When is it ok to go out on your own???

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elly-beth

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Hi girls, I am fairly new to the Belly Dance scene but have been dancing in various forms since I could walk and Fire Dancing for quite some time....Recently at a party I was doing my thing like you do and some girls asked me if I would teach them... I said I would if they could get ten girls together not expecting them to... I now have a class ... I was wondering about the etiquite of that... is it too soon (have been bd for 9 months) will my instructor be ok with it .... was wondering what you think...
 

Moon

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I don't know if you're a good bellydancer, but I personally think only 9 months bellydance experience is way to short to start teaching. I think it's ok to teach friends a few moves you know, but you can't really call that a "bellydance class". I'm taking bellydance classes myself and I really like to have an experienced teacher that doesn't only know how to dance, but also knows a lot about the music and the history of the dance and, very important, she knows how to teach!
If I were you, I would clearly explain to these girls that you like to teach them some moves, but you're not very experienced, you're not a real teacher and if they really want to learn how to dance, it's better to send them to a real teacher (maybe your own teacher?).
 

elly-beth

New member
Thankyou for replying moon.. i understand what you mean.... thats why i was hesitent.... fire dancing is similar to BD in ways but it is very tribal... I told them that i could only show them the basics and what I know and feel they would benifit by going to another teacher but they are pretty incistent... What I do is a fusion of tribal fire dancing and what I would call belly dancing.... i understand that i would have to emerse my self deeply to get a true understanding.... i was just wondering, what the deal was and if i was commiting a massive faux pas
 

Mariyam

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I cannot agree more with Moon! :)

If it was only a one-time thing, where you show off a few moves to a group of friends, part of, let's say, an oriental-flavored "girls' evening" of some sort... sure!

If you want to introduce your friends to this wonderful dance and this wonderful world by showing a few moves, and then encourage them to sign up for classes with your teacher for example... why not?

I think it's great that your friends are interested in knowing more about the dance, though! But after 9 months, I don't think you are quite ready to teach :( But that's my personal opinion of course, not a "professionnal" opinion!! (I've only been dancing for 2 years and nowhere near pro level!)
 

elly-beth

New member
Thankyou Mariyam, I took the advise both you and Moon gave me and asked my teacher about it which was the essence of my ??? she feels that I have the capabilities and has told me to go for it and to take some formal training in regard to teaching.... thank god I did'nt make a big blunder and have her get mad at me she has been dancing for twenty years and has eased the concerns about my limited BD experiance.... I should have explained that after my first lesson I was placed in the advanced class and given three solo's in our repitoire (not bragging) I will show them what I know then pass them on to Galina for the further training.........
 

chryssanthi sahar

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i was just wondering, what the deal was and if i was commiting a massive faux pas
Well actually you were! Teaching belly dance after having participating lessons for only 9 months is a joke!!
Even if your teacher approves your teaching abilities, this doesn't really give you the skills to teach. And if I am honest, I even doubt about the professionality of your teacher, if she finds it o.k. that a total beginner (because this is what you are after 9 months of belly dancing) teaches a class on her own. Maybe you are very talented, but still you lack a lot of knowledge and experience. And a last question: do you know at all what style of belly dance you are dancing?
Sorry for the hard words, but I belong to the people who adore this dance and take it very seriously ( I've been dancing all together for 22 years now, 6 as hobby and 16 as a professional dancer and teacher) and I am not amused at all, when I hear about things, who harm the dance and make the level sink. I suppose I made myself unpopular, but I had to tell my sincere opinion, because this is a serious faux pas!
 

Lydia

New member
when it is ok to go out on your own

Hi there, i think you are very sweet to ask this.....But i have to agree with the above that 9 months is still a verry short time,i dont understand why your teacher agree,s and tell you to go for it....There is so much to learn stil for you be patient,and spend your time studying this art and than the time will come ,,to go out on your own,, study more if you want to perform...and muuuch more if you want to teach....but dont looze your sweetness on the way....best of luck and happy dancing huggiies Lydia
 

