“Receiving a correction from your teacher is the highest compliment you could ever hope for.”
I don’t remember which teacher told me this, but the day I heard it, my dance practice was changed forever. Teachers don’t give corrections to just anyone, they give corrections to those dancers they find most promising. And they don’t give those dancers corrections because they think they can do it, but because they already know they can do it. Teachers aren’t playing around with fate, they’re making a solid investment in your dancing every time you receive a personalized correction. So why do I see so many dancers walking away from these precious compliments rolling their eyes or brushing them off?
Every teacher has his or her own correction style, and sometimes it takes some getting used to. I once had a teacher tell me my dancing resembled an “overripe plum.” I never really understood what she meant by that one, but I didn’t walk away from her comment angry. At most I was exasperated, because I wished she’d speak a little plainer, but to this day, whenever I choreograph, I ask myself whether my movement phrases make me look like overripe fruit.
Anyone who has taught can tell you that half of the things a teacher wants to say go unsaid. There simply isn’t enough time in a class nor will the students be able to process all the corrections all at once. As a teacher, you have to find the opportune moment to give a personal or group correction, and as a student, you have to be grateful when a teacher finds that moment just for you. Almost one hundred percent of the time, teachers want their students to grow. They aren’t getting on your case just to annoy or frustrate you. Every correction is an opportunity and a testament to your teacher’s faith in you. Treat it as such!
I’ve met a lot of bellydancers who turn off their ears after four or five years of training. In their eyes, after a few paid gigs and successful public performances, they’re “experienced.” What could a teacher possibly say that they haven’t heard before? But the day you stop taking corrections is the day you cease to be a dancer. Artists are always perfecting their art, and dancers are no different. If you think you’ve got nowhere else to go or that you can look down your nose at those “novice” dancers, you might as well pack up your costumes and put them in storage.
Corrections are the nectar of a healthy dance practice, and so, I’m announcing my first Bellyflop: thinking you’re above correction. Don’t let it happen to you!