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  1. #1
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I admit it. I hate these one-time party/mini-lesson gigs. I won't do them on principle. Rather than rant in a thread that's supposed to be on costuming, I'm taking my threadjack here, but the conversation actually starts in this thread http://www.bhuz.com/forum/belly-danc...ombo-gigs.html.

    Why do dancers leave a coin scarf behind for the guest of honor? After a half-hour lesson that bulldozes through material that takes real students weeks (if not months) to learn, the guest of honor isn't qualified to do anything but make a fool of herself and "seduce her sultan." Why not charge a little more and give her a one-size-looks-like-trash-on-everybody airport special? Does anybody ever have the urge to leave behind a CD of Umm Kalthoum or "A Trade Like Any Other"? Why not? Because we know these people don't really WANT to take us seriously, and we're indulging them anyway?

    Why are dancers--especially dancers who don't speak a Middle Eastern language themselves--teaching their audiences to zaghareet? Ask anyone from over there, and they'll tell you Westerners misunderstand and overuse the zaghareet, and actually, rarely make the sound correctly in the first place. If this is all just a lot of silly, sexy, hen-party jokey time, why not teach them to say "Harder! Harder! Don't Stop!" in Arabic, or maybe "My last boyfriend was bigger!" in Turkish? What a hoot that would be, eh?!

    I don't get this. Do most magicians book parties where they do half a show, teach the audience how they do their tricks, and leave behind a rigged top hat? Do clowns present a bag of balloons to practice tying? Does the gorilla impersonator give the guest of honor a latex mask so she or he can act like a great ape at home? I can see saying, "I'll leave time at the end for everybody to get up and dance with me," but to give them the illusion they're learning something that they can go forth with...? No. Other pros have the discipline and self respect to make their audiences understand that they've trained for years to be good, and if you want the trade secrets and the props, you earn them the hard way or buy them online yourself at your own risk.

    Does anybody ever see actual student recruitment from these gigs, or are we just selling ourselves short AGAIN? These gigs are really only slightly better than those stupid interviews where the dancer has to stand there while a reporter dons a hip scarf and thrashes around while trotting out the usual shtick about how this is a "sexy, exotic dance of seduction." Arguing that these party gigs are essential to our success is like saying that African-American performers needed stage time in front of white audiences enough that it justified wearing blackface. You know how everybody complains that Miles acts like he thought he had to "improve" the dance to make it commercially viable because it wasn't "good enough" as is? Yeah, like that...


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer artemisia_danst's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    i do performance plus workshops for hen nights a LOT. in the summer months almost weekly. i have done dozens and dozens and dozens of these. for over a decade.

    after the performance, i do a one to one and a half hour lesson. in total this is a two hour activity. i teach them several movements, i have them dancing with me and together, i talk about oriental dance, about egypt, about cairo, about the place of bellydance in the middle east, about the culture, abput the music, about the social dance aspect, etc. all while having fun, and yes, we zaghareet. and yes, i go a little faster than in my normal classes and i tell them this. i use arabic music, no western pop whatsoever. i do not use only arabic pop either but more classical stuff also.

    there is mini lessons and there is mini lessons and it is completely possible to give people a taster class, without having mini-integrity. frankly, i take offense.

    besides, these always give me repeat business and have always attracted students to my classes. where they can learn more. these have not given me a student here and there, these have given me a lot of students.

    i charge 225E for these things. it's a full afternoon activity.

    i dont leave behind a cheap hipscarf, i leave behind a voucher for classes or a nice morocan teaglass (the one the bride just drank from). and lots of businesscards.

    i know there are people whose taster classes are different from me, and where they basically learn to shake it to shakira. but it can be done differently.
    Last edited by artemisia_danst; 02-09-2010 at 10:30 AM.


  3. #3
    Ultimate BHUZzer artemisia_danst's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    alternatively there is the 15 minutes of bopping along, which is also sometimes sold as a minilesson, what's wrong with that one? the difference between getting party guests up to dance with you is minimal and dont see the non integrity in that.

    further, i do quite a bit of corporate events. i have several where the ORGANISERS had purchased and handed out free hipscarves to their guests. it doesnt mean "you now will be real bellydancers" it's fancy dress, that's all. it's like the clown handing out those balloons to fold. come to think of it, which yes, they come and teach you in a short class, how to make balloon animals. it's like the clown handing out red noses, or the magician handing out playing cards or bow ties.


