A Shimmy Progressive

September 19, 2008 § 2 Comments

Dance classes are going really well finally.  I feel like I’ve really improved as a teacher, just in the fact that I’m now comfortable teaching. I actually have several students who come to class regularly.  This is a major improvement. And we are set to have our next performance at the end of October.

The dilemma I’m still facing, however, is time management.  How do you fit everything into an hour long class?  I still haven’t figured it out.  I’ve finally just succumb to the fact that I have to sacrifice something every week and prioritize what is really necessary to ensure we are in the best position to progress.

This week, I had to sacrifice the entire slow section to give a major zill break down intensive.  I hate to do it.  I feel like the slow family of movements already gets neglected as it is, but I really felt like the zill thing had to be done now before we got too far without them and then have to re-learn everything with them.  I promised to pay extra attention to the slow family of moves next week to make up for it.

So my class plan from now on, warm-up (always with shimmy practice, because you always need shimmy practice), one fast move breakdown and drilling, fast move vocabulary practice (revisiting things we’ve already covered) now with zills, one slow move breakdown and drilling, slow move vocabulary practice, and cool-down and stretching.  As soon as the zills come together more, the vocabulary practice sections of the class will also become leading and following practice sections.

So I will keep sacrificing things when it’s necessary to break something down in more detail and then keep building a more complexly structured dance class. Which makes sense because American Tribal Style is a complex dance form.  Like my teacher used to say, it’s like learning to drive a standard while talking on the phone, drinking a soda, putting on mascara and changing the radio.

Only prettier.

Dance Class Jibber Jabber

July 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

Since I relaunched my American Tribal Style dance class, interest is growing and I’ve gotten some new students.  The class is still not paying its own rent, but this is only the second month in.  What the class needs is stability.  When I get a more regular student body, it will be much easier to make progress.  Everyone interested and participating so far is a member of the performance troupe, which makes sense since all of our dedicated students end up in the troupe eventually anyway.  Learning American Tribal Style is like learning a particular dialect within the belly dance language so it takes a little effort.  The benefit about troupe members participating in my class is it will mean performance opportunities.  Getting us to a performance level is the challenge.

For the next two weeks, I have been asked to teach some American Tribal Style for part of our performance class.  I think I’m going to be emphasizing leading and following so they can get a feel for what Tribal is really all about.  I will not be focusing on breaking down perfect arm positions and detailed technique or widely expanding our dance vocabulary as much as I do in my weekly classes.  Instead, I will teach a couple of combinations to show how to transition from one move to another and how to lead and follow the cues for the movements.  I will break down the class into trios or quartets and have them take turns leading the combos and encourage them to change the order of the movements once they feel confident. Very Carolena Nericcio-workshop inspired.  I think this will be fun and give the ones who haven’t tried Tribal a good feel for it.

What I’m working on now for my weekly class is developing a really good standard warm-up.  I am going to focus on overall stretching and focus my warm up exercises on building strength, control and muscle memory specifically for moves commonly used in Tribal Style, and not put time into anything not used in the Tribal family.  For example, instead of doing alternating shoulder shimmy warm-ups, we will focus on three-quarter shoulder shimmies only since we will never use an alternating shoulder shimmy when dancing together.

I have been changing the class every week depending on the students present that day and where they need to start from and I’ve been changing the warm-up to correspond with what I’ll be teaching them that day. I will continue to adjust the class focus according to student skill level, but I really think a standard well-rounded warm-up will work better in the long run.  That way we get in a little practice with all the muscle groups every class even if it’s not the focus that day.

I’d eventually like to start filming the classes and video-blogging a condensed version every week.  That will come a little later.

An American (Tribal) Girl

May 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

I start teaching dance class again next week. It’s been about two months since I took my class on hiatus. Now, my dance studio has expanded to twice the size, is getting a new name and is re-debuting next week. And so is my American Tribal Style class–in a new and (hopefully) more convenient time slot.

I’m a little nervous and not sure where to restart. I will have a couple brand new students. So, I suppose I should start at the very beginning again. Review will be good for all of us anyway.

It’s hard to start at the beginning. I get excited and want to show the class my very favorite moves–all at once! And I want to get to the advanced stuff right away so we can start performing the most fun and impressive things and show people what this dance form can be!

But I have to learn to have patience. Building a whole program from the ground up is a slow process that takes discipline and time. How long did it take me to learn the bulk of the ATS language? A couple years? Two or three? Hmmm….

Plus, I don’t have a huge student base yet–not enough for multiple classes–which means I teach one multilevel class. The challenge here is keeping the class fast-paced enough for the more advanced dancers while going slow enough to not scare off beginners. It’s a precarious balance.

And finally, there’s the time limits. I have one hour to teach my class. I wanted to use the same class structure that my American Tribal teacher used: warm-up, one fast move, one slow move, fake-it-till-you-make-it/leading circle, and a cool down. I have no idea how she managed to fit that into a single hour and still include proper posture, technique, equal break down and practice on both the right and left sides, intent, facial expressions, zils!… I tried this structure the first go around with my class and kept running out of time! I may have to turn it into alternating slow movement days and fast movement days. We’ll see.

So now, I just have to start, be patient and see how everything develops. Wish me luck!

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