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The teaching journey described by VOU teacher and dancer – Sharleen Ali

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You might think you can’t teach, but maybe you can!  This is the story of VOU dancer and teacher Sharleen Ali’s experience of the dance teaching journey

Teaching kids – The good, the cute and the ugly

I was overwhelmed, when I stepped into my very first dance class that I was teaching. It wasn’t that I had not taught choreography before; it was that I was teaching children for the first time, EVER! I’m sure each teacher has their own experience and for me, it’s been an interesting roller coaster of emotion and inspiration.

Firstly, I’d like to share that my family and close friends know me as someone that is not good with kids, nor do I have much knowledge as to what to do with them. I’ve never been overly fond of having my own kids nor do I have that type of patience to take care of children. So when I told my close ones that I will be teaching kids dance, they all rolled around laughing and kept asking, how I would or if I would manage. To which my response was “I do not know”.

To this day, walking into the studio to teach my kids classes, I literally walk into an array of laughter, screams and lots and lots of questions! It’s never a dull day, just always a loud one. However, if you as a teacher aren’t prepared for a class, things can quickly make a U-turn and your day can go from fantastic to stressful in 0.5 seconds.

Preparing for each class prior is very important. The warm up, floor exercises, technique exercises, choreography and all the music that go with each of these is recommended to be structured well before you enter your class. When teaching kids, a few games along the way are always a handy tool. However, games aren’t the only variable; your attitude towards the students helps them become more comfortable and more trusting towards you. Therefore, it’s essential to keep a balance between being friendly and being strict towards your students.

However, it’s not that with the above preparation you are going to have a guaranteed trouble free class, no. Some days, they really do not listen and some days, they’re the calmest souls around. Each class is unpredictable. I’ve had many classes where I felt really stressed out, especially when you’re trying to talk but they’re all talking louder than you. The best way I found to deal with this, was through something my mentor told me. She told me to stop whatever I was doing, and enforce them to be quiet, and keep doing this until you get every ones attention; then from there talk to them clearly but firmly. This works wonders, and works every time. As I grow as a teacher, I learn more tips and tricks along the way to make each class happier, fun and filled with loads of dance.

Watching students absorb the information that I’m giving them has to be the most rewarding aspect for me. I love teaching dance solely because of this reason. I love to share my knowledge of dance, and when I see a responsive student or a responsive class, it brings the biggest smile to my face and in all honesty, every time I see this happening in class, it rids all the stress. I know this is the answer to all the hows and whys from my close ones. It is because of this my patience increases and I’m able to teach and take care of children.

Teaching is always going to be a part of who I am. I surprisingly love teaching kids and no matter the screams and constant questions, I always end up being greatly satisfied by it. It certainly is an ongoing roller coaster ride. And it’s a ride that I do not want to put a stop to as yet.

Sharleen Ali

September 2015

Sharleen is the winner of Fiji’s Dancing Superstar, the national televised dance competition that took the nation by storm. She and her VOU alumni partner John Peckham took the stage in the various genres of dance to take home the title and the $10,000 prize money.

However Sharleen’s life long dance journey had started long before this. Sharleen started dancing in school where the very strict and graceful Mrs. Jennifer Liew trained her in Pacific Dance. Here she also started to learn the basics of choreography, assisting in school productions and Tadra Kahani. Since then Sharleen has had training in Pacific Dance and Bollywood and has become very fond of Contemporary Dance and has dance experience in Jazz, Hip Hop and Ballet.

Sharleen joined VOU in October 2010 where her dream of dancing professionally came true. Since she joined VOU, Sharleen has visited and toured many countries including New Zealand, Australia, China and the Solomon Islands. Sharleen choreographed a duet with fellow VOU alumni Patricia Naisara titled “Na lakolako” that was toured to Malaysia as a part of the World Dance Alliance Festival in Kuala Lumpur.

Sharleen was part of the initiative to help start the VOU school, and she still actively teaches students from the age of 3 years to adults.

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