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  1. #1
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    Default Standard of students in higher level workshops

    Hello all
    I don't like having one of my first posts as quite a whingy post but this has really bugged me.
    I recently attended a Tribal Fusion workshop that was classed as ‘Advanced’ and stipulated in the description that experience of ATS and Suhaila Salimpour technique was required as well as several years of tribal fusion. I was quite excited and nervous about attending as I felt it would be a real challenge and I really wanted to know what to aim for and work on in the dance even if i could not do it all. Based on my own experience I would have described myself more as a intermediate/high intermediate. Anyway I went and many of the students could not be described as in any way near to hitting the criteria (including having difficulty just doing the level 1 warmup!) and this was clear to the instructor who had planned to do all these advanced drills that she described at the beginning of the class but in the end had to completely modify her workshop and drill a couple of far more basic areas intensively. At the end she stated it ended up being more like a high beginner/intermediate workshop with a couple of advanced ‘concepts’ and I think she was quite frustrated too.

    I just feel a bit cheated that one of the rare opportunities you get to be taught by a top professional the advanced skills that would be beyond many of us mere bellydance mortals, that you paytop whack for, and have prepared for, the workshop has to be modified to cater for those that really should never have attended. Its not the instructors fault- they have no control over who decides to enrol for these open workshops, they can just state explicitly the skill level required. Also if the bellydance teacher is from another country I don’t think it reflects well on their perception of the quality of the dancers in this country if the level of attendees is so low. We do have excellent fusion dancers but they were not there!

    What is anyone else’s opinion on this issue when people attend workshops waaaay above their skill level and it has a detrimental impact on the whole workshop?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. karena's Avatar
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    Yep. I remember the pride I felt when I first upped the level of the workshop I attended as I had more experience that before, and then was shocked at the level of many participants. But that hasn't made me then just attend beyond my limits - I don't want to be the one holding others back.

    It's a tricky one though.

    Not sure it is always the fault of the student if they haven't been exposed to different skill levels. Nor necessarily the student's teacher if they operate in a bubble and don't know the other levels of skill out there. That's not to say that neither of those groups could/should look outside of their bubble. Just that it's not always intentional. Related to that whole standards thing I think, and if the dance scene changes and people don't keep up...

    (I'm not saying fault doesn't lie at either door, that's perhaps a given, but just maybe a bit more complex)

    I am inclined to think though that maybe the instructor should stick to their original plan and allow people to sink or swim. Within parameters. It's no good if everyone sinks. Then maybe word would get around.

    Maybe what was advanced is just changing as the level of the dance in the UK improves.

    On the flip side, I have also been in workshops billed at a lower level, and people of a higher level turn up and then people who were at the right level get left behind as they might not be brave enough to speak up. I have seen the same workshop of the same choreo billed as various different levels at different events (strangely also with different titles/descriptions too )

  3. #3
    Junior Member Rue Sailmana's Avatar
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    I can totally understand your frustrations although I have not got any experience with it.

    I have not attended any workshops here yet because I always had the feeling I did not met the asked for requirements. And besides that, workshops are usually quite expensive for me as I have not got that much to spend.

    This summer I will finally attend my first workshop. I have got quite high hopes of it. Fortunately our teacher does keep an eye on who subscribes and also points out to people that have not got the required skills that there áre alternative workshops for their level.
    Last edited by Rue Sailmana; 06-08-2009 at 05:26 PM.

  4. #4
    V.I.P. da Sage's Avatar
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    I'm really surprised to hear that there's lots of people in the UK with significant ATS, Suhaila Technique, and years of tribal fusion experience. I thought there wasn't much tuition available there for that...heck, even in my part of the US, no local classes were available until last year. My first thought is that maybe this wasn't the right workshop for the area? Maybe my opinion is overly influenced by the "going where the training is" video, but I always thought the UK was tribal-resource-poor, Egyptian-and-other-authentic-style-resource-rich.

