Alex

Dear Student,

So this is the delayed part 2 of my “Dear Teacher” blog post from much earlier this year. I have been teaching dance since about 2010 – beginners classes at first (I LOVE teaching beginners!) and now I occasionally teach our intermediate and advanced classes. In this time, I’ve learned a lot about being a good student and being a good teacher. It takes more than just knowing the material to be either. I can obviously write an entire long list on how to be a better student, but I think that would come out as a bit condescending and maybe a bit mean – so I think this is a gentler approach.

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Dear Students,

I love having you in my class! Thank you for coming and being a part of my little dance world!

First, I just want to say that having you in my class is a big deal for me, so when you don’t come it really is frustrating. I totally understand work commitments (sometimes I can’t make class either and need to get a substitute teacher in), sometimes it’s impossible to find a babysitter and other issues come up that prevent you from coming to class. I have had students come to class who work shifts and can only be there every second week, so I am flexible when it comes to missing class. However, missing class because “it’s cold” feels like a lack of commitment. Trust me, when it’s raining and storming outside, I don’t want to leave my house either! ๐Ÿ™‚ And on that note…

I can only put you in a choreography if you attend class. I know you pick things up quickly – and that’s awesome for you! – but that doesn’t mean you don’t need practice. Working as a unit takes time and it is very obvious when a student doesn’t come regularly and tries to slot into a choreography.

There are soooo many reasons for being chosen for a choreography. I would love to put everybody in, every single time, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes we have to pay to perform and our studio happily carries that cost, but we can’t carry the cost every time for 15 students to be in a dance, sometimes we need to work on stage space and sometimes it’s just about aesthetics! But often times it comes down to: Who attends class, who has the costuming, who is doing the dance well, who is doing it ON TIME with the music, and (for me at least) it’s also about giving equal opportunity to perform. You may have been dancing for years and are really good, but if I am always putting you in everyย dance, it means one less spot for somebody who may also be really good, but with less experience. Everybody needs performance opportunities and sometimes it means cutting the more experienced dancers out of a dance to give less experienced dancers a chance to perform. ๐Ÿ™‚ (If you are unsure how your teacher chooses people for choreography – just ask! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Want to dance more? Do a solo or choose a dance sister to do a duet with! I am thrilled if students want to do their own thing! You are an individual dancer as well as a group dancer, nurture your individuality by dancing alone! I am happy to help you with a choreography/solo/duet piece if you’d like help or want feedback. Dancers doing choreography without me makes me proud!

Please listen when I talk in class. Goodness knows I do a lot of talking, but it’s because I have so much information to share that everything I say is useful. If you can’t use it, discard it and keep dancing. On top of that, listening in class means you don’t miss important information – about performances, payment info, holiday breaks, etc. I really do say it all in class!

Ask me to repeat myself – I love getting feedback like that! I can easily barrel right through an entire exercise in a few minutes, but it doesn’t help I speed things along if you’re not getting the first part of the exercise, so just ask. (please!)

I know that sometimes it’s been a particularly shitty week and you’re not absorbing anything in class, so don’t worry – I do understand! Even with teaching, I sometimes have days where I need to check my notes 20 million times in a lesson to check that I know what I’m doing! (I am sure all my students can attest to that!) You’re allowed an “off” day – what’s more important is that on these “off” days, you’re still in class!

Turn your cellphones off/on silent and don’t check them during water breaks. It’s a huge distraction for you (I don’t really get bothered) when your phone is always going off. You’re always wondering who is on the other end and it just keeps your mind off the dancing.

Lastly, be on time! It’s such a simple one, but often overlooked. If class starts at 18:30, don’t be there at 18:29. Aim to be there 10 minutes before class starts, that way if you do run lateย or get stuck in traffic, you’re at least not late for class. Arriving early means you can have a chat, say hello to your classmates, settle your account with the teacher and generally just settle in. If you are late, just warm up at the back and join in as soon as you’re warmed up.

 

I love having all of my students in class, I love their input, I love their dedication and their crazy ideas. I want to keep up that level of closeness, but I need help sometimes to make class awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep on dancing and keep on being inspired!

Love,

Your overly-enthusiastic teacher.

Costume-making frenzy!

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to make a seriously glitzy cabaret belly dance outfit because I’ve outgrown my last one! I settled on horrifically bright colours – pink and orange!! I managed to get a bit of the bra done but then I lost all my inspiration for making the outfit and I just left it in a corner. Recently, my sister came to stay with us for a few days and she took me to get some material which resulted in me changing the whole outfit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still pink, but I scrapped the orange and decided on purple!

Belly-bra progress!

The skirt I want to make will look similar to the one in this video from my friend Ebony of EbonyIvoryBellydance YouTube fame. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like the slits and half circle back half (although my slits won’t be as high up)! I think it flows really nicely and will look awesome once I’m done. It’ll be the bright pink material (as shown below) then covered with a clear purple material so that the pink material is still visible but not as harshly. That’s for the back half-circle piece. The front I think I’ll keep pink… hmm..

PIIIIIINK!!

Now this is where I need YOUR help, desperately!! The original plan was to have pink and orange with gold embellishments, but now that I’ve swapped the purple and the orange, I’m thinking maybe I should use silver embellishments instead?

I have an ‘inspiration’ book, where I sketch ideas for outfits, and (only recently) print pictures and glue sequins into the book for colour ideas. So I thought I’d give you a look into that book with some pictures!

The Cover

Inside

The latest piece

My mini-choreo book

And here are the close ups of the two pieces I’m pulling for inspiration for the purple outfit!

Outfit 1

Outfit 2

Sorry for this INCREDIBLY long post!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me know what you think of everything! Comments are always welcome! And please subscribe on the —> side!