Bellydance lessons for children
Sorahia, a professional dancer and well-known Bellydance teacher in the region of Besançon, shares with us the richness and peculiarities of Oriental dance classes for children. Courses which have developed more and more over the years due to growing demand, and require a particular and really adapted learning.
What attracts you in teaching children?
I like teaching a lot, I like pedagogy and I think that with children, there are fun ways to work. I like the children's classes’ freshness and dynamics. And since I have my own kids, I’ve seen things differently.
What are the particularities of each age group (6-8 years old, and 9-12 years old)?
The 6 to 8-year-old bellydance lesson is a course where learning is fun with games and exercises. At this age, concentration is not the same as in a teenager or adult bellydance class and you must constantly stimulate the group with dance games, improvisation, and downtime. We learn how to dance but also jump, run, count, discover the tempo.
With the 9 to 12-year-old lesson, I stick to learning while having fun but the exercises are closer to an adult course than a kid’s one. There are rhythmic exercises, memorization, games with a partner, and always the learning of short choreographies.
How are children’s lessons organized and what are the differences with an adult bellydance course?
After welcoming the children, we warm up in a circle then I start my lesson.
In my kids’ bellydance lessons, there’s always a moment with games, where the exercises are adapted to the children’s age, and with lots of innovation.
I especially take the games my son uses at school and adapt them to dancing. For example, to work on a saïdi rhythm I use hopscotch:
- Hop is a « tak »
- Feet together a « doum »
Students jump feet together hop, feet together feet together hop which gives the rhythm. « doum tak », « doum doum tak »
They love it and they learn the rhythm very fast!
I created this way of working when my son was playing hopscotch. I also wanted to jump and naturally I started to give rhythm to my jumps, thanks to my job everything I do, I do it in « doum » or in « tak ».
For example, this is the kind of exercises I’d never do with adults.
What are your secrets to catch children's attention and get them to understand the technique?
Involvement and games. I like to make teams, pairs. Children who dance alone at the beginning do not feel comfortable so I put them in teams of 2 or 3. There is the "group" side which makes the child feel like is not alone in the exercise. It's also more fun.
Children also like to participate when there is an objective or a goal, rules of the game. With each exercise, I explain the rules like for a game. « This is what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, and why».
Up to now, I have always had children who participated so I would say that I found the right way to teach my bellydance dance lesson.
What are your favorite accessories for young dancers?
How do you see the future generation?
I always find impressive to see 7-8 years old dancing like women with the attitudes and poses onstage, and seeing that some of them have already mastered all styles. This is not what I teach in my bellydance classes, I learn more towards leisure than competition and performance.
The culture plays a big role in this. In some countries, they start very young, train hours and dance like adults, attend competitions and stage performances very young but for example we do not find that among Egyptians.
They are "stars in the making". I think most of them will be professional bellydancers later. After, my fear is that it turns into ongoing competition.
As a kid, who was your Bellydance « idol »?
I was in love with Samia Gamal in Ali baba. The film was broadcasted every year and I was waiting for this scene to see her dancing, like in a dream! At this time, no internet, the only way to see some bellydancing was in old movies...
Can you tell us about your Oriental dance path starting from your beginnings to today as a well-known dancer and teacher?
I started bellydancing very young and I hid this passion for a long time. I always knew I only wanted to do this! Dancing!
When I earned a salary, I went to dance workshops, everywhere I could; this passion kept growing and growing. It was very hard to choose this path; I had to fight against all odds to impose this dance in my life.
I arrived in a region where it wasn’t present, so I decided to try to do something about it... it was difficult at first, but I never gave up, I believed in myself and I was the only one.
I started my bellydance lessons in 2006 with 3 people, 5, then 10 then I joined a dance school and I was able to promote Bellydancing the same way as other disciplines; it was beneficial and the start of a great success, there were more and more students.
At the same time I was a professional bellydancer so performing every weekend. I performed thousands of times, I sometimes danced up to three times the same evening every weekend for 5 years. I danced with the « elbiach » band every weekend for 2 years, an incredible live dance experience on classics.
On a daily basis, I kept on training by going to workshops in France and abroad to feed my dance and mind with almost all the Egyptian dancers and many French, German, and Swiss teachers. I also took lessons with a fitness teacher to have a good anatomical training.
I created an amateur students company to promote Oriental dance in the region, company which existed for more than 12 years!
Then, I worked in different schools, dancing on weekends and being invited by various schools and associations to come and teach workshops in surrounding areas.
Today, I make more than one hundred people dance weekly we are far from the 3 students from earlier so it’s a beautiful evolution and personal challenge.
I'm pleased to be here 14 years later and proud of everything I've done here. Oriental dancing was at a standstill when I arrived in Besançon, it is now a very trendy discipline.
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