Salome

Administrator
Hi girls, I am fairly new to the Belly Dance scene but have been dancing in various forms since I could walk and Fire Dancing for quite some time....Recently at a party I was doing my thing like you do and some girls asked me if I would teach them... I said I would if they could get ten girls together not expecting them to... I now have a class ... I was wondering about the etiquite of that... is it too soon (have been bd for 9 months) will my instructor be ok with it .... was wondering what you think...
Good topic elly beth. My opinion is this, the beginning level is a crucial one. This is the foundation that students will build everything on so the education needs to be very strong and thorough so they can progress with a solid foundation. Posture, movement families, proper execution, music, purpose, cultural information, essence etc. A teacher should be able to instruct her students on every point. I’ve seen students with under a year of training that show great talent in technique. Which is wonderful! But there is a lot more to the dance than technique. Could you tell your students what style you are teaching, about its essence, what its history is, Oriental dance in the Mid east, its cultural context, can you teach your students about the oud, saz, kanun, tabla etc. how to dance to the music, to taqseem, to the different sounds different instruments produce, how to fulfill purpose as an Oriental dancer, emoting the music, improvisational technique, choreography… Do you feel you could field questions accurately, because there will be questions, about the dance? Can you break down movement in a variety of ways, can you structure a class in a proper progression, what comes before what…? In most circumstances I don’t think 9 months is enough to have a command of most I mentioned. So in the long run the teacher would be doing a kind of disservice to the students and to the dance ultimately. Students trust that the teacher is an expert so your word is gospel. If I were you I might re-think holding a class on my own. I began teaching after 5 years of formal study and my first class I co-taught with a seasoned dancer/teacher. If your teacher is supportive of you teaching, what about approaching her to co-teach with you?
 

Yshka

New member
Hi everyone,
Good question Elly-beth, I've been thinking about this since I've seen it happen in my area from time to time but I cannot do anything else than agree with this and what the other ladies here are saying.

Chryssanthi Sahar said:
Well actually you were! Teaching belly dance after having participating lessons for only 9 months is a joke!!
Even if your teacher approves your teaching abilities, this doesn't really give you the skills to teach. And if I am honest, I even doubt about the professionality of your teacher, if she finds it o.k. that a total beginner (because this is what you are after 9 months of belly dancing) teaches a class on her own. Maybe you are very talented, but still you lack a lot of knowledge and experience. And a last question: do you know at all what style of belly dance you are dancing?
Sorry for the hard words, but I belong to the people who adore this dance and take it very seriously ( I've been dancing all together for 22 years now, 6 as hobby and 16 as a professional dancer and teacher) and I am not amused at all, when I hear about things, who harm the dance and make the level sink.
This is how I feel also. Even with just three years of experience in my case I can certainly say 9 months of experience is not enough. I've been learning and educating myself day by day but still feel I'm not experienced enough to teach(now I also suck at teaching anything lol but that's just me :D )
Dear Chryssanthi, your words may sound harsh to some people, but they are simply true and coming from a highly knowledgeable person.

The fact is that 9 months of experience is way too short to start teaching. You might know moves and would be able to teach some friends to do some moves, no doubt, but fully teaching a class? How on earth could any proffessional teacher approve of this anyway? How about everything else you need to know? Culture, music, dance styles... so much information you need before even thinking of teaching.
One needs to have a solid foundation for teaching, not just 9 months of experience, no matter how good you are or how fine your technique is.

Hearing about stuff like this happening makes me feel like anyone could proclaim to be a danceteacher whenever they feel like it, regardless of what it does to the reputation of the dance, not to mention the foundation the other students will get learning from an underexperienced teacher.. That's my two cents anyway.

My advice to you would be to hold off on teaching, practise and learn till you drop, and ofcourse till you know enough to say that you are really capable of teaching a class, with (IMO) at least YEARS of experience.

Best wishes, Yshka
 
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Hadassah

New member
I'm sure you are a marvelous performer, Elly-beth. However, I have to agree with the others. Teaching at this point in your dance career would be detrimental to yourself, and especially to your students. We've had quite a few discussions on this topic, and we've pretty much come to the consensus that less than five years of dance experience(on average) is much too soon to teach.

Especially in the style of Raqs Sharki(Egyptian), isolations and foundation moves are the CORE in which all other movements are layered onto. If a student never grasps those ten or so core movements, she will never be able to call herself a true bellydancer. And bad habits are hard to break.

I am not a good teacher. I cannot explain the muscles, joints and such,used in each movement. I can show you, but I can't tell you in a concrete way. And beginners need a concrete way to understand the dance.

