teaching ATS

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  • #73667

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Annie on tribe.net.Ive been teaching bellydance for about 3 years now. Mostly fusion, but a bit of Orientale, too.br/About three years ago (just as I was getting started teaching) I feel madly in love with ATS. I didnt know enough to teach it, however, so in time I took GS and TT. I only taught ATS to the dancers I was already working with. We knew each other fairly well and they were patient with me while I struggled to learn to teach ATS.br/They picked it up fairly quickly and weve been dancing together (ATS) for almost two years now.br/br/Now, I have a problem. I started offering Level I classes. A 6-week long session to get new dancers started in ATS. The problem is this: I cannot keep students. I KNOW this style is not for everyone and I expected to lose students; it happens in every class. But, right now my drop-out rate for ATS is probably around 98%. With other classes, I dont have any problems. I think my students genuinely enjoy classes and always seem excited to be there.br/br/ I cannot keep new students interested in ATS Level I. My upper Level ATS students are like me -- falling more and more in love with it everyday. I have taught a workshop (out-of-town) on ATS Duets and I really believe it went well.br/I dont think Im a bad teacher and I feel like Im enthusiastic in class. br/I had hoped to eventually be an exclusively ATS studio. Really and truly thats where I want to focus. But my complete failure in keeping Level I students is frustrating. I keep the other classes going so I can pay studio rent.br/br/My question is this: How do you teach your Level I class? And do you feel like you can cover the standard Level I curriculum in 6-weeks time? (I often feel like maybe Im rushing my students.)br/What do you do to keep classes fun for the students? And most of them will not even consider attempting to lead. I wonder about not introducing the lead/follow "scary stuff until much later. They completely freak out about zills, too. (I do remember kind-of balking at the idea that I had to play zills, but now I LOVE them.)br/br/Any ideas for fun and exciting Level I classes?

    #85523

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Jennifer on tribe.net.Hi Annie!br/br/Have you thought about asking your students why they havent stuck with the class? Or, have any of them moved into your classes that are tribal fusion or orientale instead? If you have their email addresses, you could always send out a general survey with questions about the time and location, and a few other things, and then leave an open space for comments about what they liked and didnt like about the class. You dont have to frame the survey as a "Why didnt you come back" type of thing - just general feedback to make your classes the best they can be.

    #85524

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Melissa on tribe.net.i dont dance ATS but think its beautiful and would love to take classes, just not financially able yet. I have taken cabaret classes and the teacher insisted that as we learn the moves we also learn to hold and play zills at the same time. I remember thinking OMG, how can I learn to play the zill rhythm as well as do the moves, I didnt think my brain could function like that. Kinda like the rub your tummy and pat your head or walking and chewing gum. LOL! I love the zills and the teacher took about 15 minutes of class to introduce us to them, a few of the basic patterns and we sat on the floor in a circle and practiced RLR RLR and then she had us hold out our arms and repeat that pattern. br/br/I guess because I started learning with zills, adding the moves, even though scary, was easier than if I already knew the moves and added zills at a later date. My teacher said that adding zills later in dance can be harder for a dancer than learning to play them from the start. Perhaps some of your students are experiencing this and you may need to take them back to basics for a few short classes to show them that they can play and dance at the same time. Maybe you should poll the students who left your classes as to what may have prompted them to leave. br/br/I hope this helps some.

    #85525

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Jaki on tribe.net.Hi Annie,br/br/You are definately not alone, my dear. I have an absolutely wonderful group of Level II and Level II dancers, but my Level I drop rate is staggering. I cant keep them long enough to join Level II for a variety of reasons. You hit the nail on the head with one of your statements...this style is not for everyone. From my experiences, fusion and cabaret styles tend to have a more lose curriculum which can be more appealing to a wider group of dancers. ATS takes a level of commitment that many adults just cannot or do not want to give. There are so many parts of ATS that can scare someone away (said tongue in cheek). :)br/br/One thing I do, which may be different than the FCBD curriculum, is to introduce the zills very slowly (the zills seem to be the most intimidating part, aside from the leading). On week 3, we sit on the ground and play with them. Week 4 – I have them move their arms and zill and we walk in a circle and play them (the last 15 minutes of class or so). On week 5 and 6, we do the arms and walking in a circle thing and then I let the students choose to try zilling while they are actually dancing, if it’s their first session. By their second session of Level I (if they need it), I don’t let them choose….but by then, they are usually comfortable enough to start playing while dancing.br/br/To me, the Level I setup, is a guideline....not a rule book. Ive often modified the class agenda "on the fly" to keep pace with how the students are really doing. Slow down or speed up if you need to based on the overall group dynamic. br/br/Good luck to you! <3

