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Thread: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!




  1. #1
    Just Starting! Gwynie's Avatar
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    :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Hey all! I recently moved to a new town that has literally NO bellydance. at all. what-so-ever. I came from a really large city that had probably a hundred teachers for bellydance and other ethnic styles of dance. I have been SUPER depressed that there was literally nothing out here in the middle of well... the plains of the midwest!

    Anyways, I was sort of approached in a backwards way by the program director at the recreation center in town to teach some classes. I have been dancing for almost 8 years and my training was mainly suhaila salimpour style, but i've also taken classes from probably every teacher i could that just taught "moves" if that makes sense. i was never a performer, but i am a very good teacher and pretty patient with other people's bodies. (haha that sounded funny). So I am going to offer to the community a couple 6-week sessions for beginning bellydance to see if it takes but I just wanted to ask a couple generic questions.

    1. Technique. Do most teachers teach a muscular method for bellydance? I am so ingrained w/ the suhaila style that i don't want students to just leave because it's too hard or technical. sigh i also am completely unfamiliar with another way to teach moves.

    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music? i do not dance egyptian style. i would actually call it more renaissance/gypsy w/ modern fusion. so i tend to dance to... anything. rock music, folk music etc... in fact i don't even know any 'egyptian' or 'greecian' or just generic bellydance music at all. so a lot of my playlist consists of ManMan and Beirut and Beats Antique, etc.. etc...

    3. for each class do you usually just teach 1 move and drill it into the ground? that is what i am used to but i don't want to bore anyone. i crave for the technical but i bet most people just want to have fun. which it can be that, of course. but just want some simple straight up advice about it.

    4. for a "session" of completely new beginners do you put on a performance for the students at all so they can see what they are going to be able to do at some point or is that tacky?

    On a side note, my first class i am probably just going to wing it. i can't imagine i'd run out of moves to teach in 1 day. that would be the most advance, quick-learning people to ever grace the planet.

    don't hate! ♥

    p.s. i have also read the 'teacher' threads here extensively and just wanted to get my own personal take on advice from you veterans :D


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer dunyah's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Think about the hour (or however long the class is) and how to utilize the time. I start with a warm-up that incorporates traveling steps and folkloric steps like Saidi step and grapevine, for about 5 minutes to upbeat music.

    For beginners I then work on posture and on isolating the various parts of the body. I start with the head and neck and work down, i.e. head slides, shoulder rolls, wrist circles, arms, chest circles, undulations, hip slides, shimmies, etc. This can take 20 minutes, especially with beginners.

    Then I pick one or two steps and drill those. Maybe 15-20 minutes.

    I create a short choreography for the beginners so they can get the sensation of actually dancing and stringing moves together. 15-20 minutes

    Cool down at the end of class. 5 minutes

    Announcements, etc. at the end of class. 1-2 minutes

    I like to have some drills, some technique, some new steps and some actual dancing in each beginning class.

    I don't know Suhaila's technique, but I would think for beginners you want to get really basic and try to make it fun for them.

    I'm surprised that after 8 years you don't know anything about Middle Eastern music, but I guess that is the way things are going in the dance. I hope you will continue with your own dance and music education.

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Established BHUZzer Emma's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    1. Technique. Do most teachers teach a muscular method for bellydance?
    Everyone has different ways of learning. Some students need to see the move, some need to feel the move, some need a technical description, some need a mental image...I suggest you get thinking about some other ways to teach otherwise you risk alienating everyone who doesn't learn the same way as you. Suhaila's way is one way. Try watching some instructional DVDs aimed at beginners for more ideas.

    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music?
    Speaking for myself I'd pe pretty disappointed if I went to a bellydance class and didn't hear any Middle Eastern music. But you could get round that by not calling it a bellydance class

    3. for each class do you usually just teach 1 move and drill it into the ground? that is what i am used to but i don't want to bore anyone. i crave for the technical but i bet most people just want to have fun.
    Dunyah has given a nice breakdown of a sample class so I'm not going to repeat what she said. One move in an hour (allowing time for warm up/cool down etc.)? Your students will be bored. Most people start bellydancing classes because they want to have fun. Get them hooked, then hit 'em with the hard stuff!

    4. for a "session" of completely new beginners do you put on a performance for the students at all so they can see what they are going to be able to do at some point or is that tacky?
    I wouldn't call it tacky. If you're teaching a choreography it can be nice to show them the full version, or a more polished performance version. They might enjoy a little demonstration at the end of term.

    On a side note, my first class i am probably just going to wing it. i can't imagine i'd run out of moves to teach in 1 day. that would be the most advance, quick-learning people to ever grace the planet.
    Probably not, but don't underestimate the value of a lesson plan. Going in well prepared gives you confidence and gives your students confidence in you. A teacher who has to spend time faffing around choosing music, or who is obviously making things up as she goes along, or who flits from move to move with no apparent logic - not saying you would do these things! - does not inspire confidence. If you've got a goal in mind and you've thought the steps you have to take to get there your students will be more likely to go on that journey with you.

