Research vs Tradition
All dance genres have their own way of doing things. Each style has its own kind of warm up, exercises and steps or movements that have been used for many many years to combine to make routines and performances. And within that every dance teacher has their teaching style, more often than not, a very similar style to the way they themselves were taught, language, technique etc…. traditional teaching.
This can leave little room for utilising what we have learnt through study and research into dancers anatomy and musculature. Combined with the ever growing demand placed on dance teachers with more classes, rehearsals, performances, greater choreography, harder tricks, details of technique and the understanding of how to efficiently perform movements can become overlooked.
“Dance teachers teach what they were taught” (Wilmerding and Krasnow, 2011)
There have been so many biomechanical assessments performed on dancers as the field of dance science has grown and yet practical application of the findings takes a long time. This means old teachings and misconceptions being taught in the classroom can put dancers at an increased risk of injury, these teachings then being passed down through generations of dance teachings.
There are so many dance teachers with no dance teaching specific qualifications and I am not saying that that is wrong, experience is a very good thing especially when it comes to having been in certain companies or productions, however, a basic understanding of anatomy and muscular development should be considered essential, let alone knowing what is considered current best practice or efficient training.
There is also a responsibility of the dancer to get to know their own anatomy to apply more practical thought into their training and career.
Good reads for dancers and dance teachers…
Dance Anatomy 2nd Edition Paperback – 20 Jan. 2018
Jacqui Greene Haas
Part of Human Kinetics Anatomy series
Fantastic book for both the dance teacher and dancer wanting more understanding the muscles involved in different dance movements and ways to strengthen them including gorgeous diagrams showing dancers in action and the muscles being used.
Safe Dance Practice
Edel Quinn, Sonia Rafferty and Charlotte Tomlinson
Perfect book for dance teachers wanting to perfect their teaching style by integrating all the many aspects of evidence based safe dance practice for the good of the teacher and student. Clear and easy to understand!
Any comments or recommendations welcome!
Wilmerding, V., & Krasnow, D. (n.d.). Dance pedagogy: Myth versus reality. In A. Williamson, D. Edwards, & L. Bartel (Eds.), International Symposium on Performance Science 2011.