  4. #4
    Master BHUZzer andalee-oriental's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Tourbeau, perhaps you need to sit in on several of these nights and watch how other pros do this. I don't think we are selling ourselves short or lacking in integrity.

    I focus most of my gig business on these parties. I give a short performance and then do a 45 minute beginner lesson, complete with a warm up and cool down. Then I let the ladies freestyle with me for a song or two.

    These are so much fun and I think the biggest benefit is that these women learn that belly dancing IS HARD. It won't take just one mini lesson for them to learn how to do it. I always provide information about my classes and I give out cards. I can't say that it has brought students to me, but I do think that it ups the GPs image of belly dancing.
    Last edited by andalee-oriental; 02-09-2010 at 10:37 AM.


  5. #5
    Master BHUZzer aziyade's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    As part of my local hospital's community outreach program, I teach 1-hour introductory classes at their various events. I take it seriously, although we have fun in the class.

    I actually have gotten about a dozen students out of doing these programs, although most don't stay with it for more than a few months. And I've done bachlorette parties twice where almost the whole group signed up for a 6-week class.

    I see your point, but I've also been to little "sampler" cooking classes, sewing classes, cake decorating classes, salsa classes, and painting classes, and I think they serve their purpose -- to give you a taste of what you could be learning and let you see if it's something you want to actually TRY to learn.


  6. #6
    Master BHUZzer aziyade's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by andalee-oriental View Post
    I think the biggest benefit is that these women learn that belly dancing IS HARD.
    EXACTLY! That it takes work and practice, just like anything, in order to be good at it.


  7. #7
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I love the "mini lesson." We do these even at community events (festivals, etc) where we will get people up on stage to learn a few movements. I've taught a taster lesson at our International House at our local University.

    In my opinion, as long as you are qualified to teach, there is nothing at all wrong with teaching a few movements and even leaving behind a fun souvenir in the form of a hip scarf (though i actually often DO leave a purchased, inexpensive CD of middle eastern music instead).

    Short lessons fill several rolls:
    -they dispell myths about the dance
    -they acquaint people with the dance who may never otherwise see it or take a lesson
    -they get people up, moving, and having FUN, which is what they're paying you for
    -they may bring in new students who will go on to learn something new and actually grow in the dance form
    -they educate the public in the actual difficulty of the art form itself

    I'm sure there are other roles mini lessons fill, as well.

    I just recently went to a women's retreat where I taught a 1-hour liturgical dance session. The result was an invitation to teach on a regular basis, which I may pursue. At the same retreat, I was treated to mini lessons in cake decorating, vegetable gardening, self defense, and home organization. There were also mini-lessons in a variety of other activities like watercolor painting, tennis, golf--all things that take years to become accomplished at, but certainly I learned a lot and now I know if I have any interest in those activities!!


  8. #8
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Torbeau, I understand why you dislike what you describe, but it seems you hate the narrow definition of what you have experienced these gigs to be or have put on yourself?
    Please consider for a moment there are other ways of doing things.
    1) I don't leave a hipscarf and purposefully use some classical music in my teaching CD. ..l;, Then again, my warmup in my weekly classes is usually a majency, classical or otherwise sophisticated piece of music (and yup, I give them info on it)
    2) I teach before performing so they have a better understanding of what they are about to watch in the show. They have a much more clear picture of how difficult it is (and they remark so), because they just experienced NOT being able to do it . They also have an understanding of how to be a good belly dance audience (eg: don't sit quietly like at the opera etc). They also have fun and laugh a lot. I consider humor an important part of learning/teaching.
    3) They get little cultural tidbits to open their eyes (if they are not from over there)
    4) I have done these parties for women from "over there" as well. They get to experience how difficult it is too.
    5) NO ONE thinks they've done anything more than have a few moments of fun in experimenting with an art form that is cultural, difficult, takes years to understand (and do well) and also happens to be great exercise. I don't teach any "perform for your sultan" dances or any such ridiculousness.
    6) People always ask about classes and when the gig is close enough to where I teach, yes, I have recruited students
    7) I keep it short. Making people actually work at a party is like herding cats... drunk cats.
    8) I charge enough so that even if I didn't get students it would still be worth my while.
    YMMV


  9. #9
    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I use these kinds of gigs as an opportunity to educate people who may have no other exposure to belly dance. I cover the basic history of the dance, talk about the origins of movements as I teach them, give information on the middle eastern music used, and leave a hand-out with all of that on it as well. To me, it is a chance for outreach through fun. The person booking it probably assumes it will be all "sultan act," but I make sure that it is all "crash course in the reality of belly dance" while keeping it fun for absolute beginners.