    It sounds like you're at a good stage to start teaching, and you're giving it a lot of thought which is great. Also consider public lliability insurance, music licensing, dance or fitness qualifications, a first aid qualification if your venue doesn't have a first aider on hand - you didn't mention these in your post so maybe you've got it all covered already, but I thought I should put it out there just in case Good luck!


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    Official BHUZzer Safran's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Dunya and Emma have already given some great ideas - I'll just add a few tidbits from my experience. I am a great believer of prepared lesson plans - I don't always follow what I've prepared to the point, because some things might require more explanation/practice while others don't, sometimes questions arise etc. However, the plan helps me get back on track if anything like that happens. Also, all the plans eventually add up to a bigger picture.

    As to the volume to be taught in one class - for the first classes with beginners I always go over the posture at the beginning of the class. I also choose a few basic movements to work on and vary and combine them for the whole class. I try to make sure I pick something easier (so the student can look at him/herself in the mirror and go - wow, I can do it!) and something more complicates (so they know that the next class won't be boring either :) ). Of course, like with all the classes - have a proper warmup and cooldown, and beginners will need little stretching breaks in between.
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    Advanced BHUZzer Hala Jamal's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    I can relate to living on a one woman island. When I moved here 5 years ago, there was only one other dancer here. Luckily, she is a kindred spirit with similar training and style so I am very blessed. Think of yourself as an ambassador for your artform. Represent it well and embrace your role as educator to the general public.

    [QUOTE=Gwynie;970257]

    1. Technique. Do most teachers teach a muscular method for bellydance? I am so ingrained w/ the suhaila style that i don't want students to just leave because it's too hard or technical. sigh i also am completely unfamiliar with another way to teach moves.

    It's important to mention the muscles used in movements but you don't have to be an anatomy whiz for this. Even just being able to touch the muscle area driving the movement will help students find the move.

    A word of caution, for what it's worth, an advanced dancer friend of mine who is also a kinesiology graduate attended one of Suhaila's intensive courses. She mentioned that Suhaila made a lot of errors in naming and identifying muscles at work and that her understanding of anatomy was weak. I know there are lots of dancers who are diehard Suhaila fans and my friend did take other things from the course but I bring this up as a word of caution when translating information to students. If you don't know 100% what you're talking about, just don't go there. I find Hadia (Hadia's Website) takes the cake with anatomy since she is also a physical therapist. Her warm-up that naturally leads into technique makes it really easy to learn how to dance.

    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music? i do not dance egyptian style. i would actually call it more renaissance/gypsy w/ modern fusion. so i tend to dance to... anything. rock music, folk music etc... in fact i don't even know any 'egyptian' or 'greecian' or just generic bellydance music at all. so a lot of my playlist consists of ManMan and Beirut and Beats Antique, etc.. etc...

    I believe you can only teach what you actually know. So, call your class exactly what it is: modern gypsy fusion dance and use the music you are used to. Leave out the words "bellydance" and "Middle Eastern" because this isn't what you do. That way, you won't confuse or disappoint people and you won't get frustrated trying to present yourself as something you're not.

    3. for each class do you usually just teach 1 move and drill it into the ground? that is what i am used to but i don't want to bore anyone. i crave for the technical but i bet most people just want to have fun. which it can be that, of course. but just want some simple straight up advice about it.
    No, that is how you invite injury: repeating the same motion too much. Plus, it's boring and not actually dancing. You are right, for community courses especially, people just want to try something new and have fun. Making sure they experience some success keeps them happy.

    cont'd


  6. #6
    Advanced BHUZzer Hala Jamal's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    4. for a "session" of completely new beginners do you put on a performance for the students at all so they can see what they are going to be able to do at some point or is that tacky?
    I do it. I think it's inspiring for the students as it gives them a clear goal.

    On a side note, my first class i am probably just going to wing it. i can't imagine i'd run out of moves to teach in 1 day. that would be the most advance, quick-learning people to ever grace the planet.
    I agree that a planned approached is best. Even if you just jot down a logical sequence to learn movements and present 4-8 specific movements each class. Offer plenty of practice to fun music by going through one to the other to keep moving through the whole body. Themes are good. Day one: circles (hip, shoulder, chest, wrist, 3 step turn with varying size).

    Alternatively, I second the short and simple choreography approach. 2-3 minutes max for 6 weeks. Each class add 30 seconds. Start with a thorough warm-up (NO stretching just large, loose, general movements to WARM-up the body by increasing blood flow and elevating the heart rate). Review (or demonstrate the whole choreo in costume on day one) last week's moves. Introduce this week's new moves. Review the choreography to date (talk through, walk through, dance a few times to music). Introduce the new section. Cool down with stretches. Thank you and good-bye!

    don't hate! ♥
    No worries! :-) This isn't that kind of discussion board.

    p.s. i have also read the 'teacher' threads here extensively and just wanted to get my own personal take on advice from you veterans :D[/QUOTE]
    Good for you! Research and discussion is sooo important. Best of luck to you.