Perhaps you could focus on teaching workshops on fire exclusively, since this is your forte. I'm sure you have knowledge to lend there, and this would perhaps satisfy your obvious desire to teach. I just would hate for your students to become flustered and upset at you because of your limited knowledge of ME dance. Please hold off for at least another year or two...
Much affection.

Also, you are very lucky your teacher didn't get angry at you for going ahead and teaching a class without her knowledge. This is a MAJOR faux-pas, and pretty disrespectful.. I'm surprised that with 20 years experience, she never told you this...Don't mean to be harsh, but here again, ethics are the core to professionalism.
 
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chryssanthi sahar

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We've had quite a few discussions on this topic, and we've pretty much come to the consensus that less than five years of dance experience(on average) is much too soon to teach..
YES, YES, YES !!! Five years of dance experience is the absolute minimum.


Also, you are very lucky your teacher didn't get angry at you for going ahead and teaching a class without her knowledge. This is a MAJOR faux-pas, and pretty disrespectful.. I'm surprised that with 20 years experience, she never told you this...Don't mean to be harsh, but here again, ethics are the core to professionalism.
Indeed! If a student of mine would have done this after having just 9 months of training, she would have to choose between quitting her teaching ambitions or leave my school and never come back:mad:
 

Hadassah

New member
Chryssanthi - and you would have been completely justified! Some teachers even make their students sign a contract that they will not:
1. Undercut them on gigs
2. Teach unless teaching under their teacher at her studio, with her permission
3. Will not even take gigs without teacher's permission.
4. Will complete sessions in a timely manner, not be late to class, not disrupt.
5. Will not take lessons from other teachers (pretty extreme, but heard of)

My teacher goes by an honor system, but she has been undermined and abused before. There is nothing more disrespectful than undermining another dancer, period. Especially your teacher. And nothing more special than the teacher/student relationship, where the teacher becomes a surrogate mother/mentor, and if she's a good teacher(like mine!) will do anything to help her students be the best dancer they can be. Which includes being an ethical dancer.
 

chryssanthi sahar

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There is nothing more disrespectful than undermining another dancer, period. Especially your teacher. And nothing more special than the teacher/student relationship, where the teacher becomes a surrogate mother/mentor, and if she's a good teacher(like mine!) will do anything to help her students be the best dancer they can be. Which includes being an ethical dancer.
Hadassah, you are absolutely right! That's why I don't let my students sign contracts with the points you mentioned, but I try to make them understand not only the technique, but also the ethics of the dance. Until now I was lucky, none of my students tried to undermine me, but I cannot exclude that something like this happens one day. I do my best though to make them understand that doing such things one harms only herself at the end.
 

Mouse

New member
Have you been taught how to teach the movements safely in order for your students to avoid injury and what stretches etc you would need to do as warm up and cool downs depending on what muscles you are going to be/have been working? My teacher is very good in these areas and it is something I am very grateful for.
 

TribalDancer

New member
"Even if your teacher approves your teaching abilities, this doesn't really give you the skills to teach. And if I am honest, I even doubt about the professionality of your teacher, if she finds it o.k. that a total beginner (because this is what you are after 9 months of belly dancing) teaches a class on her own. Maybe you are very talented, but still you lack a lot of knowledge and experience."

I have to pipe up along with Chrissanthi and others. 9 months is waaaay too early. Even 2 years is waaaay too early. I would entertain earlier than 5 if it was under the eye of a teacher who is training you to teach. And the excuse, "But I am only teaching beginners" is the worst excuse because, as others have said, beginning levels is where you create strong foundations for a new dancer. This is the most crucial time for a new dancer to receive good instruction, with strong technique and safe habits of dance and development. Someone barely more experienced than them, no matter what other dance styles or movement they may have studied, is not a good mentor in their dance development. It's akin to the history teacher who reads a chapter ahead than their students...it's just not right.

I hope you don't feel we're being harsh with you. The difficult thing about being a new dancer is we don't know what we don't know! I am frankly stunned that your teacher encouraged you at this early stage, and I, too, question her professionalism at doing so. And perhaps you are getting some major mixed messages from her about what it takes to teach...in which case, you can hardly be blamed for your ignorance in this.

