"I don't know what style my teacher teaches"

Amulya

Moderator
(rant alert)

I met a lady who was taking belly dance classes with the same teacher for two years and she told me it was getting a bit boring and she'd like to learn more. She asked me if it was a good idea to buy DVDs. To be able to advise her I asked her what style her teacher has been teaching her and she didn't know! Her teacher never explained anything about dance styles and only told her student she 'teaches a bit of everything'. I feel sorry for that lady because maybe in those 2 years she hasn't learned much :confused:.
I keep hearing stories like these and wonder what's up with those teachers :( !
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Maybe they had bad teachers themselves. ;) On the other hand, maybe the students slept through the part of class re: styles because they weren't interested in amything except movement and costume. I've had my share of those.
 

jenc

New member
I would say that is sadly quite usual. Round here I am considered eccentric for thinking that dancers at a Hafla should have an introduction stating style, where the music comes from etc. I sat and watched a dance to Indian music with a newbie who didn't know music and style from egyptian. In fact mant of our newer dancers don't know that different styles etc, and have never seen a dancer until the end of first year of course!!
 

lizaj

New member
Some students are just not that interested..face it..they come for a weekly dose of dance and exercise and the hafla is a fun night out and will enjoy the act that is the most FUN!
We cannot get too arty farty with all of this just rest in the knowledge that every so often a student comes along who takes notice of the pearls of wisdom you manage to drop into a lesson, to the youtube recommendations, the CDs the DVDs, will attend the workshops and get obsessed
Poorly prepared teachers are another matter. there are many who teach a gneric style that they were taught and they are safe (H&S-wise) even though they may not have studied with expert Egyptian, Turkish or Tribal teachers. I do believe this is changing and that many more teacher attend the festivals that have sprung up to study with good teachers, go on training schemes and will be able to tell students exactly who they are but are all those students.........listening?
 

jenc

New member
I'm listening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!................................Hello Is there Anybody there???????????

Where's the smiley for deep heartfelt sigh.
 

Aziyade

New member
Well, sometimes as a teacher it's hard to stick to one "pure" style especially if you yourself dance to a lot of different kinds of music.

Although I mostly teach Egyptian technique, I'll choose variations to show people how the different styles vary. Like straight-leg-shimmy and bent-leg shimmy and twist shimmy.

I have an Egyptian teacher (from Egypt) and she will every now and then break out into something I've been told is not Egyptian style, like a big reverse undulation. She says she doesn't want to be limited as a dancer. I respect that.

Also, there are a lot of movements or steps students will see on video that aren't part of my normal dance vocabulary. The big snake arms I teach as an American version of arm waves. And I can't have a class completely ignorant of the Turkish 9/8 rhythm just because they don't use it in Egyptian style. Same with cymbals. My teacher plays cymbals, but only in specific dances like the zeffa. I adore cymbals, so I teach them. Are they Egyptian style? Strictly speaking, no, but they are a part of the American tradition.

Same with veil and a lot of the ballet-inspired stylings of Reda and Samia Gamal. I can't leave that out without feeling like I haven't given my students a rounded education. Although I don't teach tribal, I do introduce Suhaila technique because I think it proves useful in getting students to use their butt to accentuate movement.

So I teach a mishmash of technique, and I try to let them know what style each thing comes from, but I don't know how much gets through. As far as musical interpretation, I focus on Egyptian musical interpretation because I think that's the key to making it belly dance and not just random wiggling of the hips and torso.

Maybe that's the wrong approach, but my students seem to really like it. And frankly, that's how I dance, and it works for me.
 

CottonAnatomy

New member
My instructor usually performs fusion, so during our lessons she teaches both egyptian and tribal style moves. She's always good about specifying which are which style, but the choreographies she teaches are fusions so I don't know if I would be confident in performing just an egyptian piece. I have considered looking for another teacher to just learn strictly egyptian from and asking my curren teacher to just teach me tribal. Not sure.
 

