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Written by: Aviva - Dancers of the Desert


Making the first call

So you are ready to make the call to enquire about classes in your area.

Do research; does the studio have a website? Have a look at it, classes that are offered their policies etc.

Then call.

Not just one, call at least two or three, if you can find two or three in the area that you are looking at.

Ladies, please be specific when enquiring
- State in which are or province and area you are looking for classes
- Ask what they charge
- Ask what the teachers qualifications are and where they have trained.
- How long they have been teaching and dancing
- State any health problems that you might have, including pregnancy Not all teachers know how to work with pregnant ladies, please be careful, for the health of your baby and for you!
- What to wear to a class
- What is the address only if you intend on going
- Do they have a website you can look at?

What can you learn from the teachers response to your questions?
Remember that you are speaking to, what should be, a trained professional. She should be patient, friendly and helpful.
First impressions last and speaking to a rude or negative person can tell you a lot about how she will be approaching her classes.

Try-out Classes

Firstly there should NEVER be more than 20-25 this is a real maximum pushing your luck number! Students in a class.

How on earth can you get quality tuition from a lady whose attention is so divided? I personally set the limit at 15.

Try-out classes are an excellent way to determine, firstly whether you like Belly Dancing and secondly whether you like the teacher, her methods and style of instruction and whether you will benefit from participating in her classes.

Class etiquette to remember when trying out a class:
- Inform the teacher that you are coming
- Please never be late, it is very disruptive, rather be there 10 minutes early to assess everything and/or speak to the teacher.
- Dress comfortably and ask when enquiring what she expects you to wear to a class.
- Ask for help when needed

What should a class look like this is also only a rough but mostly accurate guide:
- Most importantly stretching. A well trained teacher knows this is vital to prevent injury as well as to enable students to do the movements better as their muscles are more supple. It also promotes flexibility and endurance during class! Stretching is not just doing movements or following the teacher directly into belly movements. It is getting down on the floor and stretching, hamstrings, gluts arms, the works!

- A class should be divided and separated at least into the following:
* Beginners
* Intermediate
* Advanced dancers
This is so YOU get the most from your dancing experience! There is nothing worse than being a beginner surrounded by experienced dancers doing movements you can not possibly expect to be doing at your level or an advanced dancer learning nothing because new dancers keep joining every week.

- For a beginner class a teacher should:
Explain a bit about the styles you will be learning and what she teaches e.g. Egyptian cabaret and Folkloric styles etc,
She should also explain basic posture, stance and frame where your arms should be.
Explain the basic movement you are paying good money to be taught, ensure that she is teaching! Class should not be a person dancing about in the front of a room and you blindly following. Then you might as well buy a DVD for all the worth you are getting.

A teacher should take approximately 4-8 movements in class and:
1. Tell you their name
2. Break the movement down and explain EXCTLY what you should be doing/moving, what muscles should be working, and what parts of the body should not be moving
3. She should tell you where your feet should be
4. She should show you where your arms should be frame
5. She should demonstrate the full movement and what it should look like
6. Drill it! Repetition is the mother of learning and getting things right
7. She should be open to questions if you do not understand a movement or are having problems executing it.

Keep in mind students learn in different ways:
- by seeing visually her showing you with her own body
- by hearing the teacher explaining the movement verbally
- through touching your teacher putting her hands on your hip/ shoulder etc. and gently directing your body and you placing your hands on her hip/ shoulder etc. and feeling her muscles move. PLEASE NOTE if you have problems or dislike being touched, please inform your teacher as to not cause any future problems in this area!
- Through speaking you physically repeating the words and explanations mentioned above.
- Through a combination of the above

To conclude a class, once again stretching is very important. A cool down will prevent injury and general aches and pains.

Finally decide whether you liked the teacher, her style of teaching etc. Remember to try out other classes to compare with if you can find more than one in your area.

What should you be learning in your classes and what should your teacher be offering?

Your teacher should be proficiently knowledgeable on music, rhythm, different styles of Middle Eastern dance and different props.

Personally I feel that she should at least know:
- Advanced veil work
- Sword
- Candles
- Sagat
- Cain dancing
- Double veil
- Drumming

Styles of belly dancing:
- 1 style of cabaret
- 1 style of folkloric dancing

A good teacher Indicators

- She knows her limitations
- Encourages you to learn as much as possible through the internet, quality DVDs, books, workshops etc
- She is positive and uplifting
- She shares her knowledge
- She gives POSITIVE criticism
- She does not make you feel useless after a class!
- Praises when it is due
- Is open for questions and discussions
- Is open for POSITIVE criticism and feedback
- Is available if you are unhappy about a class/dancing related issue
- Explains well
- Presents a polished and well orchestrated class
- Is friendly and patient
- Encourages you and urges you to practice practice makes perfect
- Has a vast and extensive knowledge on the art of Middle Eastern Dance

For more information on belly dancing visit us at

www.bellydancesa.co.za

Or contact Aviva on 073 088 7888.

21/10/2006






































 

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