    #85526

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Amanda on tribe.net.Ive been doing ATS and ITS for ... um about 4 years on and off (the off was not my choice and I was pretty moody untill I could start again, but will I was traveling and working wherever I could I just couldnt get to a class!) and I have been in love with it from the day I started. I love the posture of it, and how they looked so regal and queenly and grounded and stronge. But like you said it is not for everyone. I took along a few friends over time, and one has stuck with it, the others left pretty quickly. br/br/As for the Zilling.. I am rubbish at zills. I have learnt with 2 different teachers in different countrys and um... im pretty scard of zills! I see how starting to zill as soon as you start to dance would be a help, but at the same time I think it would put some people off. If you do it right from the go, its already in your head and you learn it with the moves and it wouldnt be such a big deal later on, because learning if after you have been dancing for a year or so is like learning to dance all over again in a way.br/But at the same time, I dont think I would have been able to learn Zill and ATS right at the start at the same time.... Hmmm... I need to think about this!br/br/As for making it more fun, and getting people to stay? I guess it really depends on the people you are teaching and who is in the class with them. I know that when I first started I really liked all of the other girls learning and it was great getting to know them. My teacher always had a improve jam to one song at the start before or warm up (to get us warmed up a bit and then we would streach and get into the class and drilling moves) and that was my favourit bit. br/Normally she would teach us a move or two in a class and we would drill it and drill it and then she would put on music and we would follow her, and then break us into 2s or 3s to take turns leading and following and working on it between us, and then we would have one more Jam at the end.br/The jam at the start and the end was my favouit part. But having said that, the one friend who I took along (that suck with it) *hated* the jam, and hated the thought of having to lead and it very nearly put her off coming all together. I always looked forwards to it, and maybe that is one of the things that hooked me. It was damn scarey to start with, and at the start I didnt like to lead and would try and hide behind one of the girls that had been doing it for longer than me, but then it got to the point where I loved leading and throwing in new moves and I would always be itching to get out the front.br/It really does depend on who you are I think.br/br/One other thing that really helped was that we where all pretty social with it. Often after class we would go out for a drink or a coffee and sometimes somewhere we could dance as well.br/Often it was the teachers idea and she would come with us, or we would do it on our own. One important thing if you are going to do that though is to make sure that *everyone* is invited and no-one feels excluded.br/br/Mmm that is just a point of view from a student! I dont know if it helped at all, but maybe it gave you some ideas.br/Good luck!

    #85527

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Wendy on tribe.net.Same experience for me. br/br/Ive been teaching my own class for 3 years now, and out of that very first 6 week session, I have 1 student who has stayed the whole time. Ive had a few other people who started shortly after who have become dedicated L2 dancers, plus a couple former FC students who have come back to dancing. br/br/Out of 3 years of weekly classes of 3 to 14 people, I have 5 people who have really stuck with it.

    #85528

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Hollie S on tribe.net.Thank you ladies for your humbliness and honesty. As a newer ATS teacher, It is good to see even the best of you have a huge drop out ratio. I taught fusion for 2 1/2 years before ATS and my drop out rate was never this high and usually due to life changes. I tend to see the same pattern as most of you with drop out rate either they dont like the style, afraid of ziling, too strict or recently told my standards were too high because I refuse to take gigs for all men groups lol. I recently had my troupe divide in half ,due to half the girls loved ATS and the other missed the freedom of fusion dance. I feel ATS is more serious style of dance and not for the weak hearted. I see alot of very strong, educated, liberal, independent women in ATS. I know it is not for everyone and have recently come to that conclusion. As for me as well as teaching ATS, I love it and I hope out of everyone who passes through my class at least every so often someone will fall madly in love with ATS as much as I do and stay. I recently discovered if people stay in class for the wrong reasons they will become negative students and bring the whole class down.