I wish you the best in whatever transpires. My vote would be to teach fire dancing, if you feel a strong desire to teach. Otherwise, steer your friends who are interested in bellydance toward a more experienced teacher.
 

Yshka

New member
Hadassah said:
My teacher goes by an honor system, but she has been undermined and abused before. There is nothing more disrespectful than undermining another dancer, period. Especially your teacher. And nothing more special than the teacher/student relationship, where the teacher becomes a surrogate mother/mentor, and if she's a good teacher(like mine!) will do anything to help her students be the best dancer they can be. Which includes being an ethical dancer
I agree. I've been blessed to have a wonderful teacher who works in similar ways to yours, Hadassah, and I cannot believe how anyone would dare to undermine his/her teacher for that matter. This is the person who tries her best to teach you well, or as Hadassah puts it eventually becomes your mentor and will try anything to help the students improve in dancing and will teach them what is important in for example dance ethics and cultural matters connected with dance. Ethics is important, that will just never change.

Hadassah said:
I am not a good teacher. I cannot explain the muscles, joints and such,used in each movement. I can show you, but I can't tell you in a concrete way. And beginners need a concrete way to understand the dance.
This is my case too. Besides feeling that my three years of experience is way too short to start teaching, I can also not really explain in a concrete and proper way how every move works, while also checking for the right posture and making sure no one gets hurt. I feel having a teacher who can do all these things properly is the best and most important thing in learning to dance (next to ethics, again).
Therefor I don't feel anyone should be taught by someone who (like me:D ) can't teach properly and is not able to give a strong and good foundation to build the rest of your dancing on.
Though also a beginner teaching beginners sounds wrong to me. How will any beginner give good foundation for other beginners, while she is still a beginner herself?
If you are really wanting to teach, maybe you should instead teach Fire dancing like Tribal Dancer suggested. You've obviously have got much more experience in that field so maybe that might work for you. For your 'students' I can't say much more than that it would be best for them to be taught by a more experienced teacher if they really want to learn.
 

Mariyam

New member
Correct me if I'm wrong (but I'm sure you will pretty much all agree with me!), but a good dancer, even the best dancer in the world, doesn't always make a good teacher anyway. Some people, or dancers for that matter, are born-teachers, others are learned-teachers, but others are just *not* teachers at all.

To me, teaching bellydance is not only about being able to execute a movement to perfection in front of my students, it's mostly about being able to explain, describe, decompose that movement so the student can reach (hopefully) this same level of perfection. It's sharing my passion, my knowledge about the dance, in all its aspects, just like Salome rightfully explained.

I would love to be able to teach dancing one day. I'm currently pursuing a degree in adult education which embraces any kind of teaching to adults. I'm not doing it because I want to teach bd, but I'm sure that if ever I do teach bd (one can dream!), the principles learned in that course would be helpful...

But don't worry, I certainly won't take the plunge and get my own class anytime soon :D
 

Yshka

New member
Dear Mariyam, that is exactly what I meant. I see it in myself all the time. I can't really teach, since I lack the capacity to really break down the movements and explain what to do in a proper way.
I hope I'll learn someday, but until then it's sticking to dancing, learning and performing for me:D
 

Hadassah

New member
I just think, ladies, that if I, as a student - asked my teacher to show me a move, and she couldn't because of her own inexperience - that I would be very flustered as a student. That's my main concern for our nascent teacher here. If I want to see an umi, a camel, a four-point lock, etc - and teach can't produce, well, I just might walk outta class. Not to be harsh, but to call yourself a teacher after nine months? Can you all remember how you were at 9 months? I can! Scary...
 

chryssanthi sahar

New member
Correct me if I'm wrong (but I'm sure you will pretty much all agree with me!), but a good dancer, even the best dancer in the world, doesn't always make a good teacher anyway. Some people, or dancers for that matter, are born-teachers, others are learned-teachers, but others are just *not* teachers at all.
:D
You are absolutely right! A good dancer doesn't necessarily make a good teacher, exactly as a good teacher doesn't necessarily make a good dancer. But still there are enough people who are good in both disciplines. Becoming good though depends on multiple factors:
a) you have to be talented
b) you have to study and train hard
c) you have to gather experience
d) you have to love what you are doing
 
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