How to Get the Most Out of Your Belly Dance Class
Despite what you might think your belly dance instructor is not a mind reader. What your dance goals are and what your teacher's goals for you might not always align. To get the most out of your dance classes, I've compiled a few tips and tricks to help you along your dance journey.
1. Make a clear list of goals and subgoals.
Overall goals can be as simple as performing within a troupe or as a soloist for the first time. Any goal you have is valid. Once you have the main goal, create a list of subgoals. Sub goals are small and achievable within a small amount of time. For example, learning a specific movement or bettering your posture.
Once you have a better idea of what you're heading to you can ask the right questions in class or it can lead you to what type of belly dancer teacher you need at the time.
2. Take notes after every class.
This is great for practice at home or reviewing right before the next class. Journaling gives you a clear list of what you have learned and is a good resource to measure your improvement. Keep a small journal with short and to the point notes in your practice bag. Take 5 minutes after class to log your entries. Make sure to date each entry!
3. Ask lots of questions.
I most likely annoy my students by constantly asking, "Does that make sense? Do you have any questions?". I want to make sure that if anything is unclear or isn't said in a way that "clicks" I give the student the opportunity to ask for a different explanation. Use questions to your advantage! Teachers love nothing more than students who engage and force us to explain the movements in unique and different ways.
Asked a question and didn't understand the answer fully? Take time after class if appropriate or contact the teacher. Any great teacher will take time out of their day to help you along your journey.
4. Do homework.
Let's face it. An hour-long class a week will not get you to where you want to go quickly. At home practice of what you did in class (check your written notes!) can help guide you along the right path. Belly dance builds on movement over time. Spending time drilling what you just learned will only strengthen your ability for the next class. Use this practice plan if you want to structure your at home practice.
Want more homework? Ask your teacher! Personally, I love nothing more than to give out extra credit.
5. Find a teacher that works with your personality.
You want to enjoy your belly dance class. It needs to be an oasis from everyday life. If your teacher's personality is not working with your personality, it might be time to try out someone different. This can be difficult if your choices are limited so do keep an open mind to different teaching styles.
6. Be open to new ideas.
Change is hard for everyone. Specifically when you are moving out of your comfort zone. Being more receptive to your teacher's instruction, movement, and preferences can open up new ideas to your dance. You might even find that you like it!
7. Leave the outside world at the door.
Easier said than done, leaving your negativity at the door will help keep you receptive for learning. When you're in a negative place it's hard to focus on what needs to be done. Take a few deep breathes and remember that class is your oasis. It's a time for you to learn, expressive yourself, and move. Turn off your problems for an hour if you can and enjoy.
Kat teaches, dances, and produces shows in Tacoma, Washington. You can find out more about her belly dance classes, belly dance performances, and belly dance shows at www.tacomabellydance.com