Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teaching the Same Choreographies

So, you've found yourself teaching your first belly dance class, congratulations! Teaching baby belly dancers how to do basic moves and watching as they grasp how to circle their hips or handle a veil is so rewarding. But after the first few weeks or months almost everyone has usually grasped the basics and are looking to you to provide more. But your new students aren't ready for a performance yet, nor are they ready for an advanced class. What do you teach them now?

They might not be ready for a performance yet, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't learn a choreography! Getting used to remembering a long string of moves will be helpful later, as well as give them an early shot at learning how to combine all those moves together in a 3-6 minute sequence. Plus, you'll be ready for a performance at a moment's notice, once they've got a good choreography under their belt.

But once you've got that first choreo down, then what? Do you just keep rehearsing it? No! Teach them another one. So they're still not ready for a performance? No matter, there's a huge benefit in having a group of dancers that all know a couple of the same choreos. Why is that?

Well, if you have a couple of go-to choreos, you will always have dancers that can perform it. You'll always be ready for student performances, and you'll give new bellydance students something to aspire to. A new bellydancer will see dancers in the classes above her performing these dances beautifully, and she'll want to work for the day when she can perform with them. Also, you have a crop of dancers who can help out the baby dancers and practice with them outside of class--you have a built in team!

And if you're introducing a new choreo, you can spend entire classes working on combos or breaking down skills needed for a specific move. Class planning at its easiest!

Also, you'll be following in the footsteps of many a professional dance company. Several dance companies are known for the dances they put on year after year, and the choreography that goes with them. They don't change it up very often--why should you? Don't be afraid to tweak it every so often, if you don't like a part or you just notice your dancers having a hard time with sections, but there's no reason to throw out all your hard work and start afresh. If you want something new, just add it to your repertoire!

My very first dance teacher had 4 or 5 choreos that she taught beginning students. I recently saw a video of her latest students doing a performance--they were still doing the same choreos I learned in her beginning class, but each dancer added her own personality to it. If you stick to a set of core choreographies, you won't ever look like the same tired old troupe. There's always new dancers, new costumes, new blocking, and new venues.

In short, having a set of choreographies is only beneficial to you and your students. You'll have an easier time planning classes, your students have something to work towards, even if it's not a performance, and you'll always be ready for a show. You can't beat it!

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