Health & Body

Ask Deb: “What Language Should I Use to Correct Students?”

Thinkstock

When teachers say, "Tuck under" or "Pull in your belly button," what is happening anatomically? Is there better language I should use?


Our language should be as anatomically accurate as possible. Phrases like the two you mentioned can create a variety of responses, and not all desirable ones.

For example, a teacher may say, "Tuck under" when a student has a swayback and the teacher is trying to get the student to bring her pelvis more upright. Another teacher might use the phrase, "Pull in your belly button" with that same goal in mind. If you use the phrase, "Tuck under," the student may look like they are in better alignment, but muscularly they are contracting their gluteals and shifting forward over their feet.

Rather than say, "Tuck under," I would encourage teachers to describe anatomically what the goal is: the middle of the hip, knee and ankle joint in a vertical line if you look at the dancer from the side.

Ideally, we should give our students different images so they can choose the one that works for them. When I teach dance classes, I use anatomy to describe what is happening in the joints as a way of introducing movement. I try not to demonstrate very much, because I have found that students end up watching me and not putting it in their bodies quickly enough.

Bottom line: When a student isn't getting what we are saying, we need to figure out a different way to communicate the goal, not just say it louder or more often.

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Got a question for Deb? E-mail askdeb@dancemedia.com, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.