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What it means to teach

August 5, 2009

So I had an interesting situation happen to me this past Sunday in a dance class that had me raise some questions about teaching not just dance wise but also in the BDSM community.

So I went to a beginner bellydance class at a gym on Sunday to just get some extra drill time in. I went because the teacher that was supposed to be teaching was someone I knew and liked and she had told me how she does her classes and I figured why not. I got there early and was stretching out and in walks another teacher. One I happen to NOT get along with. Now I’m sort of trapped. I can’t just leave. Well I could but it would be met with obviously future issues.  I explain to her I just started working on a particular dance format  and she immediately asks if I am testing for Level I certification in September. I explain I am getting over an injury and taking the rest of the year to build back up.  Okay so I have stated one, still a beginner and two, recovering from an injury.  It is then nothing but a barrage of,”hey Luna can you do this? Can you do this yet? Have you started this?”, which are of course all above my skill level and some are considered Level 2 and even Level 3 in the format she is pushing like a drug.  I left the class frustrated and angry and I have training under my belt. I can’t even imagine what the other four girls who had no training what so ever felt. One I could tell could barely speak English and none of them received any help in grasping what was being thrown at them.  I felt bad for them which just made my frustration boil more.

I thought about other teachers I have had be it as full time instructors or at dance events across the country. Some teachers do a great job at breaking down what they do, granted when a workshop has 40-80 dancers no one expects the teacher to go around and correct every dancer but some do. I remember being in DC holding starting dance position (feet together, knees bent, pelvic tucked, chest open, head balanced on it all with arms out and rounded in tribal stance) for 10 minutes while the teacher went around the room and fixed all 30 dancers. It hurt but it was well worth it I felt. Some teachers just go through the motions.  Some teachers I have had do stick in my head; Marta and Donna Mejia especially who take the time to connect and work with their students.

I also started analyzing this to my own teaching and presenting skils as well as other presenters I have seen at leather events.  I have seen some great presenters over the years and I have seen some god awful ones to but the key ingredient I feel needs to be there is how the topic rings for the teacher. If it is something that is a passion for them, something that rings true inside them you can see it and feel it.  If they are teaching so they can say “hey look at me I’m teaching at a large event!” or because they think it gives them some kind of “kink merit badge” you can see right through it.  Even people who have presented for the first time as long as they are passionate about what they speak on it rings true. I have tried very hard to make my classes accessable, educational and fun

Teaching is not an excuse to simply show off. Be you a dancer or a kink presenter.  You are passing down information. How you present it can literally change how someone views an art form or something that they are uncertain about. If you give a bad first impression then it can affect someone from there on out.

I wish more people would think before they decided to teach.

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