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Workshop thoughts

This afternoon, I've been trying to work on Workshop Topics, to update my list to pass on to prospective sponsors. And the more I think about it, the more I find it difficult to create helpful and potentially educative workshop topics. And this is for why...

My difficulty in setting up a list of workshop topics is that usually the organiser of the event wants to have a Wham! Bam! Kapow! workshop title to pull the punters in. There's nothing wrong with that, of course they want to put on workshops that will be Big Hitters, popular with a lot of students, so that they are able to make lots of money, which is all to the good, because then I can make lots of money too... So the workshops that seem to be popular are all New Things- new props, new fusions, new styles... Things that people won't have done before, something big and striking. But my style is neither new nor striking, alas!

I've generally found that the things that have been most helpful to me and my dancing in workshops haven't really been the Big Hit Title, they've been about the lightbulb moments of simple (but often fundamental) things, things that the workshop wasn't particularly supposed to be about, small but significant things, like how to make your moves follow through, or how to make your transitions smooth, like breathing properly while you dance, like engaging muscles you might not have thought to engage by yourself.

I guess it comes down to the whole "give a man a fish" principle. A lot of workshops are about giving the students a fish (a gangnam style fusion choreography, say, or learning how to use floral balls as a prop... I'm exaggerating, but you know the sort of thing I mean), whereas what I want to do is teach students HOW to fish, how to think about their own dancing. I want to get students to find out what they can do to make themselves better dancers, rather than teaching them a series of combinations, or a choreography, or 101 stick tricks. I want dancers to Think as well as Dance.

I don't know if I'm being unreasonably up myself. How can I knock my 20 Combinations in 2 hours workshop, when it's proved so unerringly popular over several years[*]? Or my Stick workshop, when I get the chance to teach proper Sa'aidi? I just feel like that sort of workshop is ok for students who just want to tick that prop off their list, or do a bit of fun bopping around, and there's nothing wrong with that, I know. But it's becoming harder and harder to reinvent what I do to make it sound new and exciting and something that everyone would want to try. The stuff that *really* interests me, intellectually, as a teacher is probably only what a very small minority of students are interested in! It's great material for Private Classes, one-to-one coaching, but not for workshops!

[*] They're different combos each time, obviously. I haven't been using the same ones over and over again!



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)
I find the further I come along as a student, the less and less I want specialty topics in a workshop and the more I want refinement of the basics. Simple topics for advanced students, I guess! Hopefully that market is out there for you, but it may take some extra reaching out to find it, or to convince workshop organizers that it's there and willing to pay.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 09:05 am (UTC)
this. And it is a shame that most students are not into refining the basics, though understandable because 'that is why I take classes'. *sigh* Students rarely think that it takes knowledge from several sources on the same subject so you can reflect on the basics frm different angles.

I'd love to take a workshop with you.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 01:21 pm (UTC)
I'm agreeing with you and the others too. It's the depth and the meaty skills stuff that matters.

Combinations are my bete noire, though my inability to recall them and put them into new contexts may also be behind my "originality". I wish I could remember them better and use them more. The amount of stuff I just FORGET that I can do, that's so lovely, is immense. Visiting YouTube to remind myself what bellydance looks like before a performance is so key.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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