Pedralta World Fusion®

Guidelines for teachers and students

Teachers

As teachers our first responsibility is not to injure our students. That sounds pretty obvious but it needs to be said.

Are qualifications really necessary?

I’ve heard and read a lot about this subject from fellow dancers and students.

Many believe that as this art form has been handed down for generations from mother to daughter, there’s no need for teachers of this dance to be qualified in any way, that it’s sufficient to have a great love for the dance and its history. It involves individual expression and, therefore, anything goes.

There are many flaws with this argument. Firstly, in this country at least, we are not talking about a dance form being handed down from mother to daughter. For the most part we’re discussing adult learning.

I believe we all have an innate ability to dance. You only have to watch young children respond to music.

To assert that a particular dance technique runs through your veins is silly. Egyptian woman do not enter the world shimmying. Spanish women do not enter the world able to perform complicated rhythmic foot patterns, any more than you and I could clog dance from birth if we were born in Lancashire!

What we’re talking about is social dance, dancing together at weddings and parties, throwing in the odd hip drop. Free self-expression, responding to music that motivates you to move your body is wonderful.

Learning a specific dance technique and more importantly, being able to teach others and cause no harm, is a different prospect altogether.

If a dance teacher has only learnt from one source then her knowledge and scope will be very limited. While DVDs and the odd workshop may be a great way to learn recreational dance for yourself, they will not give you the skills and expertise needed to teach.

Neither will attending classes with the same teacher, for ‘x’ number of years - especially if that teacher also learnt this way. To repeat bad practice for years is not conducive to good teaching. We cannot hope to raise the standards and status of the dance in this way.

Being a good dancer yourself does not give you the necessary skills required to teach others. You need to be able to break down moves and offer different explanations of technique. Dance moves that you find relatively easy may pose a real challenge for others.

Safety and Injury Prevention

You must be aware of safety issues and how to prevent injury. Students will come to your classes with a variety of health issues and body types. They will also have different goals. You should know how effective the dance could be in helping weight loss and improving fitness. (We’re usually talking about cardio-vascular function here, but fitness could also include increased flexibility.)

You should not give advice unless you’re qualified to give it.

Students will invest you with a lot of knowledge that you may not have. What advice would you give to a newly pregnant woman who wanted to join your class, and on what research would your response be based?

This wonderful dance form can accommodate all shapes and sizes, levels of fitness and even disability, but teachers need to know the risks too. Many dance injuries - especially to backs and knees - happen over time, caused by poor technique and posture or the body not being prepared properly.

Many dance teachers find themselves teaching almost by default. They may move to an area where there’s no class and so they set one up. Dancers sometimes find they’re called on to teach when their own teacher becomes ill or retires. Whatever the circumstances it’s never too late to invest in some training to keep yourself and your students safe and on track.

Dance or Fitness Training

This should include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Preparation of lessons, including suitable warm-ups and stretching exercises
  • Health and safety

First Aid Training

Speaks for itself. We all hope that accidents don’t happen or students won’t become ill suddenly - but sometimes they do.

Contact the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) www.exerciseregister.org for a list of their courses and accredited providers.

An Exercise To Music Certificate will cover all I’ve discussed above and it’s well worth the investment. There are also accredited specialist courses for those wanting to teach older people, pregnant women etc.

What is intensive dance training and experience?

By this I mean dance training in at least two styles from a reputable teacher.

Look for a course that where a certain standard has to be achieved to pass. An attendance certificate counts for nothing.

This is very difficult to define, but look for teachers who run teacher training course such as Keti Sherif who visits from time-to-time from Australia. Keti is a fitness trainer and her course covers not only dance and dance history, but also safety aspects and support for new teachers.

For American Tribal Style

Teachers should have trained with the better-known troupes such as: Fat Chance Belly Dance, Gypsy Caravan, Black Sheep, Ultra Gypsy and Domba - and preferably have a fitness teaching certificate too.

The reason for this is that all American Tribal Dance has its roots in FatChance style. The groups I’ve mentioned evolved as members of FatChance then moved on to develop and evolve the dance form.

This is a natural progression for all types of dance, but if teachers move too far from the roots then things can become confused. As I touch on in my Tribal Bellydance article, some UK teachers claiming to teach ATS or Tribal are teaching a kind of tribal fusion - using the look and feel of ATS to create choreography.

Without the foundation moves its not possible to dance the improvised form of the dance. You need a good basic foundation from which you later experiment with your own ideas.

“While the look and enthusiasm for ATS has taken off like wildfire, the fundamental concept seems to have been lost in many cases.”
Carolena Nericcio

By “trained with” I don’t mean workshops; I mean intensive time spent with the troupes/ teachers, preferably one-to-one and ongoing mentoring.

If you think you may want to perform at some point, you need to find a teacher who has some performance experience. Likewise if you intend to prepare dancers to perform you need to have experience yourself.

If you’d like to train to teach pure FCBD style ATS then FCBD now run courses.

  • General Skills (This is not a teaching qualification)
  • FCBD Teacher Training is available.

As far as I’m aware, no belly dance teacher qualifications have been accredited in the UK so they would not be recognised by local authorities etc. You could consider General Skills Training and a fitness teacher qualification. It sometimes works out better value and will give you accreditation in the UK.

Check the Register of Exercise Professionals for accredited training. www.exerciseregister.org

Public Liability Insurance

This is absolutely essential for a dance teacher to have. You can obtain insurance through Equity or through various dance organisations such as Mosaic Arabic Dance Network.

Make sure you check out any exclusion such as teaching children or older adults or limitations about where you can teach. Also check that it covers you for performance if you intend to perform.

If you work for a local authority you may be covered on their insurance but check.

Car Insurance

Check that you’re covered to use your car for going to teach classes or performance

Public Performance License

This is another essential to show respect to fellow artists – and to comply with the law. It is the mechanism by which musicians are paid for the music you use during classes and performances.

You must have a license if you intend to play music at performances, classes or haflas.

If you work for a local authority do not assume they have a PPL. They often haven’t heard of one. You are playing the music and it’s your responsibility.

Do not assume either that a restaurant or venue where you work will cover you on their license. Check it out.

More details at http://www.ppluk.com/

Copyright Law

This is a bit of a minefield - but something you need to know about. Basically you are not allowed to make copies of music. There are some exceptions and exemptions but that’s another article.

Many dance teachers risk falling foul of this law when they sell copies of hafla performances, even if the profits go the charity. Beware and check the law carefully. It could cost you dear.

I hope these guidelines are helpful. I would welcome your comments and suggestions. I’m sure I haven’t covered everything here.

More information at http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law