Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Renée’s Teaching Diary 9/10/09
First class at the Boulder Creek Rec Hall last Thursday morning. Had 3 women I didn’t know, plus Audrey for a total of 4 students! All of us over 40, at least. All of us with physical limitations. My goal for this class is to find ways to dance that respect those limitations while also developing dancing skills and confidence. Ultimately, I just want us to experience the sheer pleasure of dancing together.
Although I’d tried to prepare a syllabus, I really didn’t have much planned. I had a short warm up (which I ended up using as a cool down as well). And I decided on-the-fly to introduce the shimmy, Egyptian hip twist, ribcage slide, and chest lift. I finished with a lesson in grapevines and then jeni jol, a Macedonian folk dance that incorporates a hip bump and a modified grapevine. I think everyone should be able to do a grapevine step.
I explained that the grapevine is performed in all variety of dance from ballet to bellydance and if you master it you will be able to dance anywhere in the world. I broke it down very carefully: cross right foot over left, step side left, cross back with R, step left again. Four steps equal one grapevine. All of a sudden one of my students stopped: “This is The Stroll!” she exclaimed. We did it like this…” and she proceeded to execute a cool little grapevine with a 1950s groove (if you can remember the song “C C Rider” you’re probably old enough to have learned The Stroll). These are precisely the body memories I am hoping they will tap into. When I mentioned that a hip twist is just a formalized version of the Chubby Checkers dance, I saw a change in their level of confidence. What I hope they are thinking is: Oh, I can do this.
I’m also teaching ATS privately. We started with the basics: Egyptian, crescent, choo choo, and Arabic. Sort of the four major food groups of American Tribal Style. I do love teaching, especially dance.