8.15.2012

It's Like Cheating On Your Hairdresser….Only Worse

It feels kinda like cheating on your hairdresser only 10 times worse. 
Did the thought of taking  a bellydance class from someone other than your first teacher feel a little weird?

I felt so much turmoil that I felt I had to fess up and actually asked Teacher A if it was ok to continue taking classes from other teachers. I had just been invited to join the student troupe of a different prominent SF teacher, Teacher B. So I was starstruck and confused. Teacher A explained to me that the styles were so different that I would benefit more from learning one style format first. Honestly I wasn't expecting that answer. So even though it made me a little sad, I took her advice. I turned down the invitation and stuck to one school.
I have never regretted that decision. I'm glad I learned a format thoroughly early on. I,  however, do wish I would have explored beyond her style much sooner than I eventually did.

Yes, of course it's ok!
Assuming you have a teacher that has your best interest at heart and s/he is doing their job correctly, yes it's ok to move beyond your first teacher. Well, to be clear it's always ok it's just going to be a little messier if the teacher is controlling and selfish -- yes, sadly, those exist. But that's a whole different article.

A solid foundation is vital. It's ok to stick to one teacher for a while. But as you mature as a dancer it's crucial to at least get a taste of other formats, theories and philosophies. Another key component essential to growth, often overlooked, is space. It is in the (alone) space that you have time and silence to make sense of it all. That is when you put everything you've learned to the test. And from this comes how you repay that wonderful first teacher for all their effort and support. You repay by being the best dancer you can be. As an instructor and a student myself, I see no greater reward.

A true teacher will always remain with you even if not always in the physical sense.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires" - William Arthur Ward.

Be true to you and, in the process, your teacher.
When you decided to take bellydance classes, you signed up for more than just dance classes. You signed up to grow. Learning a new skill, craft or art-form has self development and self growth built in. If you're doing it right there's no way around it. Be true to your original vision, be true to yourself and keep growing. In doing so you will honor yourself and your teachers.

Now if it were only that simple to tell my hairdresser I'm going to somebody else, I'd be golden.
What was your experience moving beyond your first teacher? What did you do to get through it? Tell me in the comments.
xo,
Gina

4 comments:

  1. I've been pretty fortunate to have teachers who encouraged me to study with other dancers, and who were understanding when I needed to stop going to their classes and study with other teachers instead -- it probably helps that I made sure to part on very good terms, and to continue to recommend them to people who ask me who they should study with :) But it was hard to make the initial decision! I have really liked all of my teachers, and when you like someone so much, it's hard to stop studying with them, even when you've decided that you need to pursue a different style or a teacher who is closer to home.

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    1. I think most teachers are pretty reasonable. Many have gone through the same path their own students are going through so they understand. I have met a few teachers who "encourage" students study with other teachers but then really aren't so keen on it. I figure it's all part of growing for the teacher as well.
      I agree it's difficult to take that initial step of change. I used to get so comfortable that even within the same school my instructor had to push me out of class and onto the next level!! Thank goodness for those patient teachers!

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  2. I first started taking bellydance lessons from a teacher in Socorro, NM. It was a really small town, so there was really only one person to take from. I adored her (and still do)! It was hard when I moved, and I miss her even today.

    So when I moved to Tucson, I took lessons from a couple of different teachers. I always took it for granted that taking from multiple teachers was acceptable. I used to figure skate, and getting instruction from 3-4 people was encouraged - indeed, was the norm! For the most part, my teachers didn't care that I was taking lessons from multiple people. One teacher did though, and it was the source of a lot of tension. I think we've reached an agreement now, and as long as we both respect each other, things will work out.

    So even though I miss my first teacher, I have loved taking lessons from new people. I think my dancing has improved exponentially, as I learned where my technique was sloppy and needed improvement. I really recommend expanding who you learn from, whether that be from new teachers in your area or subscribing to internet lessons (like Belly Skypes). When I have more time, I intend to explore the latter.

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    Replies
    1. That's a healthy outlook and there's no reason it shouldn't be that way. It happens so often though that many people come to bellydance without the experience or exposure to such a perspective. That plus a teacher with insecurities can complicate things.
      I had a teacher that would give lectures on the value of the guru/student relationship and how disillusioned she was with the level of appreciation and respect from american students. I agree we can build some pretty amazing bonds with some of our teachers but it definitely can't be forced.
      I do see the importance of studying deep with a particular teacher --- IF that's the course you want to go. But you definitely need to get out from time to time.

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Thank you visiting and taking the time to comment. I truly appreciate it.

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