Teaching dance skills

This book is one of my favourite books about teaching dance.

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Where the movement begins

If you studied ballet as a young child do you remember being taught the positions of the feet? Do you recall begin told to put the heels together and turn the toes out? Many of us remember this and today many children will still be learning this way. We can help children to understand more about where movement begins right from the start by creating an awareness of where movement begins and what to focus on. So when teaching say, first position, we can focus on rotating the legs outwards in the hip joints (turning out) rather than focusing on the feet.

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Hypermobile joints – challenges for dance teachers

Hypermobile is how we describe the joints of people who, without any training have naturally, more (hyper) movement (mobility) in their joints than usual. Some call it being double jointed. The hypermobility comes from ligaments (the tough ban of connective tissue that links bones together across a joint) being too lax or stretchy. This means that they cannot stabilise the joints the way ligaments should. And an important point for teachers to consider is that dancers with hyper mobile joints cannot sense when they are at the end of their joint range. This results in a knee joint when straightened going beyond straight and produces what we refer to as swayback knees. With careful training a dancer can learn to avoid pushing the knees back by pulling up the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thighs and engaging the leg muscles to support and align the knees so that the legs appear straight – although they won’t feel straight to the dancer.

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Pilates Anatomy – fab new book

I already have (and love) Karen Clippenger’s excellent book Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology.  So when I saw that she had joined forces with Rael Isacowitz (of Pilates Your complete guide to mat work and apparatus exercises, fame – another great book, and yes, I have it too) I thought I must get it.  It arrived and I love it.  It is full of clear explanations and illustrations.

The anatomy and alignment information in this book is also very useful for dance teachers whether you teach Pilates Mat or not.  If you do Pilates Mat for yourself or as an instructor then you will love the clarity of presentation of the exercises..  Execution of the exercise is given together with the targeted and accompanying muscles.  Technique cues and exercise notes help to give the reader a more in-depth understanding of the exercise.  Some exercise variations are also given.  I like the way the discussions and reasons give you something to connect your learning to.  So much useful information in one little book.

I was just about to write this post when an email arrived all about Pilates on Tour – London 2012.  Balanced Body are usually at the IADMS conferences and they make such lovely Pilates equipment so I am always interested in what they are doing.  And when I read the facility list for the workshop sessions and noticed that Karen Clippenger is teaching at the conference I thought what a great opportunity.  So I am all signed up to attend one of her sessions on rotator cuff and shoulder impingement.  Lots of other great sessions at the conference too but as always choices have to be made.  I know when I attend the ones I have chosen (I am sure they will be wonderful) I will also be curious about the sessions I am missing.  It is always like this at conferences – so much good stuff goes on and we can only be in one place at a time.

So I am looking forward to my workshop with one of the authors of this book.  I will report back in due course.  In the meantime Pilates Anatomy is a very welcome addition to my library of books.

Books Books Books!

I love books as my bulging bookshelves demonstrate.  In recent years there has been so many books published relating to aspects of dance teaching practice that it is impossible to keep up with them all.  But this is exciting because it means that there are lots of people out there who care enough about dance, dancers and everyone involved with dancers, to share their amazing body of knowledge by writing about it.

I will share aspects of my books with you in this blog – old ones that belonged to my late mother (also a dance teacher), new ones that I discover and my favourite dance-related books that I always go back to time and time again.  The ones that are full of post-its marking a page that has something worth returning to.  My very favourite books have a rainbow of multi-coloured tags draping the long side of the pages.  I write a clue on some of them as to what item of interest I will find on the page.  But others I leave to curiosity – I need to open the page to discover what made me tag the page before.  I have discovered lots of fascinating things through my curiosity method – but believe me, if you are in a hurry then do not be tempted to dive into the curiosity pages.  If you do you may do what I do – spend hours happily exploring pages full of wonderfully interesting things that are probably completely, off-topic for what I am looking for at that time – you have been warned!