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Choosing a Belly Dance Teacher

What to look for and what to avoid when choosing your teacher

Before you enrol

Decide on what you want out of the course. Are you feeling like you want to learn Belly Dance seriously and maybe become a performer somewhere down the line, or are you looking for something fun and different to do to get fit? Whatever your reasons, make sure you are choosing a teacher with credentials. Every teacher should have some form of promotional vehicle that clearly explains her professional training, teaching and/or performing history. In any case, whatever your goals are from your course, please enrol with a teacher who has had at least 5 years of training with a reputable teacher.

Unfortunately, many people start teaching without the necessary knowledge and experience behind them, and this can rob you of a great initial experience with Belly Dance. If you get turned off from the beginning, you may never come back so please choose wisely from the start.

Starting your Belly Dance course

A good teacher will know her stuff, having been training in Belly Dance with reputable teachers for a long time, and will have the teacher’s knack; one of explaining things in a simple way that helps beginners not only understand what to do, but also to enjoy the experience. A good teacher will also have the spirit of a teacher; one that is there in service to her students and the dance, one that transcends ego and personalities and personal achievement. A good teacher never looks down on her students and is proud of each and every student and their effort, no matter how small. If you ever had a good teacher in school, you know, the one you never forget, she/he was probably just like this. A good teacher, a real teacher, always comes from the heart.

If your teacher compares, judges, pushes you beyond your limits, belittles or is patronising, find another teacher! A good teacher interacts with her students in one way; with respect. Some dancers who go into teaching just because they want to make an extra buck can get frustrated and take out their negative energy on their students. The best thing you can do is leave and find yourself a teacher who is wise, unjudgemental, lets everyone work at their own pace, and respects EVERY student.

At the same time I would urge you to show respect back to your teacher. Some students come to class with attitude, and it can really distract the classroom. The teacher/student relationship needs to be built on mutual and equal respect.

Never be afraid to ask questions in class, a good teacher will welcome the input as it will give her an indication of where the class is at, or what she needs to pay more attention to. The students and teacher co-create the classroom, so become an active part of your learning processes.

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This article is an extract from Shemiran Ibrahim's "Belly Dance Student Guide". To read more and download click here.