    I'm not sure why this kind of thing is linked with a lack of integrity to you. For me, these are a kind of community service for which I am paid, no different than any one-off "intro to subject" classes that they may choose to take to expose them to another art or skill.


  10. #10
    Established BHUZzer CFerhat's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    When I've been at all-female parties with Arab women, there's often that element of showing moves to one another, laughing and enjoying the experience. I think hen parties can capture that mood and I think it's a legitimate experience to share. My classroom lessons are a different animal, because of context, tone and focus.


  11. #11
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Really interesting and thought-provoking stuff, as usual. Even though I'm guilty as charged of some of the practices you mentioned

    My main beef with mini-lessons isn't exactly cultural, but that several people in my area tack a 20-minute lesson to the end of a 30-minute show and don't charge extra for it. So I basically have to compete with people who offer all but the kitchen sink for my standard minimum or less - but that's a business choice I make, as well.

    In theory, I completely understand why it would be ideal to go to a show and just perform, without pulling anyone up to dance, or embarassing the guest of honor, or any of that. When we find out where that utopian world exists, sign me up!

    However, those of us who perform on the party and bellygram circuit also must give our audiences what they want to see - even if we'd rather do a crunchy saidi than the Arabic Happy Birthday song for the umpteenth time. (I refuse to dance to that, BTW. Rachid Taha's version of "Rock The Casbah" satisfies my inner punk rocker and is more conducive to audience participation tomfoolery, anyway!) Whether or not the audience participation segment or mini lessons help our overall cause, 9 out of 10 clients explicitly ask for it. For those of us who make a significant portion of our living (or our entire income) performing for the general public, we can't always afford to ignore what our customers want. That's bad business and bad for the bottom line.

    I think, as Artemisia said, there are things we can do to make the most of audience participation and lessons. When I do bachelorette parties, I keep the tone fun and upbeat, but I teach a full hour lesson and incorporate trivia and culture. After all, many people hire BDers for bachelorette parties because they want something fun yet classy, and don't want to go the sex toy party or male stripper route. Many women sincerely enjoy the learning experience. And, if anything, they come out of it with a new appreciation for the fact that BD is harder than it looks! I think a zaghareet lesson is pretty harmless - the way I see it, it's kind of like teaching a crowd how to clap their hands or do The Wave.

    I think the final irony is that my most unpretentious, seemingly uncultured gigs have produced the greatest response from audiences. Time and time again, party guests thank me for sharing such a unique cultural experience and tell me that they had no idea belly dance was such a beautiful art form. The consumer is NOT stupid. The general public deserves far more credit than many of us give them. People are capable of extracting very positive things out of these silly gigs that some of us take for granted. And that, my friends, is what keeps me dancing!

    :soapbox:
    Last edited by SatinWorship19; 02-09-2010 at 10:37 AM.


  12. #12
    Official BHUZzer gabykings's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by aziyade View Post
    EXACTLY! That it takes work and practice, just like anything, in order to be good at it.
    I've doing these gigs and I see nothing wrong with it. Ladies have fun and the pay good $$... and yes, from my experience they all learned that it's HARD, but still make it fun for them. I only teach a few moves, up-down hips, hip twist, chest lifts and slides, shoulder shimmy and of course hip shimmy, which they LOVE to do. Then I add a basic step touch travelling in different directions and that's a challenge, so they come out like "Wow, that was not easy" but they had fun, laughed, felt liked they danced and we're all happy! ..g.:


  13. #13
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I do them because they're fun.

    And they expose people to our art form in a very positive way.

    I can go to a Pampered Chef party, learn to make an appetizer, and the hostess gets a lovely hostess gift. No one walks away thinking they're a chef now.

    I'm 100% positive that my hen party guests, including the one with the hipscarf, never think they're a pro now. And yes, I do get students from them.

    I'm also positive that everyone who didn't come in with their mind completely fused shut walks away with more of a respect and understanding of the dance than they could have obtained in any other experience they would have willingly gone into.


  14. #14
    Master BHUZzer Lilaravena's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    For me, this is a nice portion of my gigs.