  7. #7
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    I have been SUPER depressed that there was literally nothing out here in the middle of well... the plains of the midwest!
    Shira has 11 dancers listed in Kansas, so perhaps there are others hiding in plain sight. There may be more going on in your region than you have located yet. Maybe twenty years ago, it would be rare to find another dancer that far off the beaten path, but with the Internet, you can live in isolation and still be plugged into the dance community.

    i was never a performer[...]
    Of all the topics here, this may concern me the most. It sounds like saying you're an actor who's never actually been in a play. A big part of a performing art is the performing part, and while someone without that experience can still bring valuable insights to the classroom, it's hard to be competent as a student's only teacher with that kind of hole on the resume. You can't teach from experience you don't have. The sort of issues that come up when you dance in front of an audience (things like how you present yourself physically and how you manage the emotional interactions) aren't insignificant, and they don't magically happen, and students need to start working on them early to set good habits. You don't know who is going to come to your classes. You could be the first teacher of someone who wants to go on to further study, and you don't want to be that dancer's "OMG, my first teacher didn't..." story. It's important to start shoring up this lack of expertise as soon as you can and as best you can. Perhaps the "Secrets of the Stage" DVDs would help? Can you get yourself to events where you'll have performing opportunities?

    1. Technique. Do most teachers teach a muscular method for bellydance?
    Some teachers are very physiology oriented and some aren't at all. For an informal beginners' class, I wouldn't go too deeply into that sort of technique, unless you are sure you are an expert in it and your students want that level of information.

    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music?
    As long as you are not calling what you do any sort of Middle Eastern ethnic dance, use whatever music you want. It wouldn't be my personal preference, and I think in terms of being well rounded in your own education, it would be beneficial to have some experience in this arena, but everybody has different taste in music. You may encounter some political baggage with "Gypsy," especially if you are doing your own fusion/fantasy style, so be aware of that, though.

    4. for a "session" of completely new beginners do you put on a performance for the students at all so they can see what they are going to be able to do at some point or is that tacky?
    I think this is helpful, especially if you do not teach stereotypical "belly dance" (bedlah + Middle Eastern music).

    [More...]


  8. #8
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    On a side note, my first class i am probably just going to wing it.
    Please don't. You want to be flexible in terms of the presentation, because you don't know how well this group will absorb the material, but winging it usually looks disorganized, especially if you haven't had a lot of teaching experience before. You also don't want to be someone's "Yeah, I tried belly dance, but the teacher was doing this stuff that didn't look anything like what I expected, and she didn't have a lesson plan, and it felt like she didn't know what she wanted to teach, so I didn't go back..." story, either. If you're not going to feed into their expectations (and honestly, beginners can have some strange expectations anyway), at least look like you are really on top of your own material.


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    Master BHUZzer tigerb's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music? i do not dance egyptian style. i would actually call it more renaissance/gypsy w/ modern fusion. so i tend to dance to... anything. rock music, folk music etc... in fact i don't even know any 'egyptian' or 'greecian' or just generic bellydance music at all. so a lot of my playlist consists of ManMan and Beirut and Beats Antique, etc.. etc...

    =======

    You took classes for 8 years but don't know any "generic" bellydance music?

    is stunned

    I didn't know there were that many teachers who totally skipped over ME music.
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  10. #10
    I could get used to this! quamar 's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    I am not a teacher, still a student (although I have taught a couple of beginner's class as a sub), but from my perspective and an opinion of a limited n=1....




    1. Technique..
    I would say don't overwhelm your students with a lot of jargon, be able to break down a move, make sure everyone is in the proper and safe posture, and be prepared to explain something in a different way if you have to. Depending on if this is semestered or drop in, you have to adapt to the situation - semestered gives the luxury of building up the skills, drop in you may have to reset back to easy depending on how many you have as returns or new arrivals. From what I have seen from students, for most of them many of the moves will be hard because they haven't moved their bodies in that way before. You occasionally get a natural, but for the rest of us we have to build up to the point where we can move without having to stop and think about it.


    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music?
    I was never offended. Somehow I evolved into a flamenco arabe myself, most of my music has a latin infusion. I think some people may be expecting more traditional music at the start, and the traditional stuff might be a better starting point and then branching out, but I was fortunate enough to get a teacher who was open to different styles. It is perhaps good to teach which types are more appropriate for dance though - I have seen dancers go for the rock type songs, and it was confusing to the eye to watch.

    3. for each class do you usually just teach 1 move and drill it into the ground? .
    The problem with drilling something into the ground is that there is a point where the drilled bit of anatomy gets overly tired and just won't function. The natural tendency then is to rest and you won't get the optimal move out of the student (which can be frustrating for a student - or at least for me it was). It becomes a little counter productive. When do you stop? That is an art, knowing when your students are about to revolt, LOL!

    4. for a "session" of completely new beginners do you put on a performance for the students at all so they can see what they are going to be able to do at some point or is that tacky?
    You know, when I took a flamenco workshop last year, at the end the teacher very graciously danced for us the routine she had patiently taught us, and I was thrilled to the moon and it really cemented what I had learned. I don't personally think it is tacky.

    On a side note, my first class i am probably just going to wing it..
    Different styles. I walked in with a lesson plan on the couple of times I subbed, but that is me. It is good to get a lay of the land too, see who you are working with.

