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  1. #1
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Arrow The State of the Dance in UK

    I read how this dance is expanding, how it is little by little being recognised as an art form . It's accepted as a suitable from of exercise.
    I am talking belly dance in the West here of course.
    Thinking about such an issue and highlighting the state of the dance in the UK for the magazine I edit, what would members here on this forum think are valid items for consideration?

    1. We are often told how far we are behind other European nations and the US.Is this still so? Or have we shining examples of good practise?

    2. Have standards risen in the last few years? After all students have more opportunities than ever with visiting teachers and the chance to travel.

    3.Are dancers/teachers more professional,better organised,providing a real traning ground as well as the chance to keep fit and have fun?

    4.Do we need a governing body? if so just who would that be?

    5.Teacher training? How widespread is it? Is it raising standards? Should it be essential for all but the long term established teachers?

    6.Are "entertainers" unionised? How widespread is the idea of the dance agency?

    7.What kind of press does the "belly dancer" get? Is it still the ill-informed snigger reaction or are pennies dropping that this can be a tasteful from of entertainment?

    8.What impact have the many variations made on more "traditional" forms of belly dance ie Egyptian and Turkish: ATS/ITS, Tribal Fusion,Burley Fusion, Gothic had on peception?

    9.Are there more opportunities for dancers to display their talent? Do we make the best use of them? Are we acceptable participants in dance festivals /cultural events?

    10. Ok I have to have ten points...don't I/ So are we our own worst enemies?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    flamin eck!

    How long have you got?

    1. We are often told how far we are behind other European nations and the US.Is this still so? Or have we shining examples of good practise?
    I really dont know!

    2. Have standards risen in the last few years? After all students have more opportunities than ever with visiting teachers and the chance to travel
    Very much so. We also have alot of 'alternative dance fusions' that we didnt have before.

    3.Are dancers/teachers more professional,better organised,providing a real traning ground as well as the chance to keep fit and have fun?
    Still 'hit and miss' I would say. Overall I imagine better as there is much more going on and more teachers etc. More awareness, and expectations have risen.

    4.Do we need a governing body? if so just who would that be?
    IMPOSSIBLE!!!

    5.Teacher training? How widespread is it? Is it raising standards? Should it be essential for all but the long term established teachers?
    I do believe that some teacher training has improved standards despite criticism, this should not be confused with good performers as the two do not go hand in hand.

    6.Are "entertainers" unionised? How widespread is the idea of the dance agency?
    a) no B) in it's infancy

    7.What kind of press does the "belly dancer" get? Is it still the ill-informed snigger reaction or are pennies dropping that this can be a tasteful from of entertainment?
    I personally dont see much of it. In the past it has been 'eye catching cheese'.

    8.What impact have the many variations made on more "traditional" forms of belly dance ie Egyptian and Turkish: ATS/ITS, Tribal Fusion,Burley Fusion, Gothic had on peception?
    very confusing.

    9.Are there more opportunities for dancers to display their talent? Do we make the best use of them? Are we acceptable participants in dance festivals /cultural events?
    A) yes b) not sure c) not always

    10. Ok I have to have ten points...don't I/ So are we our own worst enemies?
    Yes, by not being clear about what we do.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    I'm quite happy for folks to pick and chose the points. Come on yooze Brits help me out. I want your perceptions.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    I haven't been in the scene long enough to see a difference and I think I live in a bubble of good practice to be honest. I have more quality classes, workshops and events on my doorstep that I can go to.

    So speaking from this bubble:

    I have never heard we are behind Europe and the USA, but that would surprise me. But I suppose it depends on what terms. I don't know enough for this to be some attempt of stating 'fact' but my perception the USA it seems to be lots of AmCab, tribal and BDSS, which aren't really my thing, so I don't look wistfully over the pond.

    Hmmm, governing body. Again I'm speaking from outside knowing enough about this is BD so this is more a general view, but I'm not really big on these. I don't think they solve the problems that they seek to. They tend to give a credibility and status but yet the extent to which they actually are the bastion of good practice isn't necessarily there (it can be but it might not be). And if they are there, sometimes a culture of just settling down and not questioning it can occur.

    Of my experience of governing bodies, they all get slated by people in that field. And I don't think on unfounded bases.

    Training - depends on who does the training?

    Perceptions - still mainly get the giggle. But I tend to use terms that confuse first, so then there is more of a dialogue.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post

    1. We are often told how far we are behind other European nations and the US.Is this still so? Or have we shining examples of good practise?
    I feel generally Brits are lazier...often content to tootle along for years with one teacher and not expand their horizons. Perhaps this is due to our 'cucumber sandwich' mentality. In other words, we are terribly polite and non-judgemental and perhaps not critical enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    2. Have standards risen in the last few years? After all students have more opportunities than ever with visiting teachers and the chance to travel.
    Yes, I think they have. But slowly, and more slowly than elsewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    3.Are dancers/teachers more professional,better organised,providing a real traning ground as well as the chance to keep fit and have fun?
    Generally, yes. But there's still too many crap teachers out there who should be shot for what some of them are doing, or not doing.


    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    4.Do we need a governing body? if so just who would that be?
    That ain't gonna happen so long as we all got holes in us arses!

