"Serious" dance training

Jane

New member
There are dance teachers from other genres of dance that yell, demean, cuss at, and even hit students to correct them in classes and rehearsals. Students accept this as a necessary part of "serious" dance training.

Have you experienced this? Do you think it's acceptable? Have you ever heard of this in a belly dance class? Thoughts?
 

Aniseteph

New member
Have you experienced this? No. I'm too big and stroppy to take that sort of cr&p these days, and when I did ballet as a child it was serious but not abusive.

Do you think it's acceptable? No, absolutely not. It's bullying and assault. If you are serious about learning you shouldn't need fear as a motivation or to respect your teacher.

Have you ever heard of this in a belly dance class? Not personally, but I've heard talk of it here, though whether it was current or olden days I don't know.

Assuming you want them to learn and aren't just on an ego trip, instilling fear in students is counterproductive IMO. Especially anything where they need to have confidence to be able to do it. Like belly dancing, or maybe swimming (hello Miss Roberts IIRC whose ranting made me sink like a stone each week you evil witch).

If anyone thinks that what you need to do, IMO they are playing dress up. Ooh look at me I must be a Serious Dance Teacher because I'm channelling some scary Russian ballet mistress who hits you with her stick. :rolleyes:

I wonder if people who put up with that sort of behaviour are buying into the dress up too. We are Serious because our teacher is really horrible. :confused:
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Have you experienced this? Not in a dance class. However I will never, ever forget the idiot 8th grade science teacher who was reduced the sweetest girl in school to tears because she wasn't as smart as he thought she should be and was heavier than he thought she should be. I have never seen such a vicious display; he even asked her if she didn't understand English and harangued her in Spanish as well. :mad:
Sorry. That was 45 years ago but I still regret not standing up and throwing a desk at that SOB.

Have you ever heard of this in a belly dance class? Only second or third hand.

Do you think it's acceptable? Never.

And a question Jane didn't ask:

Do you think it is an effective teaching method? Not even a little.
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
I have never experienced it, have never heard of heard happening in bellydance classes & it is totally unacceptable, and if it happened to me or to anyone in a class I was taking, I would have a piece ( a huge piece) off the teacher & I'd walk out - no ifs or buts!

Shan I'd feel the same as you in those circumstances - but you being a youngster at the time you would have been nervous about confronting a teacher I'm sure - I know I'd have been too scared to say anything that's for sure, no matter what I was feeling at the time.
~Mosaic
 

Salome

Administrator
I have never experienced anything like that and am in total agreement that physical/verbal abuse is not ok. But I do feel there is way to much coddling in belly dance classes.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
but you being a youngster at the time you would have been nervous about confronting a teacher I'm sure
True. He's lucky he didn't try it on her during my senior year. By that time I regularly ate teachers for breakfast. :whistle:

Please expound on coddling, Salome. I may be guilty of it with more fragile students.
 

Roshanna

New member
There are dance teachers from other genres of dance that yell, demean, cuss at, and even hit students to correct them in classes and rehearsals. Students accept this as a necessary part of "serious" dance training.

Have you experienced this? Do you think it's acceptable? Have you ever heard of this in a belly dance class? Thoughts?
No on all counts, and I'd be horrified if I heard of this happening in any dance class. I don't accept at all that treating people badly is ever necessary in a learning environment. There is a place for being constructively critical, or even brutally honest on occasion, but never for being cruel and abusive.
The teachers I work hardest for are those who aren't afraid to correct mistakes and give honest feedback, but will also notice and praise hard work and improvement. (Of course as a serious student, I work hard for my own benefit, but some teachers make it easier to motivate yourself than others)
 

Sophia Maria

New member
I've never experienced it with dance teachers. I'm trying to think of teachers at school...hmmm not really. Most of my teachers in middle school and high school were really sweet and good teachers. I do remember one math teacher, though, who taught my 7th and 8th grade math classes. He was notorious for making of fun of people who got answers wrong. Now, I was always terrible at math, but I don't think it made that much of an impression on me because I've always had a really thick skin. However I remember hearing that he used to drive this girl to tears pretty frequently, for her appearance and math skills. I lost any respect I might have had for him in that instant.

I think the justification behind it, especially in dance, is to frustrate the student and make them work harder than they thought they could, in order to finally get it. I can see where it would work in a few cases, but really on the whole I think it's BS. Nothing positive comes from abuse.

