Health & Body

Ask Deb: What's Causing Hip Pain During Splits, Front Battement or Downward Dog?


Q: One of my older students has pain in her right hip whenever she does a front battement or the splits, or when in downward dog. What do you think is going on?

A: My best guess is that your student probably has an inflamed bursa (a fluid-filled sac that lies between tendons and bones which reduces friction during movement). There is a bursa that lies underneath the iliopsoas tendon in the front of the hip. When you're in hip flexion (a battement to the front, downward dog, the splits or, in some cases, just sitting too long), the bursa is compressed. When a bursa gets irritated and inflamed, you have bursitis.

To explore if your dancer has bursitis, encourage her to work on releasing and lengthening the hip flexors while temporarily stopping movement that irritates the hip. Once she's done this, watch for possible causes of why it happened in the first place. Does she have tight hip flexors? Does she have an extra-flexible body that needs balance from stability? How well does she ground her weight through the floor?

You need to be patient with bursitis, but it is an injury in which full recovery can be achieved.

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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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