Levels are rarely consistent from teacher to teacher. It’s in your best interest to contact any teacher prior to registering if you are coming from another instructor.
There are only a couple of widely-recognized teacher training programmes for Middle Eastern dance–the two I know of are Hadia’s and Suhaila Salimpour’s. I have taken 2 of 3 levels with Hadia. Even they do not prescribe a single set way of teaching dance. Most teachers will set their levels with little conscious thought, perhaps only regurgitating what they took as students, or, worse, trotting out a constantly different “salad bar” of bit and pieces taken from workshops and DVD’s. Few teachers take the time to plan what to teach, and even more rarely, consider why and how . Still more confuse the needs of their own ego with the needs of students–a tell-tale sign of an ego-centric teacher is if she is constantly trying to outdance her students. This has been a source of disappointment and frustration for many dedicated teachers and students.
When coming from another instructor, it’s wise to approach the new one with some humbleness and respect, and to sincerely discuss with her where you should be in her levels. It is not uncommon for teachers to suggest you try a couple and they be placed. It’s typical to feel as if you have “dropped” a level, but try to practice some patience and allow yourself to adjust to the new system. You will often also be adjusting to a new voice, new body, new methods, new room, new classmates, and different music. This is enough of an adjustment. Try to think of it as different and new. Try not to compare your previous experiences with your current ones. It’s not very helpful to anyone. If you experience a feeling of “starting over” because you discover your last teach was unskilled or inept, try to just breathe deep and stay positive. At least you are making things right from that moment on.
Kindly read all class descriptions and prerequisites to be sure of what level you should register for and what you will need to bring. This will be different for the 2011-2012 season, and Nicola thanks you for your patience as she works towards better and better dance instruction!
Nicola makes it a practice of encouraging students to try several teachers and to try more than one class per week. This helps you by offering:
- repetition and variety
- opportunities to experience several viewpoints and teaching styles
- meet different people
- work and learn in a different time and space.
Keep in mind that it takes the majority of students persistence, discipline, practice, talent, aptitude, research, and of course, an average of 5 years of training in classes, workshops and private lessons to become proficient in this dance form. Classes won’t buy you talent or inspiration.
Taking a class that you hate, or seeing a show that you think is terrible, still teaches you–you learn what you prefer, what is out there in general, and what you need in a teacher and a class. Negative experiences can help motivate, re-focus, and direct your efforts, as well as save you money by knowing what classes, shows, and products to avoid.