However, I actually really would agree with the fact that many bellydance classes are perhaps too nice. In general, I feel like teachers encourage a very welcoming atmosphere, but sometimes that goes to the point of being counterproductive. This can lead to teachers not correcting form (bad, not very common, only seen one teacher do this). But more commonly I think the "coddling" in bellydance is more that many students are not pushed. This could be because, whereas many young people that go into ballet (or their parents that are making them) are envisioning them advancing far in the field. Many bellydance classes that I have attended have more older ladies or middle aged women not pursuing it seriously.

This is absolutely not to say that they don't work hard! It's just that they aren't pursuing it as seriously. Occasionally I have heard of teachers having to simplify choreographies instead of pushing the students to do more. It seems a shame.
 

AndreaSTL

New member
I agree with the coddling. Most people who take up belly dancing aren't serious about it. They want to have fun, meet up with the girls once a week, and occasionally play dress up at a hafla. I'm not saying those are bad things, but they're not conducive to dance training. Most teachers know that if they ran their classes like other dance classes their enrollment would dwindle and they wouldn't be able to make rent. Ours isn't a dance form that most parents think of when they're enrolling their toddlers in dance class. Given the general "understanding" of belly dance in the US, most of them would think it inappropriate.

Another problem teachers face is having the time and/or financing to run multiple levels. If a teacher can only do one or two classes a week then it's likely that dancers with different abilities will be in the same class. Rather than run two groups in the same class time everyone gets lumped together. We would often have to dumb down and simplify choreographies so that everyone could participate. I do put most of that at her feet, though, because there wasn't ever enough time to work on difficult moves. Rather than requiring students to practice outside of class to learn the material we just substituted easier stuff (both movements and formations).

I know this has been discussed before, but some teachers prefer to let their students go uncorrected so they can avoid any sort of conflict. So many dancers feel that if they know the moves they will be good teachers, but that's just not the case. They don't want to hurt someone's feelings so they just don't do anything. I find this to be frustrating because I'm paying to learn, not just experience a class. Corrections can be made in an informative way; they don't have to be done rudely. We learn from our mistakes in all aspects of life. Dance classes aren't any different.

To make a long story short (Now she does it :lol: ), coddling in my area occurs because:
1. Students aren't serious about learning the dance & culture.
2. Teachers don't want to lose students for financial reasons.
3. Teachers don't know how to give correction without offending.
Any one of the above can present issues, but sometimes there is more than one issue at play. Then you can just fuhgeddaboutit!
 

Aniseteph

New member
... Another problem teachers face is having the time and/or financing to run multiple levels. If a teacher can only do one or two classes a week then it's likely that dancers with different abilities will be in the same class. Rather than run two groups in the same class time everyone gets lumped together.
This must be an impossible one to deal with - multiple levels of experience, seriousness and ability all in one class. Added to which teachers might not know who is a serious student and who is there for a once a week giggle. Appearances can be deceptive. :(
 

Sirène

New member
Have you experienced this?
No. I never took dance as a child, only as an adult and all my teachers have been encouraging.

Do you think it's acceptable?
Certain things yes, certain things no. Short of defending against an attack, no teacher should ever place their hands on a student in anger. Harsh langugage (NOT profanity) I'm somewhat more in favor of if it's a) warranted (e.g. students are slacking and sloppy), and b) the students are age and skill appropriate.

Have you ever heard of this in a belly dance class?
No. My experience of BD classes so far is that everyone is really positive.
 

Kashmir

New member
I have been hit (not hard) with a cane on several occasions to bring my consciousness to my posture. I haven't been personally cussed. Closest would be classes where the teacher has threatened to leave (after we'd paid) unless we did X or Y (in once case I think it was justifiable - in the other not).

I do think many teachers are too soft (including me). Particularly frustrating is students who come back from a workshop being mercilessly drilled and apparently accepting it - and saying how much improvement they saw - then when I try and up the drilling and correction they all go soggy and wimpy on me.

ETA: Also what is "harsh" - judging from this forum anyone who suggests a student is not perfect, or needs to work on something, or whose beliefs are based on fantasy is considered harsh by some people.
 
