You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Twisted Tails’ tag.

Earlier this year I wrote quite a long post about teaching with tips for teachers. Having re-read it recently I think there are a couple more tips that are also important.  More fundamental, perhaps, than what I wrote then.  This is what I’m talking about here.

1. Lesson Planning

Have a plan, let your students know it and make sure you stick to it.  Now it is fine to go off on a tangent if something relevant comes up, but make sure you get back to the main thing you had planned to do, and make sure you do it.

Tell your students what you’re planning on teaching them, and then teach them that. If you want to be really awesome, summarise what they’ve learned at the end. This is the older teacher’s hat trick of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them it, then tell them what you told them.”  One of the best examples of this I’ve had lately is the ATS Classes at Drummond High School.  On the first day of term I was given a list of the moves I’d be learning during the term.  And we did learn all the moves that were on the sheet. They also handed out a suggested music list and some biographical information about the teacher, which was very helpful and informative.

To help keep you on track a playlist can be really helpful.  If you’ve planned it out beforehand, you can pick music that suits what you want to teach in the class.  You can have your warm-up music, then music suitable to whatever you’re teaching, and lastly the cool-down music.  Build your playlist so that it’s as long as your class is. Then, if that’s running in the background, the start of the cool-down music will remind you it’s time to start winding down the lesson, stretching out and summarising what you’ve taught that day or so far that term.  It will also help keep you on time, which leads nicely onto the next tip:

2. Time Management

Be mindful of the time.  There’s nothing wrong with looking over at a clock or your watch to check how much time there is left in the class and adjusting your teaching accordingly. Make sure you bring a watch or a clock – don’t rely on the venue!

I know that sometimes it can be rude to check your watch – teaching is not one of those times.  When teaching, it is rude not to be mindful of time. If you don’t pay attention to time you could overrun. This is particularly problematic if there is another class waiting to get into your space. There was one particular class I was a student of where the (non-bellydance) class before always overran by 3-5 minutes and that ate into our time. It was so frustrating.  We use to stand at the side and jingle our coin belts to try and give their teacher a not-so subtle hint.

Even when you’re not eating into another classes’ time, if you overrun you are eating into your students time.  They will more than likely have somewhere to be once class is over. In your class there are probably a few busy people who have every minute of the day accounted for.  There may be students who have arranged childcare to cover the class and need to get back to their kids promptly. If you don’t finish on time you are eating into their time, time which they have not agreed to give you when they signed up for the class.

I once had a workshop that started very late because we were all chatting, teacher included.  Because of the late start the workshop overran by at least 30 minutes.  I say “at least” because at that point I had to leave as I’d made arrangements for later in the day and couldn’t stay any longer. The workshop kept going after I left.  That teacher’s lack of timekeeping meant I had to choose between missing out on teaching I’d already paid for and was looking forward to, or being late/missing the thing I’d planned for later.  So while it might seem rude to start a class when people are still chatting, it’s really not.  You are being respectful of everyone’s time.

Many thanks to the lovely Atiya who got me thinking about this.  She’s starting classes up in Dundee – if you’re in the area go check them out!

Related Posts:

In late September last year I injured my back after a long weekend full of exuberant DIY. I didn’t know I’d injured it at the time – there was no spasm, or any pain other than what seemed like regular muscle pain from a weekend of hard work. It was twingey on Monday, gaining to very sore by Tuesday, increasing in pain to the point that I ended up with a recommended local osteopath (the fantastic Lynn Bennett) and at my doctors.

The (locum) doctor gave me lots of strong painkillers and (essentially) told me to go away for twelve weeks. Lynn, the osteopath, was much more helpful, and in addition to diagnosing me as hypermobile, gave me “adjustments” that eased the pain on a temporary basis. Over a number of weeks, seeing Lynn helped reduce my pain considerably, though due to my hypermobility her adjustments wouldn’t fully “stick” particularly long – my back would just adjust itself back to being sore within a day or so, sometimes less. Lynn explained with my kind of back and this type of problem that it would probably take quite a bit of time for it to fully settle down. For a long-term solution, she suggested that I go to Pilates classes to help strengthen my core, which would then support and stabilise my back and reduce the pain and the chance of the pain returning.

Well, I hummed, and hawed about it. I’d been to a Pilates class once before (courtesy of a curious friend). I had not enjoyed the Pilates class. It felt a bit like Yoga (which I like), without any of the calmness, bendiness or precision (which I also like). Additionally, it seemed like my back was settling down and slowly getting back to normal with her treatments so I put the Pilates classes off and mentally marked them as a “maybe”.

Fast-forward to January, when my back went into an incredibly painful spasm while I was at home. I had to take several days off work. I went back to the doctors and was given more painkillers, my hypermobile diagnosis was confirmed by them, and I was given a note excusing me from my up-and-coming jury duty.

