You start learning on the second day and by day 4 you'll be flying

    Don't expect individual attention in a workshop - it's not a class. Do expect reasonable questions to be answered (how to do a hip drop is not a reasonable question in most classes, nor ego ravings disguised as a question). If the tutor doesn't speak English there should be a translator on hand - often they get a free workshop for the service or they may be a friend of the tutor.

    Don't expect a warmup - ther emay be one but take responsibility of your own warmup before class starts.

    Prepare. Make sure you are fit. Don't make flexibilty changes just before the workshop. Bring water, protein bars (to eat within 30 minutes of the day end), a notebook, pen, veil and zills to every class. If it is a sa`iidi clss ask if there will cane used (not always the case). If it is and you are flying into the workshop ask if you can hire a cane from the sponsor. Consider a a video recorder for using after the workshop (or at lunchtime). Go over what you learnt as soon as possible after the class finishes.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    It looks like different countries have different expectations from workshops.

    Her in the Uk, only certain people are allowed a 'cattle market' approach to make it OK.

    Mirrors or no mirrors.. everyone has to question the value of paying a lot of money to stand in a crowded room if any teacher cannot deliver something meaningful to every single person in that room.
    A workshop may not be a class but it is not a performance either or a chance to pay to be in the same room as a 'star'.

    Classes are getting bigger around the world and this approach is about making money and nothing more.

    This will continue to get worse if people merely accept it as OK, and they frequently do.

    I watched a number of workshops at Ahlan this summer with huge numbers in them... a video would have been easier and cheaper option.

    90% of what i saw people do was not what the teacher was doing.

    What is the point??

    can someone explain to me what they get out of this?

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Default Another thought

    I was thinking about what people have said aboput seeing people perform first before taking a workshop with them.

    I am interested in exploring this if anyone is interested?

    It got me thinking about people I have seen dance and did not like it and wondered if I could respect them as a teacher?

    I also thought of the workshops i have enjoyed but never saw the teacher dance (name went before them sort of thing), Shareen El Safy, Morocco, Aida Nour (have done so since) etc. etc. I knew them by name only.

    If you see someone perform and it is not up to your standard, do you not want to learn from them? does it put you off?

    honest answers please

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