    #85529

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Wendy on tribe.net."I recently discovered if people stay in class for the wrong reasons they will become negative students and bring the whole class down."br/br/So true. Such a hard thing to remedy. And its not all that easy to fix.

    #85530

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Ursel on tribe.net.Ive made similar experiences, too. Im teaching an ITS class thats leaning towards ATS (havent had a chance to do GS and TT yet, hope to do so someday), and yes, I, too, have a rather huge drop out rate. br/As most of my students are entirely new to bellydance, Ive found that most of those find it hard to keep up with a strict curriculum. They feel overwhelmed by having to pay attentzion to so many things at once (posture, movement, zills, and following what the teacher is doing), they get frustrated and leave. But as I cant afford losing too many students (I teach at a community center, and theres a minimum class size of 6-8 people, and thats already the centers "good will" size), I had to compromise. So with a group of entirely new students I slowed down the curriculum considerably, and really allowed them to take their time, and played things by ear rather than by the book (I still stuck with my curriculum as for what I wanted to teach, and in which order, but I allowed more time for everything). That helped some.br/Once the class was getting more mixed (some more experienced students, some new), I could speed things up some, because the more experienced students now dared to lead, which gave the new ones some feeling of security (like "they got it, so I can learn it, too"). That my current group of students tends to socialize a lot helps, too.br/As for the zillling, I keep telling my students how I had to struggle myself with zills, and how I had thought of myself as a hopeless case for many years, and I also keep telling them to be patient with themselves, that Rome wasnt built in a day. That seems to encourage them. Actually, nowadays two of them are already better zillers than I am ... *blush*

    #85531

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Jasmine on tribe.net.Im not claiming any personal teaching experience here, but I can tell you from the perspective of someone observing the formation of a brand new troupe that it takes a good long while to find students who stick with it. It seems like sometimes you have to stumble upon people who have a pre-existing knowledge of and desire to learn ATS, because those will be the first folks who stick with it. People who arent exposed to ATS before taking a class...its hit-and-miss with those students. But it will all even out. Dont get discouraged! Think of how many thousands of little girls take ballet when theyre young and how many end up becoming serious ballerinas. Theres a natural filtering process that happens in dance, and although it makes classes smaller, it weeds out the people who arent as serious and would bring down other more enthusiastic students.br/br/The things my troupe director did with beginning classes that really made it engaging for me:br/br/-- First off, she recently switched the classes from a 6 week session to an 8 week session. When I took the Level I, she was cramming a LOT of moves into every class, and I think everyone agrees that while we liked getting to the prettier moves more quickly, it wasnt worth the sacrifice in technique. With the new 8-week format, she can bring it down to just one or two fast moves plus one or two slow moves every week, and she has more time to go through their anatomy and proper execution. Not rushing new students is key to not overloading their senses.br/br/-- When she expected us to lead, she would warn us that a leading drill was coming up and told us to pick a move or two we already knew up to this point so we wouldnt get to the leader position and freeze up. Thinking about it beforehand made us less nervous, and only being expected to do one or two moves before switching out gave us a sense of accomplishment without forcing us beyond our comfort zone. We didnt begin leading until maybe the third or fourth week of classes.br/br/-- Zils are tricky animals. Each teacher has a different way of introducing them. My teacher decided to wait until the intermediate level because the basic moves were in our muscle memory so we didnt have to think about them quite as much and we could put moves on "auto-pilot" while zilling. To each her own, though. If the zils are consistently scaring people away, I say introduce them a little later once people are more confident in their abilities. Maybe dedicate a single class to understanding the zils, matching them to music, and exploring the different rhythms so that people feel comfortable combining them with movement. Have people play the RLR pattern while leading them through different arm variations, but no actual moves. Let them get comfortable with playing the zils in a somewhat non-stationary way before asking them to execute steps and combinations along with it.br/br/-- We didnt do this in my class, but I feel like it would be a good way to encourage people. If a couple performance troupe members could come to that first class and dance for the students using only the moves and steps theyll be learning during the beginning level course, I think that would be really cool. It shows them that yes, it gets more complicated later, but look how much dancing you can do just after this one session! It will get people excited to see the session through to its end and see whats beyond those moves.