All and all it was not – in any way – a good experience.

What it did do, however, was make up my mind about trying a Pilates class. Anything, anything, would be better than going through that pain again. I asked around and a former student suggested I try Bea Alexander Pilates. After going onto her waiting list (she is REALLY popular), I managed to get into a beginners class. I explained to Bea about my injury & hypermobility, and have found her to be an exceptionally anatomically knowledgeable teacher, as well as an excellent and clear instructor.

My back pain hasn’t gone completely, and some days it flares back up again, but it has definitely reduced. And I also now have exercises I can do at home or work that help alleviate the pain, so things are looking up.

Prior to all this happening I was looking forward to learning ATS with Susan Tonner at Drummond High School. I managed most of her fantastic classes in the Sept-Dec term (with my osteo’s blessing I might add), and had planned to go back in January, but with my very limited time I had to choose between that class and attending Pilates. Pain made the decision for me.

It’s frustrating to not be able to make my choices based on desire rather than necessity, particularly when it comes to what exercise I choose (a realm I’m used to having choice in). Trying to get used to not being fully able-bodied (hopefully temporarily) is difficult and frustrating. Still, I’m hoping I will emerge from the other side of this with a pain-free back and a strong core, which will hopefully positively impact on my dancing too.

After a little bit of stress about where we would perform (NOT the cobbles!) and worry about whether or not the weather would hold, things turned out marvellously! Nice paving stones for the dancers to perform on and nice sunny weather (though there was a bit of wind). I wasn’t ‘together’ enough to remember to bring my camera, but Susanna of Habiba Dance has very kindly allowed me to use her (beautiful) pictures from the event.

There were some technical difficulties right at the start of the event, which plagued the beginning of the youth choir, but got ironed out and the kids sung their hearts out. It was very cute. Following them were Susan Tonner’s ‘Twisted Tails’ tribal group:

(Picture courtesy of Susanne, Habiba Dance)

There were loads of them, all beautifully and lushly dressed, all co-ordinated. What I love about tribal is its strength and dignity and this performance had that in spades. Well done ladies!

Next up was a band described as “Samba Fusion” – it comprised of bagpipes, electric guitarists, singers and young people playing drums. Really interesting sounds, and I was particularly happy when they put out a version of a Proclaimers song (I have a soft spot for the Proclaimers, what can I say?). Following them were another band, fronted by the cousin of one of my students (such a small world!). They were raising money for LGBT Youth Scotland, and man that singer could wail! He had a brilliant voice and the rest of the band were equally talented. My attention started to dwindle however, not because of any lack of talent from these guys, but because my girls were up next…

They performed beautifully – I was so proud; their first public performance! Susanna captured them below just after they’d finished all together with Elspeth’s class – you can see some of the performers still in their final pose. Although the theme colours of the event were red, I had my girls in blue to differentiate them from Elspeth’s dancers. They made their tassel/fringe belts themselves and either made or customised their own tops too. What talented ladies they are, in many fields!

(Picture courtesy of Susanne, Habiba Dance)

Next up were Hilary Thacker’s students, performing a veil dance. The wind had picked up by this point, but they managed admirably, veils held for much of the time in a ‘backwards butterfly’ position which coped well with the wind. The tie-dye silk looks really nice fluttering in the breeze. Following on their heels were local troupe Zahirah, who’d managed to put a choreography together despite not actually being able to practice together (the wonders of modern technology!) and despite injury. Last on were the Helwa Hurdies, dancing their lovely flamenco-inspired piece. It’s one I’ve seen before but I was happy to see it again, it was beautiful and strong and a great note to end the bellydancing on. And here’s some footage Elspeth took of the dancing:

After the Hurdies performed the balloons were released. Check out the expression on the kids faces:

(Picture courtesy of Susanne, Habiba Dance)

It was a great night, lots of community spirit (in spite of one bothersome/attention seeking kid) and lots of local talent!

…and you know, I think the next time I’ll be seeing live bellydance performances will be at the Mussleburgh Hafla, July 1st. Hope you can make it too!

…and what a treat you have in store for you – not one bellydance performance, not two bellydance performances but a whole heap of them!

After a local choir kicks things off at the “Red Leith” event at 7.30pm you will be entertained by the ‘Twisted Tails’ tribal bellydance group. THEN after some upbeat Samba fusion and more music some of the other Leith Bellydancers will be up to entertain you around about 9pm. Students from Elsepth’s and my own class will be performing together, students of Hilary Thacker will be dancing as will local group Zahirah, and of course veteran performers, the Helwa Hurdies!

So come along and make some noise for the Leith Bellydancers! Friday, 7.30pm, Malmaison at the Shore – be there or be square 😉

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 315 other followers

Twitter Updates

May 2017
M T W T F S S
« May    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031