Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Can I Help Young Children Stand Correctly?


Great question! The common alignment pattern for young children is to stand with their bellies poofed out in a swayback posture. In that position, the hip flexors are in the shortened position, and the hip extensors are in an elongated position.

It's also not uncommon to see a young dancer tucking their pelvis. Both patterns limit the mobility and the move-ability of the dancer. Here are some ways to help them find a neutral pelvis.

One trick is to have them stand at a wall, facing away, with their pelvis lightly touching the wall. Their shoulders should not touch at all—even the skinniest of dancers have some pelvic protrusion. When they do their demi-pliés, they'll keep the gluteals lightly touching the wall as they slide down, keeping the weight even on the three points of their feet, and without the shoulders touching the wall. You might give them the image of a merry-go-round horse and sliding up and down on the pole.

Have them lie on the ground, knees bent and arms by their sides, and do slow bridges, maybe even holding at the top. This helps strengthen the extensors as well as work the core. Make sure they keep breathing!

Then have them stand back up and imagine themselves like a flexible tube, getting long and skinny like Gumby. That should help them find the vertical line of the body, instead of lifting their ribs as a way of standing up straight.

Slowly they will learn that a neutral pelvis is having the pelvic bowl upright and aligned over the legs.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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