Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Do I Prevent a Labral Tear?


Q: I have a friend who was diagnosed with a labral tear. She said it's becoming more common among dancers. Is there a way to prevent this?

A: Labral tears are being diagnosed more often because our ability to see inside the hip capsule with arthrograms and MRIs is getting better. That being said, I believe that the repetitive stresses that dancers put on their hip joints make them ideal candidates for this type of injury.

The labrum at the hip joint acts to deepen the bowl where the head of the femur rests. Injuries to the labrum can occur from chronic trauma, like a dancer working to turn out their leg through sheer muscular determination and force, and acute trauma, like a fall or violent motion at the joint. Signs and symptoms that accompany a labral tear might be deep pain, loss of strength, decreased range of motion and a catching sensation in the hip.

So, what can we do as teachers to prevent this from happening in our students? Help them understand how to create turnout in their body with their specific hip structure. We need to stop holding the myth of 180-degree turnout as the gold standard to reach for. We need to develop the mind-set that says most students start with average turnout, and through years of stretching, strengthening and balancing out the hip joint muscles, their turnout will improve, slowly and safely.

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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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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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