Tuesday, March 01, 2011

the ats language and no fighting - ats teacher training 1, days 1 & 2

So, General Skills Training was over. We had a two-day break and I used it wisely by skipping Jill Parker's class and going grocery shopping on Saturday. I hope I didn't miss much of the class.

On Sunday, I went to Dance Conditioning class at FCBD studio. The Dance Conditioning class is always amazing and I can't believe it's already on its fifth week! Only three weeks left!

And then, came the day for the Teacher Training (TT) 1. I sort of had a vague idea of what was going to happen. Ms. Lalwani said that Ms. Nericcio would make us do the steps and movements and teach them in front of the class. I was nervous about that. I mean, yeah, I teach bellydance, but it's ORIENTAL (and some Tribal Fusion, which obviously uses lots of movements from ATS). And then there was going to be other teachers (AND THE CREATRIX HERSELF) in the room, so I just felt unsure of myself.

On the first day, Ms. Nericcio went over a several pointers in teaching ATS. All of them are helpful, even for those with teaching experience. But there's one that resonates deeply, and that one is (written in capital letters in the Teaching Manual given to us): NEVER CONTRADICT ANOTHER TEACHER.

Clearly, this is the diplomacy that everyone in the bellydance world has to know. And that one point really slapped me hard in the face. There were instances when I just said, "God, how can that person be teaching?" and there were also times when people would say that my Tribal Fusion is WRONG.

Ms. Nericcio gave us an example. A student walked in to your class, learned a move, and then said, "But that's not how so-and-so taught me. So which one is the correct one? Yours or so-and-so's?" Here's how you reply: "Well, some teachers have different ways of teaching, but everything comes from one source. In my class, I teach it this way."

Now that's diplomacy. In most cases, the teacher was doing the right move, but with different choice of words than what you said, and the student didn't get it.

And telling people that a teacher is doing it wrong, is just classless and tacky and tarty. And so, from that day forth, I shall never, ever say that another teacher is wrong, be it Oriental, Tribal Fusion, ATS, or any kind of fusion. That being said, I still won't delete my old blog posts.

After the lecture, each of us had to pick a card that Ms. Nericcio placed in front of the room. I chose to do Shimmy (with Turn in Place). In case you didn't notice, my alias here is "the boy who shimmies", so it was just so apt that I got to do it. I'm not going to tell you the details, but it went well and I learned so much. After each of us presented the step or movement, Ms. Nericcio would give direct feedback and correct our explanation if it needed correction.

Before we went home, we had to choose three cards that each represent a step or a movement. We were to present the movement on the second day. For the slow movements, I chose Wrap Around Turn and Flutter. For the fast step, I chose Reverse Shimmy (of course!).

On the second day, we had two chances to present the moves. I finally presented Wrap Around Turn and Flutter. I decided that I'm so much in love with the Flutter and I had a hard time learning to do it so it would be good to share the way I learned it, as taught by Ms. Nericcio through her video (Tribal Basics vol. 4) and Ms. Miftahul Jannah of the velvetRAQS (my Oriental teacher for three years and counting). I guess I was doing a good job because one of the participants actually came up to me afterwards and complimented me on teaching Flutter. She had been trying to do it for sometime but never got a satisfying result. When I taught how to do it, she was finally able to flutter, albeit for a short period of time.

Well... I learned from the best teachers, and it took me a year to finally master it.

One last thing. Elizabeth from Italy (she's five month pregnant) made a very true statement. She speaks good English (although she doesn't want to admit it). But when she had to teach in front of the class using English, she sometimes stuttered and just lost her words. So after presenting a step (Spins - I LOVE SPINS!), she asked, "Would you like to drill?" and we all nodded our heads, she answered, "Very good! It's much easier to dance! No language!"

And that just about summed up this whole American Tribal Style thing. It's a language in dancing that transcends the verbal and written languages of the world. I can be dancing ATS with Sherry (a Taiwanese in our TT 1 class who doesn't speak very good English) or with Ilhaam (a Spanish in our GS and TT 1 classes who also doesn't speak very good English) and yet the dance just flows naturally.

And that, my friends, is not magic. That is hard work and dedication.

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