I wanted to talk a little bit about critique in Class.
I'm really big on drilling proper technique and posture into my students, and as dancing is so different from our normal movement vocabulary it takes everybody a good while for their bodies to work out how to move in a new way and even longer to learn to not have to think about it. So in my classes, everyone gets lots of reminders and correction, so we all learn to use our bodies safely and remember to use right bits.
It's really easy not to notice when you are performing a movement incorrectly because you are concentrating so hard on just making the movement happen. That's when you need a chum to put you back on track, and that's why I always try to teach in mirrored rooms - so we can keep an eye on what our bodies are up to.
When we start out we are often terrified of the teacher correcting us, as that means we were doing it wrong! We like to think we can do everything we are taught right the first time without help and when someone corrects us we focus on this thought - we needed correcting because we were wrong.
As a teacher, I am super aware that a lot of my students probably don't really like it when I correct them, as when I was a newbie I didn't either. I wanted to think I could do everything perfectly the first time, and I was really embarrassed when I couldn't!
I think we automatically focus on the bad side of corrections - oh no, I'm not good enough! nooooo I did something wrong - rather than the good side - excellent, now I know exactly how to look fabulous doing that, look how much better I look in the mirror now!
I personally think this comes from an emphasis in our culture to always focus on the past and the rubbish stuff first - what a rubbish summer, look at all the rain, I couldn't do this move last week either, obviously I will never be able to do it - and not the future and the good stuff - man, these plants must be loving this rain. I am so excited about being able to zill and dance at the same time at some point!
I didn't used to like critique, but I hassle people for it now, because without input from other people who can see what you are doing, you will never grow as a dancer. Correction in classes and workshops doesn't bother me at all now. I'm so used to it, and I always ask my teachers to be extra mean to me. Performance correction is my thing. I need it, but I don't always like receiving it, and sometimes it takes me by surprise. For example, performing at a gig the other week, one of my performance/action buddies was in the audience, watching me, and when I came to see her after the show she goes, "Wanna know what you did wrong?" Gah! She made a couple of comments about facial expressions and I'll be honest, it's never very nice when you are being criticised, even by a friendly face, and I did not enjoy it. But since then, I have been hyper aware of what my face is up to when I dance, and I am fixing it so I will be a better performer. When I think about fixing my face now, it doesn't bother me - it feels like business, something to be aware of and to work on, emotionally neutral.
I guess criticism is a bit like getting an immunising injection. When it happens, it's not very pleasant, but the after affects are great and make sure you stay safe/look great/don't get malaria. You get used to it if you go abroad a lot, and needles push some people's buttons more than others.
In my classes, I critique and comment a lot because I can see how you can be a beautiful dancer, and I want to show you how. Dance isn't something we can learn on our own - we all need input on our learning journey, including me, you, Rachel Brice and every belly dance star in the world.
So when I critique you in class, it's not a big deal - I'm not singling you out. I will be correcting all your classmates at some point too. Everyone needs help becoming the best dancer they can be.