Integrating New Dancers

Apologies for the wordy title.  That just means I’ve been teaching for three and a half years, and some of my students have been with me for three years now and whenever I have new students come to class it’s hard to make sure that they get the attention they need, as well as keeping those with more experience happy too.

I don’t think I hold the secret of how this is achieved, but here’s how I go about it at the moment.  The Oriental or Middle Eastern Dance class at 2pm is practicing a choreography that everyone kind of knows but doesn’t have down perfectly yet.  We now just go through this once each week, and the new ladies act as our audience because it never hurts to have real people to try and smile at through the nerves and concentration.  And it’s good practice for those who are the audience too: where should you look when watching women belly dancing?  At their faces?  Their props? Their hips?  Or not look at them at all……  If anyone has a question about the choreo then they can ask it at the end and we try and sort it out.

Then it’s on to learning a new choreography that follows the one they already (kind of) know.  This is a little harder because there are two groups of dancers doing slightly different things at the beginning, then we all slot into dancing as one group.  In fact there’s not much dancing involved (so far as I’m concerned) but I guess to those doing it it’s more than enough.  The new ladies are required to join in with this and as a lot of it involves travelling I’m just getting them used to doing that before I work on moves and technique.  Through moves and technique they’ll get some basics that I can drill them in whilst I get everyone else to work on being where they should be and how they get there.

Then, to ensure a fairly level playing field, they’re all learning how to use zills, and move.  So far we’ve just done patterns of threes whilst walking back and forth and around in a circle.  Last week I added in the Masmoudi rhythm for them to play with and this week I’ll get them to do threes whilst moving their arms into different positions.

To finish, we’re going back to the old stalwart of the sustained shimmy.  Not new to most but after a long time it can come as something of a shock to shimmy for three and a half minutes, and obviously it’s a whole new world for the new ladies!

The tribal class has doubled since getting three new members.  Two are brand new to belly dance, one has been attending Middle eastern Dance classes for years but is new to tribal.

This is much easier to manage.  I can ask my regulars to work on our current piece of music together whilst I show the new ladies a basic chorus move and one lead move.  This means that once we all work together, I can get the newbies to dance as chorus in the back-ground with the instruction to join in when they see us start the move they’ve been drilled in.  They then go back to their basic chorus move until they can join in again.  If nothing else this is good training for them in watching the leads and beginning to anticipate what’s coming from body tension and posture.

It’s going to be hard for them for a while but they’re keen and I’ve explained that like many things once it all starts to click it won’t feel so daunting.

I’ll be letting you know how it’s going in future posts.

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