~Diana~

AFK Moderator
WOW! one of the first things my teacher did in our beginner class was to explain and talk about our dance style, all styles of bellydance, and a brief history as we went along.
 

Amulya

Moderator
I used to explain what the things were what I was teaching, because I'm a fusion dancer. But I did base my classes on classical Egytian style with elements of other styles. The same for my own first teacher.
I know that students are often not that into learning about the background of things, but they should at least know vaguely what they're doing. The problem is when these kind of people start performing, like Jenc mentioned. The general audience will think that that is belly dance.
I suspect in case of this student I mentioned that her teacher doesn't know herself. But it seems like this student wants to learn more and she should be able to get that information.
 

Corylus

New member
I agree with what has been said by some others, I am sure some teachers do explain the styles/moves that they teach and their origins but their students don't hear/listen.

Or, sadly it may well be the case that this teacher didn't explain anything at all. I guess it is impossible to know exactly whether she did or didn't, but for this woman to ask you about further resources suggests her interest goes beyond just turning up at classes for fitness or a chat so I guess that she probably takes an interest and listens in class.

I am lucky to have a teacher who explains everything in detail. She teaches different styles and explains them. She also tries to help us understand the sort of music you would dance to for each style and the way you would dance to it. Also, I have faith that almost any question we asked she would either know an answer to or would go away and try to find an answer for us.
 

Daimona

Moderator
Same with cymbals. My teacher plays cymbals, but only in specific dances like the zeffa. I adore cymbals, so I teach them. Are they Egyptian style? Strictly speaking, no, but they are a part of the American tradition.
As far as I have learnt, they are also a part of an Egyptian tradition (for example ghawazee dances). Just right now, it isn't fashion amongst the Raqs Sharki-dancers.

So I teach a mishmash of technique, and I try to let them know what style each thing comes from, but I don't know how much gets through. As far as musical interpretation, I focus on Egyptian musical interpretation because I think that's the key to making it belly dance and not just random wiggling of the hips and torso.

Maybe that's the wrong approach, but my students seem to really like it. And frankly, that's how I dance, and it works for me.
To me it seems like a good approach.
And as long you tell your students about the different origins, you have done what you can do. If they don't care, it really isn't your fault.
 

shiradotnet

New member
My teacher plays cymbals, but only in specific dances like the zeffa. I adore cymbals, so I teach them. Are they Egyptian style? Strictly speaking, no, but they are a part of the American tradition.
Actually, I have to disagree. They're Egyptian old-style. Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioca, and Naima Akef all certainly played cymbals in their nightclub shows. Cymbals are admittedly out of fashion among current Egyptian performers, but that doesn't make the cymbals un-Egyptian.
 

teela

New member
It is possible that the lady's teacher never told them the type of belly dance being taught. Neither of my first two teachers every mentioned anything about style so I have no idea what style they taught. My second teacher would share things she learned at workshops but again never told us anything about the person's dance style. It wasn't until I started taking lessons at this new place in town that I finally got a teacher who told us she was an Egyptian style dancer. She even told us about going to Egypt and who she studied with.
 
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Aziyade

New member
Actually, I have to disagree. They're Egyptian old-style. Samia Gamal, Tahia Carioca, and Naima Akef all certainly played cymbals in their nightclub shows. Cymbals are admittedly out of fashion among current Egyptian performers, but that doesn't make the cymbals un-Egyptian.
You're right and I should have been more clear. What I tell students is that cymbal playing is out of fashion right now, but who knows when it will come back into fashion and become the big rage. And don't they want to be prepared for the next new thing? :)

Although... from what I've been told, cymbal playing in Egypt was not the complex interplay between music and dancer the way I teach it. Patterns were more simple 3's or simple singles. I borrow heavily from Jamila Salimpour's format, but I don't stick to just patterns. I just sort of let the cymbals play a secondary melody line. I'm actually choreographing a cymbal and drum duet, so I'll try to film it and post the link when I get it finished. It is very western, but I like it :)
 
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