    Good luck, and I wish you many enthusiastic and talented students!


  11. #11
    Official BHUZzer Roshanna's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    I began teaching a beginners class this Spring, and I can't overemphasize the importance of having clear lesson plans. I don't necessarily always stick to them, and I make them flexible, but especially when you are new and still gaining confidence as a teacher, the last thing you need is to be unsure of what you are going to do. I also plan exactly which music I will use for each section of the class (with appropriate tempo & mood etc), and make a playlist to use with each lesson plan.

    I've typically introduced 2 or 3 new movements each week and maybe also an arm or floor pattern, and spent 5-10 minutes on simple combinations or improvisation exercises that use the new movement vocabulary as well as revising things from previous weeks. You'll also need to think about what order to teach moves in - it makes sense to begin with the 'building block' movements like horizontal slides, hip rocks etc, before trying to teach more complex moves. Many movements will also require a level of muscle control and coordination that many beginners just won't have to begin with, so you will need to think about how to prepare them for more complex technique.

    continued...


  12. #12
    Ultimate BHUZzer ssipes's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Call what you do world fusion dance.

    Giving your students the idea they are "belly dancing" without the essential cultural connection to the music would be doing them a huge disservice.
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    Official BHUZzer Roshanna's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    I'd personally be very disappointed if a teacher didn't use or know about Middle Eastern music and would not continue with the class, although as a complete beginner I wouldn't have known any better. I do think that if you decide to teach, this is something you need to commit to educating yourself about. Even if you prefer a fusion style yourself, you have a responsibility to your students to give them a basic level of background knowledge. I strongly feel that a teacher who doesn't use Middle Eastern music should not label their classes as Middle Eastern dance or bellydance.

    I'm also confused by the 'renaissance/gypsy' label, as there is to my knowledge no such thing as 'renaissance' style bellydance (Arabic dance would have been virtually unknown in Europe during the renaissance), or 'gypsy' bellydance (there's Turkish Romany dance, but that's not bellydance, and possibly Ghawazee...). My own feeling is that teachers need to have a firm understanding of the origins of their own dance style (even if it is fusion), and the cultural background of the dance as a whole.

    This isn't to say that you shouldn't teach, but that if you do choose to, then you need to take responsibility for continuing your own development as a dancer, especially in the areas where you currently lack knowledge or experience. As a teacher, you will effectively be representing this art form to the general public, and you need to be as prepared as you can to give a good and accurate impression.

    I can't think of a better place to start than Shira's site:
    Music Index to Articles About Near Eastern Music on Shira.net (Site Map)
    General teaching advice Index to Articles on Shira.net With Advice Related to Belly Dance(Site Map)
    Cultural background: The Oldest Dance? Really??? Fact Or Fantasy? Misguided Beliefs About Belly Dancing
    Morocco's book is also an excellent source of information.


  14. #14
    Ultimate BHUZzer bintbeled's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    You're getting some excellent advice here. When formulating lesson plans, you might want to ask yourself what you think your students should be able to do at the end of a series of classes. Then you can break the tasks into chunks and formulate your lesson plans from there.
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  15. #15
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    I have been dancing for almost 8 years and my training was mainly suhaila salimpour style, but i've also taken classes from probably every teacher i could that just taught "moves" if that makes sense.
    What do you mean "that just taught 'moves'"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music? i do not dance egyptian style. i would actually call it more renaissance/gypsy w/ modern fusion. so i tend to dance to... anything. rock music, folk music etc... in fact i don't even know any 'egyptian' or 'greecian' or just generic bellydance music at all. so a lot of my playlist consists of ManMan and Beirut and Beats Antique, etc.. etc...
    You've been taking classes for 8 years and you know nothing about Middle Eastern music? At all? No Egyptian, no Turkish, no Lebanese? What in the bleep is wrong with your teachers? I'm sorry, but if you don't know anything at all about at music from at least one of these regions, then you yourself don't know anything about belly dance. In saying this, I'm not attacking YOU, because it's not your fault your teachers were flawed.

    If you really don't know anything about Middle Eastern music, and if you don't have much performing experience, then I would urge you to NOT claim that you're offering "belly dance classes". Instead, I'd recommend that you call your class a "dance exercise" class. That would free you up to teach the drilling format that you're comfortable with, it would enable you to use whatever music you like, and it would eliminate the student expectation that they'll learn to perform belly dancing.

    I'm not opposed to people performing fusion, but there's something fundamentally wrong with a teacher whose students come away after 8 years of "belly dance" classes knowing nothing at all about Middle Eastern music.
    Last edited by *Shira*; 04-14-2012 at 04:43 PM.


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    duplicate entry, sorry
    Last edited by *Shira*; 04-16-2012 at 09:38 AM.
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  17. #17
    Advanced BHUZzer Karnak's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    As a student, I really appreciate it when my teachers are well prepared and make quality lesson plans. (I’m an art teacher, and I determine the objectives first and then create lesson plans that align to the goals.) When a teacher is disorganized and “winging it,” I feel like I’m wasting my time. Now, if you are planning on teaching a choreography, then presenting your dance to the students so they can see the end result is a good thing. As for the breakdown of choreography, I have seen some great instructors teach a movement, drill it, teach a new move, drill it, and then string the two moves together. Gradually building on this progression, they can teach choreographies with a combination of drilling and actual dancing.