    - I have recruited students for my classes and have also been able to introduce students to instructors closer to them.
    - I charge a hefty fee for this service and have booked more parties from these parties which is always nice.
    - Many of the ladies have commented on how hard the dance is.
    - I do leave the hipscarf behind but for me, I am a vendor so this has been a way for me to advertise my vending business too. I have had several orders from ladies who took up classes and want to order more.

    I have never looked at this as lowering my standards.

    I too only teach like 3-5 moves and that is it. I do not get into complex movements.

    This is no different than someone paying for a fantasy camp like a Skip Barber Racing School or an item on Excitiation.

    It is fun. The ladies are great. Everyone laughs. They get what they want which is to be a bellydance princess even if for only 30 minutes.
    Last edited by Lilaravena; 02-09-2010 at 11:37 AM.


  15. #15
    Just Starting! amidabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post

    However, those of us who perform on the party and bellygram circuit also must give our audiences what they want to see..

    When I do bachelorette parties, I keep the tone fun and upbeat, but I teach a full hour lesson and incorporate trivia and culture. After all, many people hire BDers for bachelorette parties because they want something fun yet classy, and don't want to go the sex toy party or male stripper route. Many women sincerely enjoy the learning experience. And, if anything, they come out of it with a new appreciation for the fact that BD is harder than it looks!
    This exactly.
    I feel that most of my bachelorette clients understand that no one is going to walk out a professional from a mini class. I take this opportunity to give them a simplified taste of what one would learn if they were a dancer in training. It would be ludicrous of me to be sensitive to the level of authenticity at this type of event.,r:;

    Clients seek this route as a classier alternative entertainment, as carrara said ... but in the end, let's be honest ... no one is going to remember if they excecuted the perfect Algerian shimmy at Suzy's bachelorette. All they will remember was that the presentation was classy and that they had fun.

    .. and that's all I expect them to remember from the event. Plus, more often than not, they ask for information about my beginner's course,

    This reminds me of an article written by Shira regarding performances and how you should taylor them to your audience ... because in the end they won't remember the emotion YOU expressed during the Oum Kalthoum piece.. They'll remember the expression on grandpa's face when you wrapped your veil over his head.

    Now ofcourse this is totally different when performing on stage, for a ME crowd, or when giving a genuine class.


  16. #16
    Ultimate BHUZzer SatinWorship19's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by amidabellydance View Post
    This reminds me of an article written by Shira regarding performances and how you should taylor them to your audience ... because in the end they won't remember the emotion YOU expressed during the Oum Kalthoum piece.. They'll remember the expression on grandpa's face when you wrapped your veil over his head.
    I think Shira was also the genius who said "It's a party, not an art-y."

    It's funny how we pit art and entertainment against each other, or view them as mutually exclusive entities. Personally, I think there's a huge amount of artistry involved in being the type of entertainer who can thoroughly engage and captivate her crowd.

    Anybody can get up and do random party tricks, but a real artist leaves a lasting impression!


  17. #17
    Master BHUZzer Sonja2's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    I think Shira was also the genius who said "It's a party, not an art-y."

    It's funny how we pit art and entertainment against each other, or view them as mutually exclusive entities. Personally, I think there's a huge amount of artistry involved in being the type of entertainer who can thoroughly engage and captivate her crowd.

    Anybody can get up and do random party tricks, but a real artist leaves a lasting impression!
    THIS!!! Entertaining IS an art, period. How many people do you know (not talking bd'ers, but in general) that are NOT entertaining.......

    It is HARD to entertain and entertain WELL.


  18. #18
    Advanced BHUZzer LiesaB.'s Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Yes, Tourbeau, your points are on factors that professional dancers (and all the other minis mentioned such as chefs) have considered thoughtfully. Your writing is thought provoking as well. But in the end I do disagree with your conclusions.
    The integrity level as a rule on these boards appears very high to me.
    A comment I will add to the excellent remarks so far: I am often asked to do these type of minis by students, professors, and other folk from "over there".
    Oh, and word of mouth is the top marketing tool. I do get lots of repeat business & students from minis.
    Last edited by LiesaB.; 02-09-2010 at 12:35 PM.


