Thoughts on retirement


I've been officially retired from teaching belly dance for a year now. (Okay, I am officially retired for the fourth time from teaching dance.) The current teacher lives a good distance outside town so I offered to have the year end hafla at my house as we've done for fifteen years or more. Someone asked if I missed teaching. While I miss my dancers, I don't miss teaching and I most certainly don't miss all those non-billable hours of preparation I put in every semester. Guess thirty-nine years was enough. :D Two of my students have enthusiastically taken over the classes so classes will continue for the foreseeable future.

Inevitably, a couple of other students suffered miffed feelings re: "Why didn't she choose me to take over the class?" If specifically asked, I will tell them why I chose the two I chose but I'm not going to volunteer the information. If these two students think the matter through, they can figure it out for themselves.

One woman is a long time student who has turned into a fine little dancer but whose personality and skills aren't suited to teaching. It's one thing to know how to do something oneself and another thing altogether to be able to impart knowledge and skills to someone else. The other is a decent fusion/fantasy dancer who isn't interested in middle eastern music, rhythms, dance history, or appropriate vocabulary. She can't seem to discriminate between what we study in class and what she wants to do on stage.

"Study" is a key word here.

While not as codified as ballet or square dancing, classic styles of belly dance have parameters. Those parameters don't include high kicks, splits, music from Frozen, or ram skulls used as props. Part of the reason for the decline in belly dance popularity is that so few people are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the classic styles, preferring instead to learn a couple of shimmies, perhaps a hip lift, and combining those with more or less soulfully flinging bodies through space. This desire for shortcuts to performance isn't just sad, it represents a tragic loss of integrity and appreciation for traditional forms of belly dance.

I chose dancers who understand those parameters and who are capable of teaching within those parameters. That is not to say they can't choreograph fusion or fantasy for the class- I did both myself- but they are fully aware of what they are doing and why and can explain the differences to their students.

Stepping off the soapbox now...;)
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"The Veiled Male"
Dunia (Santa Cruz/San Jose California) ran a major festival for 29 years, and taught and performed longer than that when she retired at age 65.

When she turned 70, she decided she still wanted to teach - just a little. So she has one intermediate/advanced class a week. And is she well worth watching/learning from!


Well-known member
Well said Shanazel. If you ever need another soapbox to stack so you can stand just a little higher I will be happy to loan you mine. ;)


Thanks, Ariadne. I am already in danger of a tumble every time I climb on the boxes I already have. Getting old, getting shaky... or have I developed a case of permanent shimmy?