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Apr262008

Belly Dance Teaching Craft - True Teaching Power

True Teaching Power; Striking a Balance between Spirit & Mind by Shemiran Ibrahim

Teachers will generally have a preference, or even unconscious skew, towards either spirit or mind. Some teachers will focus like a laser on technique but overlook the emotional and spiritual sides of Belly Dance. The upside of this type of teacher is that the student is not frustrated in trying to understand how to do the movements, as this teacher is strong on breaking movement down and explaining the basics. The frustration in such classes can arise out of leaving the class having only had a one dimensional experience – a physical one - and missing out on the mind/body/spirit qualities of Belly Dance. Some magic is lost, some essence is missing.

Other teachers will deliver the spirit and essence, but not explain the nitty gritties of the technical side of the movements. Classes with this type of teacher are fulfilling to the soul,

but leave the students utterly frustrated with where to put their feet, how to keep in time with the rhythm etc. Such teachers can actually cause injury as they can be oblivious to the flesh and bones reality of dance and can have unsafe teaching technique due to their over-identification with spirit, and disconnection to physical reality.

Either type of teacher has their own strengths and gifts, and in the same breath both can be frustrating to the student as their teaching methods deliver only half the picture. This is one reason why it is good to go to different teachers with different strengths and weaknesses.

As you develop your own teaching method, it is useful to watch out for your own skews and tendencies. Spirit, heart, emotion, essence, improvisation and free flowingness are energetically in the realm of the Feminine. People who deliver these well have a healthy relationship to the Feminine in life.

Mind, mental agility, logic, structure, technique nuts-and-bolts, and choreography are based in the Masculine realm, and are strongest with people who identify more with the Masculine.

The best teachers of any subject matter strike a balance between Feminine and Masculine principles;

The Masculine

The Feminine

Head

Heart

Technique

Emotional expression

Structure

Beauty

Choreography

Improvisation

Efficiency

Integrity

Thinking

Feeling

The most effective teachers are strong on spirit and mind, heart and head, emotional expression and technique. This balancing act can be seen in everything they do:

  • In their explanations of things; e.g. they will give equal time and attention to explaining hard facts and technique, and the emotional qualities of the movement.

  • In their demeanour in class; e.g. they will have the ability to be dead serious when deep in the delivery of a subject matter, and at once they can make the class roll in belly laughs through a sudden hilarious remark which infuses spirit into the learning experience.

  • In running their business; they focus as much on what their heart wants for their classes/school on a cultural level and what it delivers in terms of service to their students, as they do on the nuts-and-bolts hard facts of the business such as promotion, profits and keeping their books and taxes up to date.

To empower your teaching and indeed your life, find out your weak side - the Feminine or the Masculine - and make an intention and concerted effort to strengthen that muscle. The rewards will be nothing short of awesome!

For more on the subject of the Universal Law of Gender and how it affects you on a day-to-day basis, go to the articles in The Feminine folder of this site. You will find some easy to read articles that break down the concept of the Law of Gender, and how Belly Dance intersects with it.

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This article is an extract from award winning teacher Shemiran Ibrahim's "Teacher Handbook; The A-B-C of Teaching Belly Dance" which covers:

  • A-Awaken the Teacher in You
  • B-Business End of Running a Successful Belly Dance School and
  • C-Curriculum & Teaching Method for foundation level classes

The Teacher Handbook is part of "How to Teach Belly Dance", an affordable learn-from-home 4 disk Belly Dance Teacher Training Course. Go to How to Teach Belly Dance for more info.

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