photo by York Wilson Photography

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Teaching is Addictive

I fracking love teaching. It might be my favorite thing about the entire bellydance experience-- as much as I love being in my two/threeish troupes (yay troupes) and performing (and oh believe me I love both of them very much), teaching probably wins.
I've been teaching two ongoing classes in Durham on Saturdays for about a year and a half now. I just went through all my class records and found out just how loyal many of my students have been since the very beginning-- which is to say, SUPER LOYAL. Most of the students who signed up for class in the first session are still around. I don't want to gloat, but I think this is an accomplishment. I like to think these dancers have stayed with me because I'm nice and not an ego freak or whatever, but also because I am always trying to improve my classes and make them more student-centered.
I am lucky enough to be able to start an intermediate class this session because I have enough students that are willing and able to populate it. I wasn't sure this would ever happen, but I am so glad that it did.
I am constantly getting more and more excited about teaching. I am always hunting for resources to make my teaching style and the content of my classes more safe/coherent/helpful/insightful. My students are awesome and have been willing to tolerate this constant experimentation with our class format, which I am super greatful for. They give me good feedback and let me know what works best for them when I ask. Without their input and influence, I don't think I could have progressed as a teacher in the way that I have in the last year. (My students are fantastic, basically.)
I've found that one of the best things that I have ever done for my classes, both for myself as a teacher and for my students, was to start making and keeping really detailed notes. Writing class notes forces me to think more critically about both what I am teaching and how I am presenting the class content. You can't reach everyone, but I want to be able to make my classes accessible for as many people as possible- people with different dance backgrounds (or none whatsoever), different kinds of learners, different ages and fitness levels, whatever. Writing notes (especially beforehand) allows me to evaluate and refine my teaching strategies.
I want to keep my class content constantly evolving. I don't see myself ever having a "format" (not that I am accomplished enough to merit my own format in any case, but maybe I will be after the next few decades if I work at it) because I always want the freedom to make things more ideal. I have the memory of a goldfish, so if I don't write down what I am teaching, I will never remember what I did in previous sessions, let alone be able to go back and wonder what I could have done better.
Keeping notes is a lot of work to begin with, but it's completely, totally, 100% worth it in the end, I swear.
I feel like there is some kind of personal alchemy that happens when people learn how to dance. I can't imagine who I would be if my teachers hadn't opened this world up to me. Until we learn to accept and inhabit our physical selves, we're living as only part of what we really are and discarding the rest. Dance bridges this gap. I love seeing my students begin to be really present and comfortable in their own skin. I am proud and honored to be able to foster this transformation for other people. It gets me through the week at my day job! I'm pretty much always living for Saturdays.
This post isn't supposed to be a plug for my classes. However, if you'd like some of the class infos and deets, it's available on my main website at


Hey Sara, I enjoyed reading your post. thanks.....Mara
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