The first conversation

Jane

New member
I spent the morning returning calls from perspective students about the new beginner class. I have always found it kinda weird that students ask about the price first, when it is, and finally what to wear. No one ever asks if I'm qualified or even what style of belly dance it is. Occasionally they ask if they are too young/old for the class.

Students: What did you ask your teacher the first time you spoke?

Teachers: Have you ever had anyone ask you in-depth questions on the first call?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
I saw her dance. I didn't ask a thing- I just signed up, turned up, and never looked back.

I usually get price questions early on but I'm not surprised- many people are on strict budgets and dance classes rank as "extras." ;) I think people assume if you are teaching you are qualified. Look at what we put up with in public schools as "qualified." Pet peeve: a certification doesn't make you a teacher any more than a dog tag makes you a border collie.
 

gisela

Super Moderator
I found out about the class the day before it started and called and asked if there was a free spot for me and if I could come. She said yes and here I am nine years later :lol:
 

Darshiva

Moderator
Hubby (then still my boyfriend) had been saying for years that he thought I'd enjoy bellydance. So eventually I just walked over to the community college, paid the money & signed up.

As it turns out that community college is renknowned for having the most incompetent teachers in every class. Mine was no different. (Let me tell you the time when my art teacher left the class, I applied for the job & was rejected, but ended up teaching the class anyway while the one who was hired smoked and drank coffee with her boyfriend, or stood around mixing paint!)
 

Sophia Maria

New member
I spent the morning returning calls from perspective students about the new beginner class. I have always found it kinda weird that students ask about the price first, when it is, and finally what to wear. No one ever asks if I'm qualified or even what style of belly dance it is. Occasionally they ask if they are too young/old for the class.
To be fair, the general public usually knows so little about bd that they may have trouble knowing what questions to ask. I cannot for the life of me remember meeting my teacher, I just know I found her on some dance teacher directory. (I had already been learning it from a friend and obsessing over it). But I know that even when I finally signed up for a class, I had no comprehension of just how many styles exist in bellydance. I seriously only knew the mainstream pop versions from videos I watched of Haifa Webhe, Ruby, Miriam Fares, etc., since I was really into ME pop music then.

As for qualifications, unfortunately it's hard to judge when you're a beginner. Dancers have very different backgrounds, so the lack of certification standards means you don't know what specifically the dancer/teacher should have accomplished.

I had been dancing with my teacher for about a year when I also decided to dabble in another class near my college, too. By that point I could tell what was qualified and what was not...Every time I tried to talk to this second teacher about bellydance history/culture, her responses would go something like, "Interesting! I didn't know that!" In the end I dropped out after about five classes because she spent more time talking about moon worship and chakras than dance :wall:
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
To be fair, the general public usually knows so little about bd that they may have trouble knowing what questions to ask.
Absolutely, I know I didn't have a clue.

The first time I called my first concern was if she taught at a time I could make it then when she did I basically begged her to take me, then I asked the cost.

I had been looking for a teacher for several years and the only classes I had found before her were at a time I could not make it under any circumstances. I lucked out. I had no idea there were different styles and the classes I couldn't make it to turned out to be ITS which is NOT what I was looking for.

I didn't even think about whether she was qualified because she was literally my only option.
 

SeeJaneDance

New member
My very first class, I didn't know there were different styles, or what sort of qualifications to look for. I knew someone who took the class, and that was good enough for me. The pricing was on the website, so the only thing I asked was if if I could register over the phone, and what to wear. As a student, price was a huge issue for me, and it would have been the first question, if I hadn't already gotten an answer.
 

da Sage

New member
Students: What did you ask your teacher the first time you spoke?

Teachers: Have you ever had anyone ask you in-depth questions on the first call?
As a student, I just signed up. I didn't have any questions, other than "is the class full yet this term?" It was full for a couple of sessions, so I couldn't get in right away.

I'm not a teacher, but if I were, I think that a beginner student asking about my qualifications or philosophy would weird me out. If the student is more advanced, questioning a new-to-her teacher about her curriculum and expectations make sense.
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
I looked for a class close to home, found one & signed up, stayed with that class for about 18 months (at that point was beginning to see, she wasn't the best teacher), found another new class starting up, and her classes were a different day, so joined and oh boy the difference was amazing, so at the end of the current term with the first teacher, I told her I was moving on because she was changing venues & it was a little further away. Then 2 years later i saw this amazing dancer and she blew me away, joined her classes and have been with her the last 5 years as well as teacher number 2, for 7 years, they both teach Egyptian, and are darn good, but have different energies, and focus, so it is great for me, I am not stuck in a rut following the same old patterns.

Basically I didn't ask any Questions, except where the classes were held, the days and times:D Once I realised i love BD, I began to research heaps, and gained more and more knowledge, and I of course found myself buying DVDs & books ( & still do):D
~Mosaic
 

Yame

New member
If you know nothing about belly dance, how can you know what makes someone qualified to teach?

I don't usually ask this of any professional, actually. I know that just because someone does something professionally doesn't mean they are necessarily good at it, and in some instances it's very important to check someone's credentials (for example, your surgeon). But I find it a little invasive and confrontational to ask that of a teacher.

With that said, when teaching, I always open the first class with a discussion about what belly dance is, what style I do, and my background.

As a student, at this point, I only take classes/workshops from people whom I already know (beforehand) are not just qualified but truly top-notch. I know this from research and hearsay, not from asking the person. But if I'm going to go learn something new, say, flamenco, I don't really check beforehand or ask the teacher. I am indeed more concerned about the price (can I afford it?), location (can I get there?), time (can I fit it into my schedule?) and what to wear (what do I need to buy beforehand?). I guess these are just more practical and immediate matters...
 

