In part 1 of Secrets of Successful Belly Dance Teachers, I outlined good traits of any successful person. In part 2, I highlight the secrets of successful belly dance teachers that are more (or less) specific to the belly dance industry and art form.
- Knowledge of the cultural roots of belly dance. All belly dance styles originate in traditional, folkloric and social dances. This is not an opinion. Belly dance did not fall from the sky. Our movements come from a colorful array of cultural dances. The more you know about the cultural origins of the movements and music, the more inspiration and enjoyment you will derive and also give in your teaching. Your classes will be more interesting with more variety.
- Continually learn, evolve and grow. A successful belly dance teacher dedicates time, effort and yes, money, to her continuing education. Education can be further study in belly dance or it could mean taking up a whole new dance form or activity. While most of us will focus our energies on belly dance-related studies, don’t underestimate the benefits of learning any new creative endeavor where you are a student, experiencing the learning process.
- Participate in the local belly dance community. We know that networking is important and it builds bridges. If you make it a point to attend at least a few community events each year, you’re doing great. Be sure also attend events where you are not dancing and show your support. It’s quite nice to sit back and enjoy the show without being in it.
- Encourage and support other teachers and dancers. When we build others up, everyone benefits. When we discourage or criticize others, it hurts everyone, most of all, ourselves. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, think harder. There are many ways to be diplomatic and positive. Try to find the potential in everything and everyone for mutual benefit. And if you can’t find it, let it go and focus on the wonderful things you envision. Many situations can become win-win even if it appears they are not. But you will never know if you don’t explore the possibilities. No one will ever take your piece of the pie if you believe there is infinite pie.
- Adapt. It’s natural to blame outside factors when our plans fail. I’ve experienced them all. “Zumba is threatening my class enrollment.” “The teacher from the other side of town is poaching on my students.” “I can’t get anyone in my class because people around here think belly dance is sleazy,”“My students don’t take the class seriously or are not reliable.” While these reasons may be totally legitimate, blaming others doesn’t make your life any easier and you won’t become any more successful. Times change, trends change, people change…you need to change too. Evolve and go with the flow, try again. Ask why? Be open to the answers you discover and remember number #2. Learn, evolve grow. You are worth the effort and the world deserves your talents. So don’t give up if you love what you do. Ask questions, explore new things and learn ways to adapt to the changing world.
These are just some of the traits and habits of successful belly dance teachers. Next time, I’ll share things I wish I had known as a new teacher.