    I know other people have expressed their concern about your lack of knowledge of Middle Eastern music, but I feel like I have to comment too. I had a couple Middle Eastern CDs before I even took my first dance lesson, and I would disappointed if I attended a belly dance class that didn’t include any belly dance music. (The same goes for other dance styles. I quit taking swing dance lessons from an instructor who has no clue about swing, big band, or jazz music.) It looks like it’s time to expand your music collection and take a workshop or two on Middle Eastern rhythms/drumming.


  18. #18
    Master BHUZzer ozma's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    If you don't use some ME music you will be shooting yourself in the foot.

    I know you may be worried about ME music being too wonky for students who might just want to "have fun" but part of the fun for beginners in a bellydance class is the feeling they have that they are doing something new, foreign, and...dare I say...exotic. If they didn't want a taste of something new and unfamiliar then they'd probably be taking an aerobics class or a more western-music oriented dance class that used music they already feel comfortable with.

    There is plenty of ME pop music that will provide a steady beat, not feel too difficult, and give you a way to provide them with comfort and a new experience. And if the music does involve some tempo/rhythm changes then use it more often, point out "Hear this change? Let's do X now" so they get to know it and feel excited about starting to be able to hear changes and not being confused.

    I'm not saying to toss the Beats Antiques totally, because some of that is great for drilling and can provide moments where you can wonk-on a bit about the ME rhythm the music is structured on.

    The thing you really need to do for yourself is to tap into what you think your strengths are and what unique aspect you bring to a class. It sounds like your skill set of drill-oriented move-oriented would work better in a location where there is already a base of students who want to cross-train or drill...like at a studio with multiple teachers where a gap of "drills for dancers" could be filled.


  19. #19
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    1. Technique. Do most teachers teach a muscular method for bellydance?
    When introducing moves I show them how I would like them to look in a few months and then show them how they can begin getting them. For instance, I show them how to produce hip rocks by bending and straigthening their legs but explain why eventually they will need to move their hips with their obliques and QLs; I teach horizontal eights initially by pushing their legs around and explain the reasons why it isn't a long term plan.

    The problem is very few people actually know how to fire specific muscles. Many are struggling to get any torso movement. You can yell "fire your left internal oblique and your right external oblique until you are blue in the face - it won't help. But get them moving and you can gradually introduce more subtle movement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    2. music. do you find people get offended by non-traditional music? i do not dance egyptian style. i would actually call it more renaissance/gypsy w/ modern fusion. so i tend to dance to... anything. rock music, folk music etc... in fact i don't even know any 'egyptian' or 'greecian' or just generic bellydance music at all. so a lot of my playlist consists of ManMan and Beirut and Beats Antique, etc.. etc...
    First, for me, if it isn't Middle Eastern music you are not "belly dancing" - you are just using belly dance vocabulary - or even just doing jazz. Second, the ear has to be trained as much as anything else. There is no point saying "my students don't understand Arabic music" if they have only listened to a few tracks once or twice; had a teacher that dismissed it as "boring; did not have a teacher that could lead them into it "hear the call and .. now here is the response se how it XYZ"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    3. for each class do you usually just teach 1 move and drill it into the ground? that is what i am used to but i don't want to bore anyone.
    I introduce one or two new moves each session. I drill these for about 3-4 minutes. You don't gain a lot from new students by doing it forever if they don't have the technique or endurance to do it correctly. You can end up drilling in bad habits. I also revisit the early moves, adding another level each time eg week one get some sort of hip rock happening, week two start working on the vertical movement (ie remove the sideways slump), week three push isolating the torso from the hips.

    Then I work the moves in combinations; do some improvisation; start layering etc
    Last edited by kashmir; 04-15-2012 at 12:50 AM.
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  20. #20
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    4. for a "session" of completely new beginners do you put on a performance for the students at all so they can see what they are going to be able to do at some point or is that tacky?
    I don't think it is tacky - but I do think its limited as you can only show them your style - or one of them. Instead I start off with 15 minutes of clips (also useful for those who get lost on the first day or don't read I don't do EFTPOS and have to go down to the bank)

    On winging it - don't. That isn't teaching. Have a good sit down and think about what you think they should learn in those first few hours. Now, which bits are built on other moves? For instance, no point in teaching a hip drop until theu can do a (safe) hip rock. Write down the order that you need to teach the moves. Think about how you will revisit each. Think about how you will teach each for different styles of learner. Jot down some extensions for those who pick things up fast.