    #85532

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Wendy on tribe.net." It seems like sometimes you have to stumble upon people who have a pre-existing knowledge of and desire to learn ATS, because those will be the first folks who stick with it. People who arent exposed to ATS before taking a class...its hit-and-miss with those students. "br/br/Actually, my most loyal and best students had no idea what ATS was when they started taking classes. The ones who already knew what it was/had previously danced it, were problematic, because they had this idea that because they already knew about it, they didnt have to work as hard.

    #85533

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Valizan on tribe.net.I have the same kind of drop out levels happening. br/br/My base studio has a big open house before each seasonal session. I usually get about 30 people to come to my open house session. Of that, 10 sign up for the class. And of that 10, 3 stay past the first session.br/br/I have stopped fretting when I see this, and heres my thoughts on why:br/br/1. They dont actually like it. They may have tried it out, but really, it isnt their thing. Thats fine.br/br/2. Discipline. I think this is the biggest thing. ATS is a discipline that demands your attention. Unlike a Cabaret bellydance class where the onus is very much on the teacher to teach and write you a choreography to follow, in ATS the onus is on the student to actually learn the moves, and remember the moves, and there is no pre-written choreography for them to follow. ATS is, in a sense, too hard for them to deal with unless they truly commit themselves to it. It is great if you are a dancer type. But if youre just dabbling in dance, the committment isnt there and wont be there. br/br/3. Fear of failure and letting other people down. In other ME forms, you are mostly soloing to pre-set choreography. In ATS you have to depend on other people, and people dont want to do it. They fear giving a wrong cue or reading a cue wrong. br/br/4. Real life. It happens. In my area, at least... YMMV... people dont have the money to commit to classes. Or they have elderly parents or children to whom they have to devote their little spare time. Or they just plain have to work. This is also why they dont practice stuff at home. br/br/5. Zilling. Yes, I also get "ewww... I hate them..." from people who havent even played them yet. I introduce them in week 4 and then I dont press for people wear them until Intermediate. I also explain the idea that once you get used to them, youll love em. Results have been mixed there too, but it goes back to #2. Discipline.

    #85534

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Kylie A on tribe.net.Thanks everyone for posting. br/Valizan, I have started teaching ATS in a remote country area in Australia a little over a year ago and I have pondered similar thoughts at various times. Thanks for your thoughts.

    #85535

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Alicia on tribe.net.Annie, Level 1 is HARD! When I occasionally do level 1 classes to brush up on stuff, I am always really surprised by just how physically and mentally exhausting it is. I am not at all surprised that there is a big drop out rate. If you found out that all the students who were dropping out of your classes were going over to another ATS teacher, you would have a problem. But if they are dropping out because it isnt for them/ they arent Rachel Brice after 6 lessons/ they only came because their friend was doing it/ they cant afford it/ they have lectures on that night this term/ their shifts at work have changed/ they cant get a baby sitter etc etc etc it isnt anything wrong with the classes. Take heart from the students who DO stay and progress!

    #85536

    Anonymous

    Originally posted by Wendy on tribe.net.I agree that discipline is a huge part of it. You cant really check out and still be successful at ATS. It demands being present at every moment. br/br/Being in the Bay Area, we are competing with SO many styles and teachers, and a lot of students who arent drawn to ATS in particular are constantly taking classes with many other teachers. br/br/Also, a lot of times people come in focused on performing, instead of learning to dance, and we lose them because they dont get to get up on stage early enough. br/br/And yes, life does get in the way. School, kids, work, money, time. br/br/Ive not lost students because of zills, that I know of. br/br/I think ultimately, it takes the kind of person who really has a desire to master something, and to put in the work to do so. Thats the kind of person who sticks around in ATS classes.

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