  19. #19
    Advanced BHUZzer phillyraqs's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by SamiraShuruk View Post
    7) I keep it short. Making people actually work at a party is like herding cats... drunk cats.
    Ahhhh, this! I was just talking about this last night with another bhuzzer - those mini lessons don't always last the full hour or 45 minutes. People start to realize they don't want to sweat or they'd rather eat or drink, or that it's hard. Or they'd rather hear about belly dance - my friend was saying how a recent lesson devolved into a Q and A session that was fun and informational and people really got into finding out more about belly dance.

    I usually leave behind a cd of music instead of a hip scarf (like those cds from the dollar store).


  20. #20
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I understand what the defenders of this style of gig are saying, and I have personally experienced my share of good and bad "taster" events, both as an instructor and as a spectator, but that still doesn't address the issue of whether we can't bring enough "fun" to a party without creating the illusion of teaching. (BTW, the "mini integrity" in the title was referring to the question of whether these sorts of gigs diminish the integrity of the dance as an art form, not to anybody as an individual.)

    If you hire a band for a party, the singer doesn't give a free singing lesson at the end. They might have a sing-along or teach you the words to a new song, but they're not in front of the crowd demonstrating proper diaphragm engagement for vocalization, even in a sloppy, half-silly way. They go into the event with the confidence that you can tell from their talent and expertise that not just anyone can get on the stage. IMHO, we undermine that aspect of our own field by constantly lowballing ourselves.

    Certainly there's a dichotomy. We don't want to present the dance as so difficult and scary that people are afraid to try it, but I think it is equally wrong to dumb it down so that someone can walk out of a bridal shower thinking they've learned a dance routine. Notice that I'm not saying anything negative about people having social dancing at the end of their set, or for that matter, teaching a folk dance like the debke to the audience. I'm talking about the specific mini-lesson behavior that is essentially an extension of the booklet that came with those old "How to Belly Dance For Your Husband" albums. When you sell the idea that "anyone can do this," you have made yourself just another "anyone," and not a highly skilled professional entertainer with years of training. Of course, you're better than they are on their first attempt, and they can see that, but where is the reinforcing element? You don't take one class, practice the material, and "Ta-dah! Belly dancer!" Teachers even talk about students traveling through the "I can't do this...I can sort of do this...I'm GOOD...Uh-oh, I'm not as good as I thought I was...I am good at some things, but I still have a lot to learn" development cycle as they evolve as dancers, but the mini-lesson leaves people in the early stages of the process with no structure to complete it, unless they follow up with real lessons...and speaking of which, instead of a hip scarf, why don't more dancers doing these gigs provide a coupon for a six-week term of beginner classes to the guest of honor instead? After all, if you want to belly dance, this is how you actually start learning to do it, not by the mere act of tying something jingly around your butt.

    [Continued...]


  21. #21
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I'm sorry, but I'm far too cynical to assume the average gal at a party understands that owning a hip scarf doesn't put her halfway to being Shakira. There are too many people out there presenting themselves as professional belly dancers who aren't qualified to do so, and a horrifying number of them are getting away with it. The public sees a lot of bad dancing, misleading dancing, and amateurish dancing under the guise of it being the real thing. How could you expect them NOT to look in the mirror and think, "She taught me this; therefore, I know it now"? There are people on the discussion board for the Weight Watchers article (http://www.bhuz.com/forum/health-fit...nce-story.html) thinking they learned belly dancing in their Zumba classes. No. No, you didn't. Learning a few moves, possibly INCORRECTLY, isn't "learning belly dance," and we need to confront this deluded nonsense. We may not be able to control what Zumba teachers say, but there's no excuse to be indulging the same behavior in our own house.

    I'm saying you can create fun and audience participation and awareness of the beauty of the art form without having to shuck some jive about "Now we're all going to learn how to shimmy!" Do your routine and leave them with the curiosity of wondering how you did that with your body. Let them get up and dance with you and figure out by themselves that it isn't as easy as it looks, and when they say, "Can you teach me how to do that?", respond by saying, "Sure, I'd be happy to, every Tuesday night from 7:00-8:00." If you just want to sell a pretend belly dancing fun time, then bring a trunk full of your prettiest costumes and let the crowd play dress up. Don't even bother to work up a performance set, because they'll probably be just as happy and you won't have to invest in years of classes and training to impress them, just a whole lot of money in sequined and beaded clothes.