    Allow for a cardio-vascular warmup - doesn't need to be sophisticated and a cooldown. Now, realistically, how much teaching time do you have? Now distribute your material. Oh, and select approriate music for each exercise - tempo, rhythm, mood.
    Last edited by kashmir; 04-15-2012 at 12:55 AM. Reason: winging it
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  21. #21
    Master BHUZzer ozma's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post

    1. Technique. Do most teachers teach a muscular method for bellydance? I am so ingrained w/ the suhaila style that i don't want students to just leave because it's too hard or technical. sigh i also am completely unfamiliar with another way to teach moves.
    If you really did make use of all the teachers available in your big city then I'm sure you've been exposed to others ways of explaining and teaching moves...but perhaps they didn't resonate with you the way what you describe as "as muscular method" did.

    The truth is that if you're going to be a teacher, you're going to have to have a complex mental stash of many ways to describe/teach/show moves. No one way will work for the majority of your students and you'll always have to be ready to adjust.

    You've been offered a teaching job but you might not be ready to teach. You describe it as "Anyways, I was sort of approached in a backwards way by the program director at the recreation center in town to teach some classes. " and that doesn't sound like you're actually excited about teaching dance.

    If you say no now it won't be your last chance. If you want to teach then you owe it to your future students to travel and take more workshops and classes (and your instructional DVD library) in which, as a student, you focus not just on what you're learning but how you're learning.


  22. #22
    Ultimate BHUZzer *Shira*'s Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Ozma makes a good point - a library of beginning belly dance DVD's can be very valuable to a brand-new teacher. Of course, DVD class structures don't match the format of a face-to-face class because they have to fit their instruction into just an hour of time. But they'll give you a variety of ideas on how to explain the same move, and a variety of ideas on how to teach students to put the moves together into a dance. The best ones will use Middle Eastern music and identify the song titles so you can start filling that particular gap in your knowledge.

    I would recommend that you NOT use Suhaila's DVD's because you've already had a huge amount of exposure to her style and teaching methodology. Instead, look for DVD's that present the material in ways that are different from what you're used to so you can learn from them.
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  23. #23
    Just Starting! Gwynie's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Hi everyone! Thanks so much for all the responses! I have read everyone's posts and you each have some interesting things to say. As per my disappointment a lot of you got carried away w/ the tiny bit of history about myself. As it takes a lot of wordage to fully describe anyone's personally training and background.

    I guess it's hard to explain or ask something without just writing a book and get it published! :P

    Anyways, the whole Suhaila thing... she's a cabaret dancer, traditionally, her style is centered souly around cabaret actually. Maybe not many of you have ever seen her dance or taken her workshops, doesn't matter. I am a trained cabaret dancer. But I took what I learned and shaped it into the way I prefer to see bellydance. Which is primarily a conglomerate of tribal, ats, cabaret, african, folkloric, middle eastern, whatever. But the core is straight up bellydance. Trust me.

    To clear something up that everyone seemed to have mentioned. I HAVE heard hundreds of Middle Eastern tracks and live music. That would be unheard of not to. I do have to say that it does not resonate w/ me as much as more folk music does. In class, of course I have always danced w/ middle eastern influenced songs, and sometimes there would be a Shakira song thrown in there (haha). Actually almost never did we drill to anything I personally prefer. I just don't have the brain to memorize or even remember names of the musicians and their albums and songs, as they are usually not in English to start with. I do have a selection on my computer that I've collected, but a lot is very drum solo-ish, way too hard for a newbie for sure. So at a loss as to what good music selection with Middle Eastern influence would be for using in class.

    As for the gypsy/renaissance remark, has no one ever been to a renaissance faire? They are usually rampant with bellydancers and flame throwers and other fun & bawdy performers. I HIGHLY recommend attending one! And they do NOT dance cabaret (even though usually 100% of them are cabaret dancers at heart), it's just usually a "troupe" that dances to more drums and violins, but it's still bellydance as in all the good stuff is there - the hips and shimmies and camaraderie between women, etc. Middle Eastern music is a very narrow line to say if you don't dance to that then it's not bellydance. If you are a ballet dancer you do not have to dance to classical music, because you have in your heart the know-how of a ballet dancer so you can essentially use only the wind to dance if that is what you wish.

    I did gather a list of music I thought appropriate for teaching specific moves for beginners, but it's pretty limited. I am not going to 'necessarily' wing it entirely. I was thinking more I'll use this song to teach this move, etc. But I don't know how one is supposed to say well we'll do this for 10 minutes, or should we do it for 20? And at that point said song I chose is way over with. :P

    continued below....
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  24. #24
    Just Starting! Gwynie's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    continuation of above...

    A lot of people mentioned doing several moves in one class so as not to overstress any one muscle group. Does anyone have an example of a typical class that is more thoroughly broken down?

    I.E. Warm Up - Do Shimmy Practice to loosen hips and introduce the movement (even if they all fail miserably the first 5 times!) - Hip Drops (? how long does one teach this?) - Do I need to move on to a different part of the body and do chest now or can i do hip squares or walking w/ hip drops instead of stationary? - etc etc. This is my MAIN DILEMMA.

    To be honest, I just don't remember how the class was structured when I was a true beginner. I did go back to beginner's class after doing the intermediate and advanced for so long just to go back to basics but I just forget if we only did 1 thing or if we did 10. :P

    so anyways, I'm sorry if anyone was "offended" by my non-traditional methods that I was going to release to the world. and that maybe I'm not what any of you call a bellydancer. But to me I am and always will be. There is more to bellydancing than it's history, created by women none of you know from many cultures that we can't even begin to list off all the originating countries. I find it very important to be open to any one woman's variety and want to teach something loose enough that you can do what I did and create your own little niche.