    I've also stayed away from classes and workshops that I don't feel qualified for, although I've been bitterly disappointed by a workshop that was described as "no bellydance experience required"...which might be fine if the attendees were classically trained dancers, but most weren't, and most of the bellydancers did not finish the workshop. Another workshop I knew would be a stretch for my abilities, but I didn't know how much!

    I try not to be the dancer that holds back the group, but I have some weak spots that I haven't overcome yet. Learning choreography is one of these, and I've avoided intense Suhaila workshops because I don't have the stamina to both drill hard in awkward positions, and then dance well afterwards.

    I think if the teacher spends a quarter to half the time teaching to the average level of the class, and the rest working at the promised advanced level, that would be a fair compromise. I'd be disappointed to lose out on advanced stuff, too, but I think that's why some people book privates with visiting teachers - getting the individual attention is worth the money.
    Last edited by da Sage; 06-08-2009 at 05:03 PM.

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    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    Last year I was "in attendance" on a BDSS workshop and I have to agree with the OP.There were ladies taking part who,like myself were of a "certain age" and I was seriously concerned I might have to bring my grasp of CPR into use. They made hard work of the "warm-up" here also.Bigger older Brit ladies struggled to make sense of what the much younger and fitter Brit and Euro dancers.
    I think we in the UK, have yet to grasp that there are greater numbers of young and fit BDers in the US than here. And that is what our BDSS instructors have been expecting to find. A lot more information and warnings aught to be given AND our teacher aught to be a lot more realistic in the labels they give to their students. I hear at haflas students calling themselves "advanced" after 2 years of dancing and like me they are middle aged so .....off they pop to be taught by the likes of Sharon Kihara. Would I...er no..even after 11 years of studying and dancing and workshops and rarely having to give up on one I may add, I would ever think I could benefit from some kinds of workshops.
    We need for students to be realistic, we need for organisers to be clear and to resist taking people into a workshop situation that is beyond them
    I know how hard the organisers of JoY try to make sure students are not taking workshops too demanding for their level of competance BUT we still have teachers and students who are unrealistic about their ability.
    Yes we do have trained ATS dancers here in the UK, girls who have been "over there"(Oregon SF etc) to do courses and there is a higher level of competance than ever but we are still talking small numbers.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    Last year I was "in attendance" on a BDSS workshop and I have to agree with the OP.There were ladies taking part who,like myself were of a "certain age" and I was seriously concerned I might have to bring my grasp of CPR into use. They made hard work of the "warm-up" here also.Bigger older Brit ladies struggled to make sense of what the much younger and fitter Brit and Euro dancers.
    I think we in the UK, have yet to grasp that there are greater numbers of young and fit BDers in the US than here. And that is what our BDSS instructors have been expecting to find. A lot more information and warnings aught to be given AND our teacher aught to be a lot more realistic in the labels they give to their students. I hear at haflas students calling themselves "advanced" after 2 years of dancing and like me they are middle aged so .....off they pop to be taught by the likes of Sharon Kihara. Would I...er no..even after 11 years of studying and dancing and workshops and rarely having to give up on one I may add, I would ever think I could benefit from some kinds of workshops.
    We need for students to be realistic, we need for organisers to be clear and to resist taking people into a workshop situation that is beyond them
    I know how hard the organisers of JoY try to make sure students are not taking workshops too demanding for their level of competance BUT we still have teachers and students who are unrealistic about their ability.
    Yes we do have trained ATS dancers here in the UK, girls who have been "over there"(Oregon SF etc) to do courses and there is a higher level of competance than ever but we are still talking small numbers.
    Unfortunately there seem to be many students young and older who give themselves more advanced status than they actually have. I'm not sure why. Perhaps they are ego driven, or they are bolstered up by their loved ones who obviously think they are wonderful. Whatever the reason, it's a severe blow when they realise they cannot keep up in a class. And I get really pissed off when.. a) I'm teaching an advanced workshop and there are people there who cannot get the basics. I don't stop the class for them and if they cannot keep up...tough. And b) when I attend a workshop and the whole thing is slowed down by some dumb broads who can't grasp the basics never mind the advanced stuff and my hard earned money is wasted as they take up half the workshop being shown the aforementioned basics. A real stinker either way!