  22. #22
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I'm constantly being told that MED is a social dance first and foremost in Egypt and Greece. Why not the West ? Don't bulldoze through it, don't leave a hipscarf and don't make funny noises. The 'party' vs 'arty' concept from Shira works well. Folks get happy and the light bulbs go on.. your potential dancers only need a short exposure to see the possibilities, the others now see 'belly dance' differently.

    If I hadn't taken those ridiculous short lessons at a community center 30 years ago I would not have decided to use simple belly dance moves to counteract the effects of a very serious accident ten years ago for which my doctor was only offering pain killers as a remedy. Do folks a favor and get it out there.

    PS Leave a simple coin bracelet or a picture with the teacher ;)
    Last edited by maurazebra; 02-09-2010 at 02:53 PM.


  23. #23
    tamrahennatx
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    I'm sorry, but I'm far too cynical to assume the average gal at a party understands that owning a hip scarf doesn't put her halfway to being Shakira. There are too many people out there presenting themselves as professional belly dancers who aren't qualified to do so, and a horrifying number of them are getting away with it. The public sees a lot of bad dancing, misleading dancing, and amateurish dancing under the guise of it being the real thing. How could you expect them NOT to look in the mirror and think, "She taught me this; therefore, I know it now"? There are people on the discussion board for the Weight Watchers article (http://www.bhuz.com/forum/health-fit...nce-story.html) thinking they learned belly dancing in their Zumba classes. No. No, you didn't. Learning a few moves, possibly INCORRECTLY, isn't "learning belly dance," and we need to confront this deluded nonsense. We may not be able to control what Zumba teachers say, but there's no excuse to be indulging the same behavior in our own house.

    I'm saying you can create fun and audience participation and awareness of the beauty of the art form without having to shuck some jive about "Now we're all going to learn how to shimmy!" Do your routine and leave them with the curiosity of wondering how you did that with your body. Let them get up and dance with you and figure out by themselves that it isn't as easy as it looks, and when they say, "Can you teach me how to do that?", respond by saying, "Sure, I'd be happy to, every Tuesday night from 7:00-8:00." If you just want to sell a pretend belly dancing fun time, then bring a trunk full of your prettiest costumes and let the crowd play dress up. Don't even bother to work up a performance set, because they'll probably be just as happy and you won't have to invest in years of classes and training to impress them, just a whole lot of money in sequined and beaded clothes.
    Wow, you really ARE cynical.


  24. #24
    Just Starting! amidabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    I guess to each their own. We cant disagree with your opinion, because it's how you view things and it works for you and your performance.

    Me.. loving the extra $$ I add on for a 20 minute (4 move) taster :Awink:

    I think the key is to understand that it takes many years of work/learning/understanding to represent yourself as a professional BD. However, when you decide to add " local entertainer" to your resume, you also learn to cater to your event.
    Last edited by amidabellydance; 02-09-2010 at 01:39 PM.


  25. #25
    Just Starting! amidabellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    woops!!! quoted the wrong person .. this was intended for the original post


  26. #26
    Official BHUZzer bellyfina's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    You don't leave a hip scarf so that some bride-to-be can go viral with her Shakira-wannabe video. You do it because, believe it or not, the party (not the art-y!) Does go on when you leave and people are going to continue to talk, laugh, dance, and be festive. You leave the music so that they have a fun soundtrack that extends the theme throughout the rest of the event. And while a gift certificate for classes is a lovely idea, these parties are often surprises for the GOH, who may or may not be interested in studying dance (and may or may not live locally)! That doesn't mean they can't still try it out socially in their sister's living room for an hour.

    I have NEVER left a group thinking ME Dance is easy, but I have brought in repeat business. And while I do personally prefer a regular get-in-get-out set, people looking for the mini-class want MORE audience participation for a longer time and as a group. When I pull people up to come dance during a normal set, it's often just one or a few people at a time.

    If things degenerate into Q and A and posing for pictures, I don't see what's wrong with that either. The last gig I had like this was a big group of middle-aged Indian women, who had a blast and ended up showing me a few dance steps too. I did not walk away thinking I was Aishwarya Rai.


  27. #27
    Ultimate BHUZzer Tourbeau's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by SatinWorship19 View Post
    I think Shira was also the genius who said "It's a party, not an art-y."