Ahava_Melantha

New member
my story I guess is lil different. my parents didn't want me to learn at all because it was the dance of "gypsies and whores". I was adament. I WANTED to learn. they'd been teaching me since I was 5 that it was how they danced where my dad came from (came out NOT to be true as my father was from Kuwait, and step-dad was from Macedonia).

Well I walked in a parade wearing a Kuwaiti dress thobe and some dancers asked me if I belly dance as I was also wearing a veil. I said No and i'd been looking for classes and I joined up. My grandma took me cuz it was the ONE thing i actually asked for so she took me but asked and made sure that they didn't make belly dance whorish and that it would be "wholesome" as I was 15 at the time.
 

Kashmir

New member
Price and location is most common. From my contacts in the fitness industry apparently location is the main factor in new people deciding on A instead of B.

Occasionally I have people checking if they aren't too old.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
my story I guess is lil different. my parents didn't want me to learn at all because it was the dance of "gypsies and whores". I was adament. I WANTED to learn. they'd been teaching me since I was 5 that it was how they danced where my dad came from (came out NOT to be true as my father was from Kuwait, and step-dad was from Macedonia).

Well I walked in a parade wearing a Kuwaiti dress thobe and some dancers asked me if I belly dance as I was also wearing a veil. I said No and i'd been looking for classes and I joined up. My grandma took me cuz it was the ONE thing i actually asked for so she took me but asked and made sure that they didn't make belly dance whorish and that it would be "wholesome" as I was 15 at the time.
Posted on the wall at a Belly Dance studio:

"Please don't tell my Mother I'm a Belly Dancer. She thinks I'm a Madame at a whorehouse!"
 

atisheh

New member
I know a lot more than I did when I took my first belly dance class, but I still wouldn't ask any questions. At this point, if it's a workshop I try to find videos of the dancer and if possible ask around to find out how s/he is as a teacher. And if it's for regular lessons, I try to go for a sample class. After all, they might be a great dancer, but if the teaching doesn't fit how I learn best, it still won't be ideal!
 

AndreaSTL

New member
I went to my first studio because it was where a friend of a friend went. All I needed to know was when the beginner class started and if I needed to wear anything special. I was there a few years, and when I had to move up in levels I didn't enjoy it as much. Different teacher, different style focus. I decided to leave, and chose the next studio based on location. That's it! :shok: Of course, this was back in the olden days before the internet, and we were pretty isolated as far as other studios went. There were other studios in the phone book, but I didn't know a thing about them. Tribal wasn't really a thing at the time so I didn't have to worry about tribal vs. cabaret, and it never occurred to me to check out everyone before I made a choice. I often wonder how things might have been different had I looked everywhere and didn't base my decision on location.

As someone already mentioned, the GP doesn't know what they don't know so they can't ask the same questions we would.
 

SidraK

New member
I like to see an instructor have some sort of fitness certification. It's not necessary for the dance per se, but especially for beginners, it's good to have some sort of assurance that your instructor knows the basic biomechanics of the body and how to spot poor/potentially dangerous movement.

That said, my first classes were entirely selected on the basis of "this is the only person here who teaches it". ;)
 

Roshanna

New member
I also just went to the local class I could find that I could get to - no questions asked! Since I'm in a fairly small town, there wasn't much choice anyhow. I later moved between classes & teachers at the same dance school, and tried out another local class that I hadn't found out about in my initial searching because the teacher never used the word 'bellydance'...

It was a couple of years before I started actively researching teachers, at the point when I realised that to get better, I'd have to start travelling further afield and I wanted the extra time, money and effort to be well spent. I've actually still never contacted a teacher before signing up though! I might consider doing so if I sign up for a hard advanced-level class to check that I have a hope of keeping up, but I can't imagine myself ever asking a teacher about her qualificaitons. I'd feel very awkward doing that.

I suppose these days I go on a combination of word of mouth, online research, and having been to one-off workshops with a teacher in the past or seen her in a show etc.
 

Duvet

New member
My first questions were; Where is it?, When is it?, How much is it? Do you mind a man in the class? The fact that she was advertising something I wanted to try out was the important bit. Not knowing if I was going to be a long-term participant, I didn't view it as a big investment like a full-time study course, or hiring a lawyer, and so it didn't seem necessary to think too hard about the teacher's expertise. I just assumed she must have some, or she wouldn't be doing it, and if I didn't like what she did I needn't return.

The classes were advertised as Turkish Bellydance, but I had no idea there were different types of bellydancing when I started, so it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask which sort was being taught if it hadn't said so. And I wouldn't have known how to judge any qualifications or experience the teacher might have told me that she had. Knowing nothing about the dance, I wouldn't have known what she was talking about if she had told me about her own performance background and tachers. And at the time, if she had told me that she had a qualification in physiology I would have wondered why that had any specific relevance to a bellydance class (aerobics maybe, or a sport, but not dancing!!).

Knowing differently today, I still initially think of whether I can get to and afford the class before I consider the teacher's qualities. I won't go to a teacher I don't think is good enough for my needs, and knowing a teacher's qualifications/background helps me prioritise my choices, but it doesn't matter how good a teacher might be, if I can't get to or afford or feel comfortable in the class, I don't go.
 
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daimere

New member
Students: What did you ask your teacher the first time you spoke?
At one point, I had a whole slurry of emails to and from a bellydance studio asking about footwear, etc. I was so nervous. I still never went. Recently, when I was thinking of going to my current studio, I asked her
"Do you have any beginner bellydance classes in the evening? I've wanted to learn to bellydance all my life and would love to take a few classes." Then in another email, "Why style of bellydance are the classes? " She even remembered me from the emails! :)
 
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