In an age where “branding” is important in self promotion, I keep seeing the term, “master teacher” used a lot. It’s made me wonder about that term and why it’s used so much in bellydance advertising.
A celebrity dance star, is not necessarily a master teacher, whether a local star, or touring workshop star. They may have developed amazing dance skills and good teaching skills, but that doesn’t mean they are a master at teaching dance. Perhaps they are a master of marketing and not such a great dancer or teacher? Many dance stars love developing a following of admirers. If that’s ok with you and you like being part of a fan club and are just having fun, then great! But, if you want to take your dance to new heights, make sure the dancer you are following really cares about advancing their students.
Many students and dancers are drawn in by the glamour, glitter and fame that some dancers acquire. They may feel that somehow by being in that dancer’s presence, that their “magic” will somehow rub off on them, if they attend their workshops or classes. Not that the information isn’t valuable and dance worthy, but one has to ask their self, “what am I getting out of this in the long run?”
Do I just want to say I studied with this person because they are famous? Am I deluding myself by thinking I will get famous somehow by copying, or attaching myself to this dancer? How is this moving me forward in MY dancing?
Master teachers have the highest expectations of themselves for being exemplary teachers. They are experts in their field. They motivate students to set and strive for the highest expectations of themselves. Their purpose for teaching is not to have a fan club, or to make clones of their self. Master teachers exemplify ethical standards, have a passion for teaching, and believe all students can learn. They have respectful classrooms, and foster and maintain the respect of their students.
Maybe a master teacher isn’t for you. If you just want to have fun and find a community to dance with, there’s someone out there for you. Find a teacher that is supportive and nurturing, and who cares about their students. Good teachers create a positive learning environment.
When choosing a teacher, think about your dance goals and what you want to achieve. It’s a journey, have fun searching! Attend workshops, local dance classes and performances, AND PRACTICE! Building your dance skills is definitely a process. It’s not going to happen overnight. Nope, there’s no magic pill.
Can’t find a good teacher? Many teachers such as myself, teach on Skype or have other online classes. Just watching videos of dancers isn’t enough. Don’t fall into the YouTube syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, YouTube is wonderful! You can see dancers all over the world! It can be very inspiring and has value, but it’s not the way to learn dance. Dancers need the guidance of a skilled teacher. Nothing can replace that.