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    5.Teacher training? How widespread is it? Is it raising standards? Should it be essential for all but the long term established teachers?
    This is debatable. There is obviously the question of safety in dance etc, and so the longer standing TT establishments offer this but do not guarantee that anyone is going to be a better teacher in any other department. Most people would rather take tuition with a good dancer who is a moderate teacher, than a poor dancer who is an excellent teacher. I'm always kind of baffled as to how you can teach a movement well, if you cannot execute that movement yourself. I would never go to a teacher who could not dance herself.


    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    6.Are "entertainers" unionised? How widespread is the idea of the dance agency?
    In this dance form? Dancers are mostly doing it for themselves. An agent is an extra but not necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    7.What kind of press does the "belly dancer" get? Is it still the ill-informed snigger reaction or are pennies dropping that this can be a tasteful from of entertainment?
    Bad mostly. TV and the media can manipulate even the most experienced dancer. Remember Butterflies?

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    8.What impact have the many variations made on more "traditional" forms of belly dance ie Egyptian and Turkish: ATS/ITS, Tribal Fusion,Burley Fusion, Gothic had on peception?
    Lots. That's just the way of the world. Nothing will stop this.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    9.Are there more opportunities for dancers to display their talent? Do we make the best use of them? Are we acceptable participants in dance festivals /cultural events?
    I feel generally so, yes. There are more opportunities now than ever before.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    10. Ok I have to have ten points...don't I/ So are we our own worst enemies?
    In what way? That we are behind others in the world in the development of the quality of this dance? Perhaps. There should be a need to push students more out of their comfort zone and not to be so accepting of the current standards in the majority of classes around the country. I get sick of seeing substandard dancing whereever I go. There is also perhaps a need for teachers to be less complacent and smug about their own abilities or lack thereof. A teacher can go to dozens of high end workshops herself, but if she does not correct or push her students, what does she pass on and achieve?

  6. #6
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    A teacher can go to dozens of high end workshops herself, but if she does not correct or push her students,
    An excellent point. I often have to remind myself that as a teacher I am not only there for my own dance development but to pass on what I learn to my students. Sometimes of course this isn't relevent but when I think of the hours of advice and help from say ...Khaled ..there is here and there the essential snippet for the student of just a few weeks.
    Even so you know you hope to be become that better dancer you have to be to teach. As a teacher you are cascading ( ooo schoolteacher speak here) knowledge to students who couldn't get there.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    A teacher can go to dozens of high end workshops herself, but if she does not correct or push her students,
    An excellent point. I often have to remind myself that as a teacher I am not only there for my own dance development but to pass on what I learn to my students. Sometimes of course this isn't relevent but when I think of the hours of advice and help from say ...Khaled ..there is here and there the essential snippet for the student of just a few weeks.
    Even so you know you hope to be become that better dancer you have to be to teach. As a teacher you are cascading ( ooo schoolteacher speak here) knowledge to students who couldn't get there.
    And how many teachers still do workshops? hopefully all but I know that is not true.

    There is often a mentality that when you are a teacher you should not be seen 'learning'.

    Many teachers do not keep fresh and up to date with new ideas and think festivals and workshops are only for them to teach in.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline_afifi View Post
    And how many teachers still do workshops? hopefully all but I know that is not true.

    There is often a mentality that when you are a teacher you should not be seen 'learning'.

    Many teachers do not keep fresh and up to date with new ideas and think festivals and workshops are only for them to teach in.
    I don't know where some belly dance teachers get that idea..that they aren't to be seen as students. School teachers don't. You have to keep...er keep on top of your subject matter..science, home economic even history does not stand still in its' body of knowledge and it certainly doesn't in the manner of its' delivery.
    I would say if you don't make the effort to learn and develop you are not FIT to teach! What a diservice you do your students.
    Even if just once a year you attend a festival in addition to buying a DVD here and there, that's a big help. And if you are not that mobile why not invite teachers to come to you and your students and do a specialist or general skills workshop.

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    V.I.P. Caroline_afifi's Avatar
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    what do other people students think about this?

    I do see lots of teachers from around the country at workshops but I also know quite a few who dont go near them unless they are teaching.

    I think there are various factoes but do big names go to workshops? has anyone seen any?

    I know at Raqs B you will often see the 'Superstars' in workshops or looking in on them. I think this does show a real postive attitude.

    I think there are various factors rangeing from 'I know everything' to 'I dont want to be seen fubbling around sweatily at the back of a workshop' and another whole host of reasons in between.

  10. #10
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    I have no opinion on the state of dance in the UK as I cannot really observe or participate in it. I have been to only one show in the UK so far.

    But as far as teachers taking workshops. I was behind Jillina at one AWS workshop last year. And quite a few NYC teachers attended a workshop by Raqia Hassan that I also went to, last spring. I think Raqia offers a whole "teacher training" workshop in Cairo in December, right?

    I can understand why anyone would only want to take a class when they think they could benefit. That is, a teacher of 5 years' experience may take a workshop from another teacher with 20 years' experience but not necessarily the reverse, unless it was in something that the 5 years' experience teacher had more knowledge of.

    I guess there is a question as to whether ego or laziness might get in the way in some cases.

    Cathy

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