“We dance to show who we are, not who we should be”
Even as a child, I always danced for my own pleasure. I stick to this philosophy through all my classes. In my eyes, it is also crucial to dance ‘in the earnest spirit’ To be able to show who you are through your dancing, you should go on a quest for your true identity, your deepest self.
I am convinced technique is not enough. You have to learn to know yourself, to explore and discover your body. But there is more: Our body exists in an alternate and definite time frame, that originates as much from the perception we have of ourselves as from the perception others have of us. As a teacher, I like to assist others in their own universe, by encouraging them to accept themselves and not try to be an imaginary person that doesn’t exist. I always try to make the best of my years of experience in dance centres and psychiatric institutions, of the books I read, of my personal researches and of a constant transversal thinking process.
Of course, dance has a true social, cultural and therapeutic role, but that is not all. Ballet allows me to handle my teaching depending on the pupil, the motor abilities, the affective and interpersonal skills as well as on creativity. All these concepts are found in dance therapy. Each dance style brings forth one particular aspect: flamenco develops foothold, stance, bearing and self-confidence, Indian (Bollywood) dance promotes emotion discovery and identification, while belly dancing connects us to femininity and the sacred. Last but not least, street dance foster team work, a very rewarding aspect in a society that promotes the values of individualism. The design of my lessons is based on all this.
Teaching to children is a whole adventure. When I started, I asked myself the right questions: what made me tick when I was a child? What did I expect from my dance lessons? What bored me? I kept all these questions in mind as I learnt and observed. I took tons of notes, and as for my the choreographies, I extracted the best of each discipline: the ballet structure, the emotional discovery of Bollywood and flamenco dancing, as well as the rich musical possibilities and the relationship to the body of belly dancing. Not to forget the cultural aspect through very simple things. I then defined goals thanks to my work in dance therapy. The music proposed to my pupils comes from all over the world, as breaking down barriers and prejudice from a very early age is one of my primary goals. That’s why when you look at one of my children lessons, you see a moment of pleasure and fun with a touch of craziness and surprise. Each child moves in a space that is rich, free, where he or she can propose and discover new things.
For the (future) professional dancers, I developed master classes, which we could also name ‘workshops’, where letting go, creating and discovering are the key. I invite my trainees to discover and study themselves, to create, to overcome prejudice and confusion through topics such as musicality, improvisation, stage expression, body language and emotions. I do this more directly than in my amateur lessons, where these notions are only suggested.Our modules count ten 90 minutes lessons. As a conclusion to each module, I invite an artist for a practical performance linked to the topic.We recently decided to open the final lesson of the module to the public, so as to have an interaction with the people watching.
I have been managing Arabesque dancing school and training future teachers with these values in mind for more than 15 years now. Discover a school unlike any others:
Book project « Approach and methodology » : teaching dance to children by Rakiya.
For a few years, I have been working on the writing of a practical manual that will explain how I teach to children.