    It's funny how we pit art and entertainment against each other, or view them as mutually exclusive entities. Personally, I think there's a huge amount of artistry involved in being the type of entertainer who can thoroughly engage and captivate her crowd.
    I know the expression, but is it relevant here? If you hired Dina to dance at your event, would it somehow be less of a party when she didn't offer an instructional portion at the end? To me "arty vs. party" is shorthand slang for "Don't go around like a self-aggrandized jerk who has deigned to bless the peasants with an opportunity to sample your great talents, even though they could, in no way, be considered worthy of them." Proper implementation of this dance--be it on a formal stage or in a less structured setting--simply isn't accommodating of that attitude, while other dance forms that don't break the fourth wall can afford to be a little more indulgent of abstract creativity. In our case, the ability of the performer to understand that a formal stage requires a different degree of audience interaction than working the floor at a social event is a separate issue. IMHO, if a dancer doesn't understand what's required of a particular gig, she shouldn't be hanging her shingle out to do them.

    Anybody can get up and do random party tricks, but a real artist leaves a lasting impression!
    I'd extend this to say that anybody who had a year or two of dancing under her belt could fill up a gig with a mini lesson, but it takes a real artist to captivate a crowd with only her performance. I'm almost beginning to wonder if this kind of gig didn't evolve to camouflage the fact that a lot of wannabe-pro dancers really don't have the skill/talent/charisma to entertain a passive Western audience for an hour any other way. (Not that this is entirely our fault. American audiences have been conditioned to have very short attention spans, particularly when the subject is "foreign stuff.")


  28. #28
    Advanced BHUZzer Khalilah Samah's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Just to completely over-generalize for a moment, but some people are going to see and believe whatever they want, regardless of what I put out there. That includes what the dance is about, what music is enjoyable and appropriate for the dance, as well as how hard it is to do properly.

    I don't see the point in holding my knowledge hostage simply because of venue. If someone wants to learn how to do a few moves - for whatever reason - and they are paying me or my venue (like a restaurant set), I'm certainly not going to say no. This is a social dance (added: with the exception of stage productions, but I don't believe that's what we're talking about here), and I'd rather teach moves to as many people as possible so that, maybe, the next time they go to a Middle Eastern restaurant, or are guests at another party where bellydance is incorporated, they feel like they can really participate in a meaningful way (not just doing a stupid bump-n-grind to the music because they don't know how to shimmy).


  29. #29
    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Maybe there is a difference of definition at work here? Here is what I am referring to:
    Mini-Class/Show - Pricing equivalent to full show plus private/small group lesson fee
    Order changes based on whether the client requests teaching first or performance first

    1) Arrive
    2) Meet with client and set-up with assistant
    3) Join group and introduce belly dance as an art.
    4) Mention different styles and the amount of study and rehearsal to be a pro dancer.
    5) Start warm-up and discuss how belly dance is viewed in the Middle East
    6) Explain the styles I am teaching while stepping through basic steps with the group.
    a. Hip slides, lifts, drops
    b. Hip circles
    c. Basic shimmy
    d. Intro arms and chest movements
    e. Step hip
    7) Cool down and answer questions
    8) Give hand outs with history, movements, and my contact information for classes/performances
    9) Change into costume
    10) Perform
    11) Picture with group for their scrapbook (as this is usually a special occasion)

    12) Leave

    I don’t really understand how this is in any way telling people that belly dance is easy or that they are now professionals. I have attended these same kinds of mini-lesson/show events from bhangra dancers, jazz dancers, clowns, poi spinners, model coaches, chefs, drummers, and a sketch artist. In none of those cases did any of the participants come away with anything less than an appreciation for the hard work of the artist/presenter.

    Is this the same kind of event you are thinking of? If so, why do you think that the participants will think less of the art form once they know more about it?


  30. #30
    Master BHUZzer andalee-oriental's Avatar
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    Re: Mini lesson = mini integrity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbeau View Post
    I'd extend this to say that anybody who had a year or two of dancing under her belt could fill up a gig with a mini lesson, but it takes a real artist to captivate a crowd with only her performance. I'm almost beginning to wonder if this kind of gig didn't evolve to camouflage the fact that a lot of wannabe-pro dancers really don't have the skill/talent/charisma to entertain a passive Western audience for an hour any other way. (Not that this is entirely our fault. American audiences have been conditioned to have very short attention spans, particularly when the subject is "foreign stuff.")
    Being a good teacher is a skill/talent in and of itself. One does not have to be a good dancer to be a good teacher or vice versa. That said, a dancer should probably be adept at both to pull off these gigs in the proper manner.


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