This week I had an interesting adventure in mixing two parts of my life that don't usually encounter each other.
As well as being a bellydancer, I an a qualified Secondary School teacher. I no longer teach in a permanent position, but to maintain my classroom skills, I decided this year to do a small amount of supply teaching (although I like to call myself an Educational Mercenary, I am hoping this will catch on). Being back in the classroom after a long maternity break, let alone as a "suspicious interloper" has been challenging and interesting. Taking a rushed scrap of cover work and turning it into a "proper" lesson with real value, whilst keeping the group under control feels a bit like an extreme sport. This week however, I went in, not as a Science teacher, but as a dance teacher.
Through Scarlet Lotus Dance I have been offering services to schools for a while. There is however, a world of difference between turning up as a guest to teach my own workshop to a group of students (and supervising staff) who view my presence as a "treat", and being the lone stranger who the students encounter when they expect their regular teacher. There is also an enormous world of difference between my teaching and the GCSE dance curriculum (which I am not at all familiar with), so I was fairly nervous about turning up and teaching a school dance teacher's lesson plans.
I have to say though, I had a fabulous day. I taught my own warm up and cool downs, and the students loved them. The year 7s were a big ragged around the edges after a lively warm up to some funky music, so it's a good job I had a lesson plan for them and didn't have to resort to my back up dance conditioning lesson! I was missing some resources for them, and as they were studying gesture, I taught them how gesture is used in Arabic dance for part of the lesson.
I really enjoyed watching the GCSE group rehearsing their exam pieces. I have never studied dance outside of the frame of bellydance. That is to say I have done some Laban theory, but taught by a bellydancer with a bellydance focus. I know some steps and sequences from Streetdance, Ballet, Jazz, Rajasthani and Reggaeton, but only in the context of bellydance fusion. So when I watch dance, I watch it from a bellydance point of view.
The differences in musicality and aesthetic fascinate me. In particular the use of stillness, or travelling without layering anything crazy on top of it. Sometimes to me it seems bland or stark, but sometimes it is clean and powerful.
I think sometimes as bellydancers we feel we have to fill the space, or hit every accent or melodic nuance in the music. Although often that is impressive, or even could be what gives the dance its character, I think we are often afraid to pare it back and take a moment, just a little moment, to be, as the gorgeous Pauline Qu put it at Majma this year, our own bad selves.
So that was a fun, though exhausting day (11 year olds seem to make noise in proportion to the space around them - the dance studio was BIG). It went pretty well, so I have a feeling that, considering most non-dance-specialists despise covering dance lessons, I will be doing it again soon.