OK, so I actually have a dance teacher, a very good one. She has developed her own method for teaching and performing belly dance, a way which focuses on technical precision and doing little harm to the body. I really admire that cerebral aspect of her style and method, though sometimes it's execution can leave me a little . . . uninspired.
Beyond that, though, I have no teacher in the style I dance. I like to refer to Baltimore as the "Tribal Hinterlands". There is interest here. There have been classes, though three teachers have moved/stopped teaching, one's style has changed, and two other teachers admit that they are teaching a highly fused style that is moving away from belly dance. One of my troupe mates is teaching a beginner improv tribal class, for non-baby beginner belly dancers who want to try out the tribal waters. It's a small class so far, but I bet it will generate a lot of interest (go Lyra!).
So for those of us who are past the beginning stages of ATS or ATS based tribal there is really nothing. There are the options of workshops, traveling to teachers, and video study - we're lucky DC and it's strong tribal scene is so close! When there were teachers tribally focused teachers in Baltimore I found I took beginner classes over and over because of the interruptions in classes or having to switch my teacher when the previous one stopped teaching. Though I think my basic grounding in the style is stronger because of this repetition, it's also frustrating to know that my tribal education was held back because my dance classes did not progress in a constructive linear fashion.
There are some days I feel like I would kill for a teacher in the style I love. I have my troupe, which is fantastic, but sometimes I don't want to be self directed! I want someone to tell me How It Is and How To Do It, to make decisions and inspire me. I want someone else to tell me when we're performing, what we're wearing and what music we're using. I want someone to kick my butt when I'm tired and pat me on the back when I'm doing a good job. I want someone to look up to.
While having a tough time in class a few weeks ago, hour 2.25 out of 2.5 hours, I almost started crying right in the middle of the class. As much as I can admire my teacher 's style it is not what I love, and it doesn't feel natural to my body. I was so frustrated; I want to be learning and working hard at what I love, not at something that doesn't really move me. All of a sudden my chest got tight and my eyes started to tear up, and I was grateful for the beginning of our cool down and the moment to collect myself.
I keep going back to class because one (me) cannot live on video instruction and self motivation along. I need the kick in the butt provided by an actual class, the feedback provided by a real live teacher. But sometimes I get really sad thinking of the lucky students who get to study the dance style they really love and I wish it was me.
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