Susan's Blog

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More – or Less-on Plans

I have started planning for my next Baby Bellies class. I invited all of the girls with disabilities that I knew from Ben’s school and beyond (by discussing it with their teachers or their moms), as well as determining whether the four girls from last time were coming back (they are, plus a sister or two).

In order to get ready, I just ordered six child-size hip scarves and six child-size veils from the Moondance website. I am just so excited, because this means that I am going to have just what I need to teach my classes in January and then in the spring, and so on. I will have my own child-size stuff to distribute to them, in all colors, and then I don’t have to use my stuff and watch it get torn, dirty, etc. Besides, my hip scarves were always loose on them, no matter how much we tied them. And my veils were too wide, so the girls would often trip; not a good thing for an aspiring bellydancer. Now I can hand out little costumes in their favorite colors.

I probably need to bring in those cheap, long mirrors, too, and prop them up here and there so the girls can study their form.

I also have to put together a new collection of music, so that I can have just the right songs at the right time in class. I need a series of slow songs for stretching, then several taksim-like (no rhythm) for standing in one place isolations. And then, some quicker songs for learning traveling steps. And finally, some sinuous melodies for veilwork, which is their favorite. I could save my favorite up-beat numbers for last, for the purpose of creating dance routines, which they also love to do.

I also learned the benefit of break and snack time. And down time. So sometimes I start by having them sit around and watch one Bellydance Superstar number on DVD on my laptop. And halfway through the class we sit down and I give them goldfish or something, and they get drinks of water (wearing their hipscarves around the school, jingling all the way, making everyone smile). This helps them focus for the remainder, the dance routine part of the class.

It is interesting to me to see that in every class, what people want is to learn a dance routine. They want to be able to do the whole thing, not just learn the parts, because it was a dance that got them there in the first place. I was the same way. But now I’m learning that being given components and then layering them is the most useful thing because you don’t need to memorize someone else’s choreography start-to-finish; you need phrases that you can put together in your own way.

It all takes so much time and practice, and that is something the beginner does not want to hear. So I think it is my job as the teacher to make that beginning part as enjoyable as possible, and give them some of what they most desire (routines and cossies) as a motivation for learning the building blocks.

What all this really means to me is a commitment to teaching children dance, which just makes me so happy.


Go Baby Bellies! Sounds great! I love the child-size stuff. One thing I’d suggest (as a former teacher and current Girl Scout leader, etc.) is having everything ONE color so there’s no hard feelings or effort lost in choosing.

— Cathy in CT

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 6:10 pm

In the next life as a little girl I’d like to have you as a teacher…belly dancing was never an option in the 60’s. Lucky girls and such a good teacher paying attention to details and their learning styles!

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 6:59 pm

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