    Also, in my area that 11 teachers thing, there is not. There is 1 teacher 1.5 hours away from here and a troupe about 3 hours away but all the others reside about 4 hours away from me, as I did go on Shira.net but I also looked up all them in the list and even in the surrounding states and some aren't even findable by their web addresses anymore. :(

    Thanks for all the advice though there is way too much to re-mention, but I'll definitely think about not getting "too" technical, but I am definitely going to be showing them that you need to be moving w/ said muscle and not just "throwing the hip out there" because I really do not want anyone to hurt themselves. stickin' to my guns on that one.

    for the ♥ of shimmy!
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  25. #25
    Master BHUZzer beafarhana's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    I.E. Warm Up - Do Shimmy Practice to loosen hips and introduce the movement (even if they all fail miserably the first 5 times!) - Hip Drops (? how long does one teach this?) - Do I need to move on to a different part of the body and do chest now or can i do hip squares or walking w/ hip drops instead of stationary? - etc etc. This is my MAIN DILEMMA.

    To be honest, I just don't remember how the class was structured when I was a true beginner. I did go back to beginner's class after doing the intermediate and advanced for so long just to go back to basics but I just forget if we only did 1 thing or if we did 10. :P
    Well you've just had advice here- Dunyah gave a pretty awesome class breakdown. There are a gazillion "starting to teach" threads where there is advice on structuring your dance class. There are a gazillion "warm up" threads (and if a person doesn't know how to do a warm up, then really that person has no business teaching dance). You really want us to do all your lesson planning for you?

    If you were in the UK, there are several BD teacher training options that can help with this sort of dilemma. Maybe you should try getting back in touch with your old teachers, and asking them to mentor you through this process.


  26. #26
    Just Starting! Gwynie's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by beafarhana View Post
    Well you've just had advice here- Dunyah gave a pretty awesome class breakdown. There are a gazillion "starting to teach" threads where there is advice on structuring your dance class. There are a gazillion "warm up" threads (and if a person doesn't know how to do a warm up, then really that person has no business teaching dance). You really want us to do all your lesson planning for you?

    If you were in the UK, there are several BD teacher training options that can help with this sort of dilemma. Maybe you should try getting back in touch with your old teachers, and asking them to mentor you through this process.
    no need to be condescending and rude. i saw her post. i do not intend to have anyone make my "lesson plans" just wanted some guidelines because as any new teacher would be i have the fear of failure. you must have all your ducks in a row or you wouldn't have responded in such. so congratulations to you. where did you get the idea that i do not know how to warm up.

    maybe coming here wasn't the best idea. thanks all for advice. but it appears everything i say will be taken the wrong way.

    take care.
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  27. #27
    Ultimate BHUZzer kiyaana's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Yes! Just because someone else thinks you should teach a class doesn't mean you actually should do it. (Saying that to all of us, not just you, Gwynie.) I held off for several years because I wanted to have more training as a teacher of dance. (I have certification as a classroom math teacher and that took years, why would I treat teaching dance any differently?)

    Pick a starting date for classes - say, September (Fall is a good time to start new classes, by the way, Spring/Summer is tough) or even January, and get busy. Look for some sort of instructor training (I opted for SharQui with Oreet since the timing and location was convenient). Investing in your dance-teacher education will help you feel better prepared plus justify asking for a decent pay rate. By waiting at least five months, you can organize your website, start advertising, etc. to give your classes the best start possible.

    Here are a few teaching courses coming up:
    Tamalyn Dallal's Teacher Training - June - NYC
    SharQui - July 27-29 - NYC
    Hadia - (I don't see anything listed on her site, but it doesn't hurt to contact her.)

    I know there are more . . . if I come across them, I'll post. You can also contact someone whose teaching style you have admired and see if she/he is willing to do a long-distance training of sorts.


    Quote Originally Posted by ozma View Post
    If you really did make use of all the teachers available in your big city then I'm sure you've been exposed to others ways of explaining and teaching moves...but perhaps they didn't resonate with you the way what you describe as "as muscular method" did.

    The truth is that if you're going to be a teacher, you're going to have to have a complex mental stash of many ways to describe/teach/show moves. No one way will work for the majority of your students and you'll always have to be ready to adjust.

    You've been offered a teaching job but you might not be ready to teach. You describe it as "Anyways, I was sort of approached in a backwards way by the program director at the recreation center in town to teach some classes. " and that doesn't sound like you're actually excited about teaching dance.

    If you say no now it won't be your last chance. If you want to teach then you owe it to your future students to travel and take more workshops and classes (and your instructional DVD library) in which, as a student, you focus not just on what you're learning but how you're learning.
    Last edited by kiyaana; 04-15-2012 at 11:58 AM.
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  28. #28
    Master BHUZzer Monica's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Perhaps you should take a step back from this thread, give yourself six months to a year to prepare for teaching (there is no need to rush into it), and revisit it. Don't let the fear of failure let you see rudeness where I am 100% positive none was intended!

