Four Stages of Belly Dancer Evolution Part 1

I teach writing at a state college in Vermont. I mostly teach first-year English Composition. Students learn how to compose a college paper—how to find something to say, and how to back up their points with evidence. Students evolve fairly consistently through several stages of intellectual development as they learn these skills. That’s the point of a college education—you learn how to think. But its not all peaches and cream. Not everyone wants to do this, and people stay in various stages.

I see many belly dancers in these stages


In the field of intellectual development (ID), the first stage is Dualism, aka Received Knowledge. Students receive information from their teachers. There is a clear Right and Wrong, and teachers are there to give the Right answers. These folks are rule followers. They like to know the difference between right and wrong so they can do the Right Thing. There are a lot of these folks in Belly Dance. We call them…


The Dance Police

The Dance Police are always right, always telling us what we did wrong, or how wrong our dance is, or how we are Not Good Enough, because it take a lifetime to be good enough and they are the gatekeepers. These are the folks who never think we are ready for whatever—the advanced class, teaching, etc.

Of course, some things are right or wrong, and sometimes we are not ready, but most things are pretty gray. There are a lot of opinions, and people do things many different ways, yet still manage to make exquisite art that is well-within the parameters of Oriental dance.

As folks get past this sense of iron-bound Right or Wrong, they start to realize that there are in fact a lot of different ideas out there.
This stage is called Multiplicity, aka Subjective Knowledge. People in this stagedecide that if it is all a matter of opinion, then theirs is as good as any. They are just going to go their merry way and do what they please. We have a lot of these in belly dance, too. Introducing…


The Six-Week Wonder

These folks take some classes (or even a lot of classes), have it all figured out, and consider themselves experts who answer to no one. They often perform or teach early on. They are pleased with themselves and defend their turf adamantly. They seriously irritate the Dance Police and pretty much everyone else with their sense of entitlement.

In many cases this is a short stage as folks continue to learn and grow. But other folks just stay here. They ignore, mock, or gaslight anything that challenges their world view. Not surprisingly, their dance rarely evolves, but hey, they are satisfied. For example of both of the above, just read any Facebook conversation on Cultural Appropriation, Fusion, etc. They abound on both sides of the issues.


The folks who push on from here desire a wider perspective. They often find such a wealth of material and information that it can get overwhelming. This stage is called Relativism, or Procedural Knowledge.

These folks have done their homework. They have learned an amazing amount. The see the multiplicity of approaches—but they also see that it is all relative—some approaches are more well-informed than others. We’ll look more closely at this (and the fourth stage, Commitment in Relativism), in our next newsletter.



PS want to level up your evolutionary stage
I’ve got a local live workshop coming up and a series of live online classes. Do come join us! They will be fun, sociable, and inspiring!

Live LOCAL Classes this fall:
This fall, I’ll teach some local classes at the Raq-On Dance Studio in White River Junction VT.
It will be a fun class with a lot of variety–a focus topic, technique, a combination, some follow-me, free improv, and whatever comes into my head at the time.

Live ONLINE class series
This new series of live online dance classes will be reasonably priced, with drop-in and session rates.

I’m thinking each class will be about an hour, delivered via (low bandwidth and easy to use). They will include a brief warmup, a focus topic with technique, a combination, some follow-me dance, some free improv, and whatever comes into my head at the time, lol. Each week will be something new.

Folks can join live or view the class recording. Each recording will be available for a week when it will be replaced by the next class. When I am traveling, there may be no live class; in that case, I will replace the current class with archive classes so there is something newish to enjoy (these will be free for session-level members and not count towards their sessions).

I have a few technical things to refine, so this will start in June.

When to schedule the live class? A weekday, like Tues, Weds, or Thurs, is preferable as I am more likely to be at home, where I am set up for video. For myself, afternoon is good (like 1 or 2pm Eastern time), but I’m guessing for most folks, evening is better. Still, we have a variety of time zones in the world…

For the moment, I’m curious to know who is interested—who would like join live (can ask questions and get feedback), and who would prefer a recording, so I have a better idea of when to schedule.

What would you prefer?
What sorts of things would you like to see in a weekly class?

THANK YOU for joining me!


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