Posted on 22/11/2017 by Kay Taylor

Musings of a Belly Dance Teacher

Belly Dance Musing

By Kay Taylor – a teachers perspective – written 2016 – but still relevant.

I have been made to stop and think by a few posts on Facebook recently.  They were really thought provoking reads that made me think about whether, as teachers, we need to strike a better balance in classes.
The points that made me stop were:  Emma Chapman saying she hadn’t danced for a year.  Jude McGillivray musing about the stress of self improvement.  Rita Williamson bemoaning the lack of opportunities for social boogying.  I am paraphrasing and all 3 said much more than this … these are the points that stuck with me.

Do we as teachers put too many expectations on our students?  Or is it because Belly Dance becomes such a passion that we put the stress on ourselves?  Are we all so focused on performing that we forget the joy of social dancing?  I don’t think there are any answers as such – we each have to find our own path.

The concept of stopping dancing for a year is incomprehensible to me …. But it could be really beneficial.  Sometimes we need fallow time to allow everything to settle.  Maybe a new challenge will come along, maybe a different style of dance … or maybe an enjoyment of what is inside rather than striving to be something else, or meet others expectations.

Is the journey to be a ‘better’ dancer – or a ‘better’ teacher too subjective?  Is too much emphasis placed on technique?  To be a better dancer, do you have to have completed this course or studied with that teacher?  I don’t think so, I think that for each of us it is different.  Also, at different points in our lives, different things are appropriate.  As teachers, it is our job to recognize what might be right for people at different stages of their development.  What I have found is that as individuals develop, the teaching role becomes more of a mentor role.

I have heard teachers describe themselves as a social teacher.  It made me think about what kind of teacher I am and I believe that I am a ‘social’ teacher too.  I have classes that are about community, confidence building and fun.  But I also have classes where development is the focus.  I don’t make apologies for either – students come to whichever is appropriate to them.  Or go to a different teacher if they find their style more to their liking.  I try not to take it personally!  I do think Rita had a point about opportunities for social dancing.  Some classes focus too much on choreography and performing it.  Maybe some other classes focus too little on technique and are more about the social element.  As teachers, we are also often the organizers of events and it is really important to build social time into both them and classes.

Surely our responsibility to our students is to point them in the direction of events that will provide a range of opportunities.

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