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Munniko

New member
Have you ever experienced this? Not directly I taught children for a year and they swapped out new teachers (unless you extended your contract) yearly the gem of a teacher I was following encouraged other students to bully this poor girl in the kindergarten class because he thought it was funny when she got upset and freaked out. I never approved of that and stopped it immediately on my taking over the class.

Do you ever think it is acceptable On the other hand I wasn't a coddling sort of teacher....all the time. I let the young kinds sit in my lap and braid my hair if they finished their work and I was checking it and we played learning games, but they knew when to get down to business. If you weren't going to behave you could stand in the corner with your hands up (so I knew where they were, but it was never for longer than a minute) or you got to talk to the co-teacher (the school had a weird policy of students on being sent to a principal unless it was super bad and then the principal would basically coddle them further and ask them if everything was okay etc.) I will say after a few times even the bad kids realized it was more fun to be with the teacher than against the teacher. I half regret not staying with the company because the kids saw so much improvement (especially that girl who is in fact now taking belly dance lessons and it was her moms idea:dance: )

Have you ever heard of this in a Belly dance class? Well not the physical abuse part, I've heard of teachers never being satisfied, but usually it is teachers coddling students and not critiquing them so they don't grow. I'm always nervous about asking questions in class because I have awkward ways to describe things (most recently "my upper back feels off and my body is trying to urge me to stab it until it is better") so usually I don't get corrected unless I draw attention to myself which as a result I'm not sure exactly what level of technique I'm at ....but I think it is because of my bollywood experience helping me fake it till I make it.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Have you ever experienced this?
In public school, yes, but it was the exception to the rule and was never physical. I would never stay in a dance class that did either.

Wait, in karate it was standard to use a bamboo sword or wood staff to check posture but that was because if they could knock you over you were doing it wrong. I assume that isn't what we're talking about though?

Do you ever think it is acceptable
No, and it boggles my mind how anyone does.

Have you ever heard of this in a Belly dance class?
Only on here. Never locally.

Another problem teachers face is having the time and/or financing to run multiple levels. If a teacher can only do one or two classes a week then it's likely that dancers with different abilities will be in the same class. Rather than run two groups in the same class time everyone gets lumped together.
This has been coming up recently. As someone who used to take a mixed level class I'm wondering if my experience was the exception to the rule? Our teacher had an outline that she used to teach the basics to the newer students and then as she decided we were ready to move on she would add layers or have us use a harder movement in the place of the simpler movements. It was "this is the combos to this part of the music. Now you, you and you will be doing this instead." or "We're going to be practicing our walks. Here's the basics and ____ will be doing it with this layer as well." We all received feedback based on our level of skill.

Is it really that unusual?
 

Jane

New member
Good point everyone! I'm still mulling this over. Lot's of thoughts are running through my head on this one.
 

AyaKara

New member
Out of curiosity Jane, why did you decide to make this thread? If you don't mind my asking, that is :shok:
 

Jane

New member
I saw it being discussed on a Facebook group and it struck me as odd that some of the people accepted these things as a normal part of teaching. I saw some of it at ballet schools my daughter attended and it ultimately resulted in her leaving because of similar issues.
 

Zumarrad

Member
Have you experienced this? A bit of yelling from time to time, but nothing truly demeaning. I got rapped on my knuckles by a music teacher once. No, I don't think abusing people is acceptable and I am not a fan of hitting or yanking people's bodies around.

Have you ever heard of this in a belly dance class?

I have been told of a teacher screaming abuse at her students; also going into other classes and sniggering at the students, and slamming a door in the face of another teacher in view of students. But in general, in my experience bellydance teachers accept that most of the people in their classes are hobbyists who are in class for pleasure, not training for a career, and do not take an abusive tack, not least because they want them to come back.

I think a teacher can forcefully call out corrections - aka yell - and can press students to keep going without being obnoxious about it.
 

DancingArabian

New member
I've never experienced abusive practices in dance. I would not mind if my belly dance teacher were tougher on me. I have come across sever horseback riding instructors who were verbally abusive. I had two nutty music teachers in middle school and high school - turned me off of music. My middle school teacher hurled a trumpet and cracked a window. My high school teacher would have these meltdowns before our recitals as though we were performing in Carnegie hall and were not prepared. It was just the school auditorium with parents and I attentive students!
 
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