After weeks of office torque ROD jokes and my FREE NUTS sign (for cocoa-almonds at my cubicle), I'm trying to act like a grown-up with feminine interests. I went back to my website to see what aspect I was 'selling' in belly dance. Flavor, dance...YOUR dance with YOUR OWN flavor. Okay, I guess I that makes sense...or maybe I was just really hungry when I made up this campaign. No, no...I meant what I said...and I do what I say.
Here's how it happened: I widely accept that students pick belly dance as a short-term dance project. Whether it is one session, or several sessions to work towards one performance, it's a well-defined goal. It almost fits all that SMART goal standard business: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based. I tell my students that it took me a year of lessons to reach the 'kinda bad' level at belly dance. And, it's my job to set the attainable/realistic portions of student goals in the given timeframe. I've been lucky where it's very straightforward process - my students often do the research and have a plan.
Last summer, I had a student who is a pole expert but always wanted to try belly dance. She drove over an hour each way to take a month of class. After the first class, she decided to belly dance for a tribute performance at a pole dance workshop/convention. "What moves can I comfortably/realistically achieve after one month?" We choreographed most of it and we video-texted back and forth as she practiced for a few more weeks once class was over. Since she was well-versed with pole dance, she added some of her favorite floorwork moves to complement the basic belly dance moves. Plainly stated, she flavored her pole floorwork routine with belly dance.
Around the same timeframe, I got a call from a woman who wanted to hire belly dancers for her September 50th birthday party AND also dance a little bit. She had hired a traditional Egyptian belly dance performer before, but this time she wanted something different. We had two months to prepare and find a few moves that she could own with her fun-loving personality. Her home already had Moroccan decor, so she was drawn to this style. She worked her ghawazee shimmy, and she stayed with the class for another month - so she could perform at a student showcase. She said she wanted to have something to show for all her hard work, including her very own choli. It had a lovely mirrored trim, or "with the pizzazz" as she called it. Her tastes were naturally drawn to ATS® flavor - particularly the North African and Indian portions.
Fast forward to right now. I have a student who has signed up for several dance styles; belly dance, Bhangra and flamenco. Well, we do have a bit of all those going on in ATS®. After seeing her dance today to a flamenco-inspired song, I knew that the newer flamenco-based moves would be interesting to her, as well as the rest of the class. The class was intrigued by some new (and challenging) moves...just as one of my most dedicated students announced that she's relocating to Iowa. Her years of working super hard have warranted the super-duper challenge of dramatic slow movement.
All these circumstances will flavor the next class performance. I'm also working to get the class to feel more confident with eye contact, and there is no faking it when it comes to the powerful moves and song they chose. Encouraging eye contact (for spins or anything, really) is easier when students face another fellow dancer. It's calming to see your dance sister's face instead of a faceless audience. Soooo, we may have to fashion some West Side Story drills and inspiration for this six-person (two trios) formation. It's coming together in my mind's eye...an interpretation of my student flavor profiles. Yesssss.