I agree.I just think it's ridiculous to expect someone to express themselves before they have a reasonable level of technique mastered, I feel like it's too much to ask them to focus on at once.
But even for something like that, you need at least some mastery of basic technique, wouldn't you say? Or are you telling me that from Day One (or Two, or Three) you are doing exercises to allow emotions to come out?I agree.
However, in my post on facebook, I wasn't talking about SELF expression, I was talking about EMOTIONAL expression. There are things that can be done even at the level of brand-new beginners to help people capture and feel the FUN and JOY of dancing. Ie, the teacher can choose to use joy/fun as the emotion to be expressed, and then do exercises in class that will allow those emotions to come out while dancing.
On Day 1, after teaching a couple of basic moves, such as hip drops and shimmies, first I drill those moves, going around correcting technique individually. Then I put on some lighthearted Arabic pop music with a good beat and have them experiment with switching back and forth between the two, improvisationally. Then I add a third move, such as hip bumps, and drill that with corrections, then add it into the improvisation. Then I pause the music, compliment them on what they've accomplished so far, and warn them that I'm going to try to make them laugh. I put the music back on and have them start improvising again - as they do so, I make funny faces at them and do other stuff intended to lighten them up. It works - by the time they finish that improvisation exercise, they're smiling and having fun.But even for something like that, you need at least some mastery of basic technique, wouldn't you say? Or are you telling me that from Day One (or Two, or Three) you are doing exercises to allow emotions to come out?
I felt the same way. But it took time to get "a handful of moves" under my belt. By the time I started belly dance classes I already knew how to move because I was already doing it on my own while searching for classes, but if I had started classes before that, I would not have felt ready to improvise on day one, and would have found that to be stressful rather than fun.Maybe it's because I already was a dancer, but the thing that really captivated me about bellydance was that with just a handful of moves, I felt like I COULD self-express.
That is most certainly a problem. Think about how much more information we would be able to add if our regular students came in 3x a week for 1.5 hour classes each time? And how much faster they would progress...I think the problem so many teachers have is simply limited time. I teach a 6-week session of one hour each week. So I have SIX HOURS to teach basic movements, demonstrate different rhythms and get students used to Arab music, inform on the "cultural bits" and dispel misconceptions, make sure everybody is moving in a safe fashion and doing okay with transitions ... and whatever else I've forgotten to list.
I agree 100%. I guess you and I are looking at the improv thing differently.It generally takes more than just one class to be able to execute half a dozen moves, even not very well... let alone to remember them and be able to "pull them out" in an improvisation scenario.
And I agree with you that someone can be a very good teacher without teaching improv the very first day of class. My motive in starting the discussion was to nudge people into thinking about what they teach, what they don't teach, and why they do it that way.I'm not saying it's wrong to add improvisation to the first class, just defending my choice not to do it.
I agree. In addition to starting people thinking about what should be taught, I also hoped to inspire those who do teach things other than technique to share how they do it - to help those who don't know how to teach it get ideas on where to start.But I do think another problem is that many teachers either do not know much past technique, or do not know how to teach it or think it's not necessary to teach it.
Yup, I too teach 6-week sessions. And yes, there's definitely a limit to what we can cover in that time!I think the problem so many teachers have is simply limited time. I teach a 6-week session of one hour each week. So I have SIX HOURS to teach basic movements, demonstrate different rhythms and get students used to Arab music, inform on the "cultural bits" and dispel misconceptions, make sure everybody is moving in a safe fashion and doing okay with transitions ... and whatever else I've forgotten to list.
This is very similar to what I've been doing. This term, I did include improvisation in my very first class. My students had learned hip rocks, shimmies, and shoulder rolls in the class. At the end, I did a section of rhythm exercises which included trying hip rocks with different timings (e.g. 123 123). Then I put on a ney taquasim with a drum beat underneath, and asked them to dance using only hip rocks (acknowledging the beat, with the option for returning students who were already confident with the technique to vary the timing), and shoulder rolls (acknowledging the ney melody, again with scope for my returning students to vary timing to fit the melody), changing between the two. It seemed to go OK!I have my students do their first improvisation exercise when they only know TWO moves. At that point, I tell them to use ONLY those two moves, even if they may have learned others through DVD, other teachers, etc. I tell them the purpose of that exercise is simply to get used to transitioning between the two moves they know. And I come out and say, "I don't expect great art, I just want you to get used to switching from one to the other."
Okay, I really like this idea. I have also been looking for a way to allow my beginners to "continue" and improve, without having to take the SAME syllabus over and over again. (Formerly I taught a "bootcamp" class, which taught a lot -- probably too many -- basic moves, but it was the same class every time.) I like the idea of having maybe a 3-session "block" with different things taught in each block. Developing an 18-week full session would be MUCH better.So the tradeoff I've chosen is this: I choose to NOT teach every basic move in 6 weeks. I pick 3-4 step combinations, and teach the building blocks needed to do them, but moves not used by the combos don't get taught. So, for example, someone might make it through my first 6 weeks without learning how to do a rib cage circle or snake arms. I teach different groups of step combinations each 6-week period, and I encourage my beginners to stay in Level 1 for 2-3 times before moving on to Level 2, as a way of learning moves/combos that they didn't learn their first time through it.