Line dancing involves performing a lot of repetition of movement and steps. During a class or event Line dancers and Line dance teachers can perform the same movement or type of movement many, many times. Therefore it makes sense when teaching to take this into consideration to make sure that these movements and steps are performed as safely as possible. Doing some CPD to learn more about what you can do, as a Line dance teacher, to help your dancers, and yourself, to enjoy dancing and the benefits it potentially can offer. Below are a couple of CPD areas that you might want to focus on.
Our feet are fantastic and they put up with all that we expect of them, often with little or no care. The 26 bones (plus two small bones under the base of the big toe), over 30 joints and all their many associated muscles and ligaments plus four arches give our feet their strength, flexibility and shock absorption capabilities. When our feet work well they are mobile and can sense and adapt to the surface we are moving or dancing on. But all too often our feet do not get the opportunity to be free to do their job as well as they should and instead of them being mobile and free they can feel uncomfortable, painful and stiff. Doing some regular, simple foot exercises can help to keep feet mobile and fit for purpose. You can encourage your Line dancers to do some foot exercises before and after dancing and you can do this yourself too. Foot exercises can be performed at home before and after dancing as well as at other times to keep the feet mobile, strong and flexible. Foot exercises can help to ease out tension in the feet so that they feel fabulously relaxed. So dancers and teachers can all benefit from doing these simple exercises. You can download a free foot exercises chart from the freebies section of my website decodanz.
Alignment of knees and feet
Making sure that the knees and feet are in good alignment with each other can reduce post dancing aches and pains as well as longer term issues caused by poor alignment of these joints. Learning some Safe Dance Practice (SDP) basics about joint alignment can help you, as the teacher, as well as your Line dancers, to dance stronger for longer. A useful thing to think about is good weight distribution when standing – use the basic foot triangle (weight distributed via three main points on the sole of the foot – under the centre of the heel, under the base of the big toe and the little toe). This triangle gives us a good solid base to stand on. Lots of Line dancers suffer from knee aches and pains at times and paying attention to the knees being in correct alignment with the feet is the most efficient way for these joints to move (when the knees bend they should go directly over the feet without twisting). When your dancers are performing Line dance shuffles forward you can observe them to check that when their knees are bent they are directly over the feet and not perhaps pointing inwards so that there is no support under the knees. Encouraging good basic alignment can help Line dancers to put less stress on their joints when they are dancing.
CPD in Line dancing
Line dancers benefit enormously from their teachers doing regular CPD. It is the norm in Line dancing to focus on dance content – learning another new dance. In many cases, new steps in these dances are borrowed from other dance genres that you might not be familiar with. And this makes it difficult for you as the teacher to teach these steps. This in turn, leads to dancers fudging steps because they are not clear about the basic technique. So you can see the way the downhill spiral goes.
Being clear about basic technique helps the dancer to reduce the risk of trips or falls. When Line dancers are clear about what their feet are doing they are less likely to trip over their own feet. When dancers are not clear about the basic technique of a step then they will often fudge it – perhaps stepping in the wrong direction or crossing one foot over the other by mistake. Simple mistakes like these can cause confusion for the dancer and risk. Helping dancers to be clear about basic movements and steps gives them a dance content foundation to build on. And this helps you as the teacher – when you teach someone who clearly understands a basic step it is easier to build extra components on.
By developing your teaching skills and understanding about how people learn you can help your dancers to learn better. As you know, Line dancers can be children, adolescents, adults and older adults and all of these groups of people benefit from being taught by people with understanding about basic life span development in relation to learning to dance. Where you have mixed ages and abilities in your classes you need to be able to vary your teaching to suit the diverse needs of your Line dancers.
Whether you are a full-time dance teachers or just teaching once-a-week, you can benefit from doing regular CPD. The general culture until now in Line dancing has been a reluctance to do CPD but I can dream that one day this will change and it will become the norm for Line dance teachers to do regular CPD that involves more than just learning another new dance.