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  1. #1
    Junior Member Aurelia's Avatar
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    Default Physically adjusting students' form?

    I wasn't sure how to make the question clear in the title, but what I want to know is: do you typically physically move or adjust students during class (to get their elbows up, weight back, shoulders down, etc.)? I usually don't, but sometimes it takes me 3 times as long to explain and model on my own body what a student needs to adjust, when I could just help them feel it in their own. But I am a little bit shy about doing this. I had a ballet teacher who would do this, and one kind of crazy modern teacher, but most of my dance teachers have not had a hands-on approach and I'm not sure what to do or how.

    What's your experience, if you don't mind sharing?

    Aurelia

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    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aurelia View Post
    I wasn't sure how to make the question clear in the title, but what I want to know is: do you typically physically move or adjust students during class (to get their elbows up, weight back, shoulders down, etc.)? I usually don't, but sometimes it takes me 3 times as long to explain and model on my own body what a student needs to adjust, when I could just help them feel it in their own. But I am a little bit shy about doing this. I had a ballet teacher who would do this, and one kind of crazy modern teacher, but most of my dance teachers have not had a hands-on approach and I'm not sure what to do or how.

    What's your experience, if you don't mind sharing?

    Aurelia
    From this student's point of view I don't mind, in fact it makes it easier to understand what the teacher means. I have had a few teachers touch, pull, hold, press (within reason, of course) my bodyparts into positions and it was great to get a clear feel of how the move/posture/etc should be like.
    I believe the teacher has to do it with some confidence otherwise the uneasiness might affect the student as well.
    There's always the option of explaining your teching methods at the start of each season, like, "I will touch you when necessary for correcting posture or potentially harmful moves" or just saying "is it allright if I touch you?" each time it comes up.
    Last workshop I took my teacher grabbed my butt and pants and pulled it until I made the move big enough. I was amused only, not offended.
    immer glimmer

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    Administrator Salome's Avatar
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    If after explaining and demonstrating and giving a bit to practice, and it's still not happening, I'll correct by touch. But I always ask first 'is it ok if I put my hand on your arm' or whatever. Some people do not like to be touched or feel like their personal space invaded.

  4. #4
    Member Amri_'s Avatar
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    Aurelia From a student's & a teacher's point of view I can say that it's very normal to physically adjust students' form, because sometimes it's really needed. Especially with beginners, vecause sometimes it's like the can see what a teacher does, but they cannot control their body very well, so they just can't realise how to do it on their own. In such cases it's really needed to "guide" a student. A couple of times I substituted for a teacher for children group. So during the class I had to shape oalmost every student, because a 6 or 7 year old girl doesn't even know where her hips are, and definately she doesn't know what to do with them. So especially for children it's hard to copy what teacher does.

    And as a student I've had 2 different experiences. For example, when we are messing smth in general, out teacher, Yuliya,jokes:" Imma take a stick now". And she takes a saidi stick and starts walking around. She doesn't do anyhting, only takes a stick and watches us dancing... Then one moment she stops the music and we all "freeze" in our positions. Then she starts to pass by every1, checking shapes. And she'd touch with the stick while adjusting smn's shape.. LOL! No-no, of course she doesn't beat any1, just smoothly touches, but the effect is amaising. as she says:" U are the best group, applying for professionals. So I should be hard on you." She's a great teacher. Like a hommie girl She is always too direct with students, but she never hurts anyone's feelings.

    Another experience I've had was pretty strange. It's about when "touching" a student withought warning may confuse. Our teacher once brought her arabic friend( a male dancer) to workshop, for master class. And he was the teacher for that lesson. He was really amaising, so friendly and also too direct. LOL. We'd also chat during a class, and he saw my confused face, because I was actually seeing a male belly dancer for the 1st time. So he asked me if smth was wrong. I said nothing was wrong, just I could never imagine that a male can do all those things and be such amaising belly dancer, because I've always thought that a belly dance was more suitable for a woman's body structure. And I kinda ask " how do U do that ", so he answered:" I do it just like you". Then, maybe, to prove me that he does it just like me, he took my hands( without warning) and put it on his hips and started doing the shimmy thing. I was confused. Girls around also looked kinda confused.. I just didn't expect that and actually felt very uncomfortable...

  5. #5
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    When I was a student, I never had a problem with the teacher adjusting me, but as a teacher you do need to be sensitive to the fact that some students may be uncomfortable being touched. (Especially those with a history of rape, domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, etc.)

    If spoken explanations and "look how I'm doing it," are not sufficient, the next thing I try is to invite the student to place her hands on my body to feel how my body is doing the move. That's less threatening to a student than me touching her, because she's fully in control of the situation. This breaks the ice - later if I want to touch the student, the contact has already been established with nothing bad having happened.

    If inviting them to touch me is insufficient, I next ask them if it's okay if I touch them. I've never had anybody say no, but I feel it's appropriate to continue asking - again, it keeps them in control of the situation.

    My mother used to teach continuing education courses for K-12 teachers on the craft of teaching. In one of her courses, it talked about the ways in which people learn. It listed these three:

    • Visual. Some people learn easiest by what they see. As it relates to our dance, they look at what you are doing and try to mimic it, and later when practicing at home they conjure a visual memory showing you doing the move.
    • Auditory. Some people learn easiest by what they hear. As it relates to our dance, your spoken explanations are what they retain. Later when practicing at home, they hear your words echoing in their memory.
    • Kinetic. Some people learn easiest by what they touch/feel. As it relates to our dance, the sensation of placing their hands on your body and feeling you produce the move, or of having you touch their body to illustrate what you need is what they remember when they practice at home.


    So, the best teachers try to think of ways to reach each type of learner in how they present things in class. I've had lots of students over the years tell me how placing their hands on my body helped a LOT in understanding what I wanted from them.

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    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    I usually demonstrate (sometimes both what I want and what I don't want), then explain and only then do hands on. In the first class I will tell students I may do this and to let me know if it is not okay (saves asking over and over).

  7. #7
    Member Amri_'s Avatar
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    shiradotnet Your system is very nice and democtaric, by the way.. But with some students it's more common that a teacher touches when adjusting a shape.... For example for me it was pretty confusing because I was not used to touching a teacher...

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    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amri_ View Post
    shiradotnet Your system is very nice and democtaric, by the way.. But with some students it's more common that a teacher touches when adjusting a shape.... For example for me it was pretty confusing because I was not used to touching a teacher...
    Amri, I can see why you were not comfortable with that teacher grabbing your hands and putting them on his body. There are several things about it that would have made me uncomfortable:

    • He was not trying to correct something you were doing wrong. There really was no need to put your hands on his body. He could have made his point without making you touch him.
    • He grabbed your hands and placed them there, removing your ability to be in control of the situation. Note that I said I point to my body and invite the student to place her hands on it. This allows her a moment to think about it, process the idea that doing it might help her learn what I want her to learn, and accept the idea before doing it.
    • This was a situation where the teacher was a different gender from you. That makes the touching somewhat more awkward.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    I have heard that there is a male Egyptian teacher who, under the pretense of "teaching", gropes his female students when he teaches workshops. In other words, he SAYS he is going to adjust their posture or whatever, but then lets his hands linger too long and wander onto inappropriate parts of their bodies.

    Ewwww.

  10. #10
    Member Amri_'s Avatar
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    shiradotnet Well, what I can add to my previous post is that U are also a very good psycologist Keep up with that Guess ur classes not only teach belly dance, but also help ur students cope with some complixes or whatever it's called...

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