  7. #7
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    Default Teachers need to be realistic

    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    I hear at haflas students calling themselves "advanced" after 2 years of dancing
    Yes, and sometimes it is the teachers at fault. A few years back a workshop was offered as Saturday beginners, Sunday Advanced. So I thought I'd check out if I was up to the Advanced workshop. What level did they require? Apparently just attending the Saturday workshop!!!!! Beginner to Advanced in one weekend. I'm not sure if the problem is one of marketing (in general) or too many teachers simply have no idea what an advanced dancer is capable of and how much training is required.

    Back on topic, it is really hard if only one or two people met the criteria. I'd be tempted to push them so they see what they were expected to be able to do - but they may end up injuring themselves. Or worse, have no idea they are not doing what they were asked and go away adding Advanced workshop with Xyz to their CV! It would be good if the instructor could at least give some extentions to those who could handle it rather than dumb everything down.

  8. #8
    V.I.P. lizaj's Avatar
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    How ever long or how however hard we have studied this dance, there are still an great number of dancers who are nether young nor super-fit here in the UK. After all we promote the dance as kindly disposed towards all ages and body shapes and then when teacher has patted us on the head and told us how well we have done over the past 18 months, we believe we can cope with the demands of a "superstar".mm. and from what I observe there is a lot of "other fitness" elements introduced inot their workshops. Yes I agree it is irritating for an exerienced dancer to go along and only find the nature of the workshop has drastically altered to suit the majority of deluded/misled attendees. This seems to be particlularly so with tribal workshops where teachers may be the proud possessers of gym toned bodies ..the very thing I started BDing to avoid getting .
    How glad am I I ventured back to a class with Amel tafsout...demanding yes,changing ways to suit Berber dances but dances of real people and such good fun! I want workshops with a high level of fun these days

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizaj View Post
    How ever long or how however hard we have studied this dance, there are still an great number of dancers who are nether young nor super-fit here in the UK. After all we promote the dance as kindly disposed towards all ages and body shapes and then when teacher has patted us on the head and told us how well we have done over the past 18 months, we believe we can cope with the demands of a "superstar".mm. and from what I observe there is a lot of "other fitness" elements introduced inot their workshops. Yes I agree it is irritating for an exerienced dancer to go along and only find the nature of the workshop has drastically altered to suit the majority of deluded/misled attendees. This seems to be particlularly so with tribal workshops where teachers may be the proud possessers of gym toned bodies ..the very thing I started BDing to avoid getting .
    How glad am I I ventured back to a class with Amel tafsout...demanding yes,changing ways to suit Berber dances but dances of real people and such good fun! I want workshops with a high level of fun these days
    I feel it's not about being superfit. It's about having technique and being able to hear and interpret the music! It's about having learned certain principles not about being young or toned. It's about knowing and acknowledging your limitations. For me, at least and the workshops I take and teach. But then I don't do the Rachel Brice stuff. If you're overweight, stiff and have movement limitations, why on earth would anyone attend an advanced Sharon Kihara class? It's madness. Amel is a prime example of how you can be mature, adept and not have to be super slim, young and toned to dance really well.

    Not being able to execute the basic movements well is not about being young or fit. It's about not being able to dance. If you can't make pastry, don't make a pie.

    On the same score, there's nothing wrong with pushing out the envelope and pushing yourself out of the comfort zone...but don't then whinge and complain in the class that you can't keep up and slow down the whole workshop by demanding explanations of movements. Bite the bullet and get on with it.

  10. #10
    V.I.P. jenc's Avatar
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    Given the choice I would rather attend a workshop that was above my level than below. I try to stay at the side - where I can still see reasonably and not get in the way. I wouldn't expect to have workshop slowed down for me though - and I can still pick up loads of tips in the by the way bits!!!
    I think there is a problem with workshop levels. I could be wrong but - they go from 1beginner, then 2 one year's experience, then 3 advanced. So what i'm looking for is generally 2/3 I think.

    you see what I want from a workshop is to get something extra, so I'm disappointed if it feels like a lesson from a regular teacher.

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