Particularly in programs which are essentially “participation certificates” rather than tested on demonstrated knowledge and ability, I feel it gives a false sense of accomplishment to the participant, and sends a confusing message to the public that one need only take a few days of workshops and suddenly you can be “officially certified” in a given style or skill. It diminishes both the idea of a certificate and the art/style itself, in my opinion. This is one way in which I have a lot of admiration for the Suhaila certification program. While it has never been of interest to me to pursue, I can see the tremendous value in the way it is structured, and the tangible feedback it provides the dancers–as a friend once said, it can be a roadmap for personal goal setting, and that’s fantastic.
I found my certification training with Gypsy Caravan, FatChance, and soon Jamila to have been incredibly valuable to not only my technique, knowledge, and teaching ability, but also gave me a tremendous sense of history and perspective. Like the proverbial elephant and the blind men, we’re all touching different parts of the dance, and are limited by the part we have in our immediate reach. By being exposed to other teachers’ and dancer’s experience/part of the elephant, I feel I have a better idea of the bigger picture and where I fit into it. If slapping a certificate on it encourages more people to pony up the cash and time to commit to these programs and grow as a result, I suppose in the end it’s a Good Thing. But I didn’t care one tiny bit if I held a piece of paper at the end of them, because what I got out of these experiences couldn’t be measured in that way.