Would the Inexperienced Belly Dancer Teacher Please Sit Down? (part 1 of 3)
I did it again recently when I vented to others on my Facebook Fan Page: "I am SO tired of 'belly dance teachers' popping up here and there after a short stint as a student!"
I knew I wasn't the only one who felt this way, and boy was I right!
Right away, Lisa Lopez, a New York City native currently living in El Paso, Texas, concurred, "Oh yeah, too many times. But I'm not naming names..."
She's such a sweetheart, protecting these dancers, and as a veteran of many variations of dance, I'm sure she's seen this across the board, not just in her belly dance experience.
Lisa and I are not alone in our recognition of sub-par teachers who can crop up after their short time as a student. But why does this happen?
Houston-based professional Middle Eastern dancer and instructor Anna argues, "Well, everyone tells her she’s a good dancer and ought to teach." Anna, www.raqsanna.com, also said there are many dance teachers from different backgrounds who learn a few belly dance moves and begin to teach "a very myopic style of belly dance".
I can see the steam from here!
But this problem isn't limited to students who have to suffer through limited belly dance instruction. Leeza, www.enchantingtxbellydance.com, a transplant to Texas from the United Arab Emirates, agrees with Anna. "This is a real problem in our community. Part of the problem, I think, likely stems from we are way too [politically correct] these days, and suddenly terrified of hurting feelings and telling 'Suzie belly dance student' she really needs to work on some movements longer before she starts performing, teaching, and turning 'pro.'"
One chick who, like me, tends to tell it like it is & ain't afraid of a toe or two is Terri Massa, www.zarasbazaar.com. Living in Fairbanks, Alaska, Terri has studied Middle Eastern dance for over 20 years and has taught hundreds of students of all ages and abilities. "One of my students decided to start teaching after six months of sporadic lessons," she said. "I made a point of sending something to her in writing that said that she was not qualified to teach, that her technique was incorrect and potentially injurious (she later developed several bulging discs), and that she was never to say that she was teaching the dance the way that I represented it.
I have to agree with Terri. If someone in the community is misrepresenting belly dance due to inexperience, she should be told, politely of course. Yes, we are a community and for the most part, we need to build each other up, but also take care to promote the best sides of ourselves. That includes supporting experienced dancers as trainers instead of perpetrating myths about belly dancing through limited instruction.
Be polite, be respectful and be true to our dance. If you think you can make it as a professional... and as a business person then you need to be prepared for the good and the ugly in your professional life. Is being a dance professional different than being an entrepreneur? Of course not. If you are not well equipped in your field then you will, most likely, fail. Just do me a favor - don't take the whole belly dance ship down with you in your area.
Do we, as teachers, dancers and performers have responsibilities? Yes we do. Support, respect and honor. However, we also have a responsibility to this art. Call a spade, a spade, WHEN IT IS APPROPRIATE. This is not to be interpreted as a witch hunt.
However, complacency can be consent in my book...
To be continued.........