It’s been quite the build up, but Safe Dance Practice Module 1 is complete… Exhale!
I had 8 students who attended the first of the 4-part course, which was a great number and allowed for discussion and sharing without feeling too crowded. For those who are interested in the sound of this course but aren’t quite sure what it entails here is a little recap of the experience and what we covered:
The diverse group of attendees made for a really interesting platform for sharing. Participants consisted of a mix of both professional dance artists who were also teaching dance, as well as those teaching other movement forms like pilates, yoga or fitness. We had an ex-professional dancer turned fitness instructor watching her 8 year old daughter in the competitive dance scene now. We had a ballet dance teacher with a phD in dance pedagogy, a dance studio owner, and many dance artists teaching ballet, contemporary, jazz, acro, heels dance… pilates, fitness and yoga!
The course began with a discussion on what safe dance practice was. I always like to start with this because although it’s the reason we’ve all gathered, it’s not always obvious what our goal is. We started with big picture questions, then narrowed down the conversation to what we could do as individual dance educators promoting safe dance practice in our own environment.
One of the topics that came up in this discussion was the the difficulty in wanting to protect and respect the traditions and history of different dance forms while also challenging some of these traditions. We have made so many scientific gains in recent years and what we know about training and safe practice has changed dramatically. There comes a point when we can’t be afraid to respectfully challenge what is being taught and begin to influence a new culture of dance.
Where is that line though? How can we do that respectfully? We agreed discussion and education were probably the places to start.
We then dove head first into an anatomy review. We discussed bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons; What they do, what they are made of and how they are involved in movement. For some participants this was a nice refresher, while others were excited to be learning new things. We discussed the mobility-stability continuum in the body and what joints need to create safe, efficient movement. This built the basis for our understanding on how the body functions holistically through movement.
The main focus of this Module 1, was anatomical and biomechanical principles of alignment, so after our anatomy refresher we jumped into a discussion on alignment. We broadly discussed the importance of alignment in dance movement (both static and dynamic), what ‘good’ alignment was, why it might be important and how we might go about achieving it.
We then went through a few postural analyses together as a group. As we went through a few examples of participants’ alignment, and started to recognize some common themes and alignment deviations to this population. We did this by learning how to find body landmarks in the body, and visually assessing how they stacked up in the line of gravity and where tension might be held in the body.
This fed nicely into the next section where we went through alignment deviations common to dancers. Some of these included anterior pelvic tilt, hyperextended knees, thoracic extension and excessive pronation/supination. As we made our way through the body, discussing alignment deviations joint by joint, we considered how each deviation was affecting the kinetic chain and how changes at one joint impact the rest of the body.
Lastly, we discussed how, as dance teachers, we could go about impacting dancers’ alignment. Changing alignment is unfortunately more complicated than just lengthening what is short and strengthening what is weak, although that can often be a good place to start. We discussed the neuromuscular re-patterning that is necessary to go about making changes in postural habits. How can we do that though? … We discussed different ways we can successfully re-pattern the neuromuscular system.
The afternoon consisted of a combination of lectures, discussions, movement and sharing.
One of the participants spoke about her experience:
“I'm a former dancer and now a yoga teacher. The concepts and information in Hannah's course are certainly transferable to safety in yoga teaching. Hannah is amazingly clear, articulate and engaging in her approach to sharing information. There was a great balance between theory and practice and she had a real life example to help explain any theoretical question that a participant posed. I definitely plan To take the other modules as well’.
Another participant said:
"Hannah is incredibly knowledgeable about the human body and how it relates to dance practice. The information is progressive, relevant, and fun to learn".
We are gearing up for Module 2 on May 7th, which will look at supplementary training and the nutrition and hydration needs of dancers. There is still time to register so be in touch if you are interested in attending!
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register!
Hi! I'm a dance science educator, Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer residing in Toronto. Here is what I have to say about all things health and movement related.