    I have been teaching weekly classes for a long time, and I still learned a lot from this thread. I'm always looking to improve and tweak things as a teacher. The advice here is really, really good. Taking some of it is not 'letting other people make your lesson plans', it is strengthening yourself as a teacher or future teacher. Teaching is hard work. There is a lot of joy and satisfaction and fun one can in it, but once you start teaching it is something you have to do when you are sick, when you are uninspired, and when you are plain tired. You have to want to be there, and you have to want to be there for whoever else show up to learn from you, whether there are 5 of them who have never danced a day in their lives or 500 of them who think you are the bees knees--they are what is important.

    Consider taking the time to focus on music. NOT to learn the Arabic or Turkish name of every darn song out there a belly dancer might ever use, but maybe...five songs that you can use in class. Learn those well--the musical structure, a translation of the lyrics, a few versions. No one goes in to anything knowing everything. Small steps towards broader knowledge are just fine, and will only strengthen your possible future as a teacher.

    I still call two of my own former teachers for occasional advice, though admittedly these days it is more conversational or focused on the business side of things. They helped me start teaching. Maybe you can mentor with one of your former instructors long distance as sort of a teacher-training program. Ask, it certainly can't hurt. If they are not able to provide you with what you need, maybe go take a weeklong with an admired instructor, or go to a festival and take multiple classes with all sorts of teachers aimed at different levels to see how they structure their classes, what you like and don't like about their movement descriptions, how they use music, how they warm-up and cool down, or how long they spend on one step or concept.

    And, perhaps, don't worry so much about creating your own niche or your own thing via teaching. You can do that through your on dancing. And keep in mind that many of the dancers who have created their 'own thing' have considerable roots in fairly traditional styles. Most people who go to your class will not be there for looseness in structure or to create their own niche, as you said was important to you. Give them solid, honest, honestly-labeled, and clear instruction and let them find their own path from something that is based in reality, not fantasy.

    Best of luck to you!


  29. #29
    Advanced BHUZzer yameyameyame's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwynie View Post
    Middle Eastern music is a very narrow line to say if you don't dance to that then it's not bellydance. If you are a ballet dancer you do not have to dance to classical music, because you have in your heart the know-how of a ballet dancer so you can essentially use only the wind to dance if that is what you wish.
    If you are a ballet dancer, perhaps you might still be doing ballet if you are dancing to something other than classical music but that's only because you've spent years, decades, drilling and dancing to classical music. You can't just say you've "heard it a million times" but "it does not speak to you" therefore you are not going to use this music to practice and perform. They'll laugh you out of your auditions.

    Show me ONE professional ballet dancer who does not understand classical music, who does not know the names of relevant composers and compositions, who does not like classical music. I've never heard of such a thing. Show me one ballet teacher who does not use classical music in their classes and I'll show you a ballet teacher who does not know what she is doing.

    Music is an integral part of dance whether you like it or not. We seem to be the only dance form that refuses to acknowledge that. Belly dance can be done to anything, and still be called belly dance, right? Well, maybe. If Randa Kamel decided to dance to "Rock it Like a Hurricane" in her usual style it would still be belly dance. But that's after growing up in the culture, after years of training and understanding this dance and its music and its connection to its intended music. It doesn't mean someone else with little to no training can just do this dance from scratch without the music and still call it belly dance. It'll be, at best, incomplete.

    Are we really that lazy, that we can't go through the trouble of understanding the music that corresponds to our dance? We'd rather make up styles and "mix it all up" before we can even do each thing individually and understand what we're doing? Why is it so hard to accept that in a belly dance class, the appropriate Arabic (or Turkish) music will be used? When I took salsa class I expected salsa music. When I took Flamenco class I expected Flamenco music. When I take ballet classes I expect classical music. Why should belly dance be any different?
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  30. #30
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: :D General New Teacher Advice Needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by yameyameyame View Post
    Music is an integral part of dance whether you like it or not. We seem to be the only dance form that refuses to acknowledge that. [...]

    Are we really that lazy, that we can't go through the trouble of understanding the music that corresponds to our dance? We'd rather make up styles and "mix it all up" before we can even do each thing individually and understand what we're doing? Why is it so hard to accept that in a belly dance class, the appropriate Arabic (or Turkish) music will be used? When I took salsa class I expected salsa music. When I took Flamenco class I expected Flamenco music. When I take ballet classes I expect classical music. Why should belly dance be any different?
    I suspect the GP's expectations are being dragged down in other dance forms, too. Honestly, I don't want to see dancers doing the quickstep to Lady Gaga or the Viennese waltz to Kelly Clarkson, but I'm not the producer of a televised dance competition. Obviously somebody thinks the music that goes with those dances needs to be modernized, and audiences are learning by following those examples. (Didn't "Flashdance" teach the world that you could come out of nowhere, dance to Irene Cara, and get into a prestigious conservatory?) It's not only happening to us. We just don't have the momentum of a strong educational history to push back with that some of these other dances do.
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