What makes the ideal dance student..?

Posted on 25th February, 2017

What makes the ideal dance student...? Initially I started off as a student myself, and even now I attend workshops and private tuition for my own dance development as a student.  I have also been teaching belly dance for over 10 years now!  Many people question what makes a good teacher, but on the flip side what makes the ideal student?!  I've just read something on another dance website that has led to me asking  myself this question!


All teachers, and students, are different, and wouldn't it be a dull world if we were all the same!  I know that my teaching style varies greatly to other teachers I have experienced, but I would like to think that I am doing something right if I am still teaching 2 well attended classes a week 10 years on!


However, I'm going to explore what I would look for in the "ideal" student!


I suppose there are different elements - there is the actual dance side of things - technique, rhythm etc and then there are other aspects such as personality and how a student conducts themselves in class.


As some of my dancers already know, a "niggle" of mine is being late - I personally hate getting anywhere late and ideally I like my students to arrive 5-10 mins early, to sign in/pay, remove outer layers of clothing, have a quick catch up with other students and then be ready to start.  I know that sometimes things get in the way of this - busy traffic, dealing with the kids, weather conditions etc which can all put us behind.  It would be nice if all my dancers were there, ready to start on the dot!  I can live in hope...!


Another aspect of class is that everyone is respectful and welcoming of others.  I would hate to think that any of my ladies felt uncomfortable in my classes and I like the fact that no matter the age, size, or ability of dancer, all are welcomed as we are all there for the same reason - our love of belly dance!  It is a huge deal for some women to attend an established class as a "newbie" and I am very grateful to my regular dancers that they go over and say a few words, or lend out a hip scarf to a beginner and it breaks the ice and makes them feel welcome and accepted into the group.


My classes are quite informal - we have a giggle here and there and I like that - a lot of my women come for the social aspect as much as learning to dance, and so it's important to me that they feel they can have a joke here and there.  However, it does bug me when I am trying to explain technique, or choreography and I will find two dancers having a private conversation between themselves, not always quietly either (!) and I wonder why they have paid to attend a dance class if they just want to stand and chat!


I LOVE to see happy, enthusiastic, motivated dancers in class!  I put alot of time into my class planning and into class choreographies and therefore it's rewarding to see them enjoying it and craving more!  And I love nothing more than to have dancers ask questions during class - if they need me to go over a move, or arm placement, or a weight change - that's what I am there to do!  Please, never be afraid to ask questions, every dancer learns differently, some need things explaining verbally, for others it's a visual thing and for some, I need to find an alternative way of explaining it, comparing it to a shape or a feeling or a movement so that they can grasp what the body is meant to be doing.  I love that everyone is different and a move that one dancer may struggle with, another may pick up quickly and vice versa!  Despite how I am feeling in my personal life - be it if I am having a bad day, feel unwell, stressed out or just tired and achy, I try not to let it show.  I feel I owe it to my dancers to be enthusiastic and motivated about what I am teaching so that they can also feel this "vibe"!


I love seeing students progress.  I can tell those who go home and practise moves, practise choreographies, and research songs I use, compared to those who just use their 1 hour class each week to work on their belly dancing.  That's not a criticism - for some they aren't as "into" it as others, but it is always refreshing and uplifting to have several students who crave that extra bit more - they ask for the music so they can practise, they are eager to know the next bit of a choreography, or even when they just say " ooh I love that combination" in class - it is always a lovely thing for a teacher to hear.


So to sum up what makes the ideal student for me?  Someone who is punctual, committed, respectful, passionate and open minded.  Someone who welcomes all dance styles to explore and try, someone who is happy to have a giggle but also knows when to concentrate a bit more to take in all those little bits of advice I am sharing in class.  Someone who has a love of belly dance and is not scared to show it!


Please feel free to comment on this blog post or any other - tell me what you think makes a good student, or even a good teacher!







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