DT Notes: Dance Medicine for Dance Educators

In March, University at Buffalo senior Allison Jones attended “Dance Medicine for Dance Educators: Specific Concerns,” hosted by the university’s Department of Theatre & Dance, where she is a dance management intern. The two-day conference was presented by the New York State Dance Education Association in cooperation with the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, and the theme was providing today’s dancers and dance educators with information and techniques to improve their physical and mental health. Here are some takeaway thoughts from workshops that included “Debunking Common Myths: Science vs. Studio,” “Considerations for the Adolescent Dancer” and “Functional Tests to Assess Pointe Readiness.”


1 Dancing on demi-pointe puts four times a dancer’s body weight on the foot, and dancing on pointe is equivalent to 12 times her body weight. The ankle stability needed to support her on pointe comes from increased strength and control in the hips and trunk.


2 Many adolescent dancers may consider quitting because of physical, psychological and social changes. This is a time for the dance teacher to focus on rewarding students’ effort and educating them about proper technique, growth and nutrition.


3 Practice periodization—based on the sports science model that includes pre-season, in-season, post-season, off-season and cross-training—to maintain the health and longevity of your students as dancers. For dance teachers, this means pre-planning the entire year to map out when conditioning classes and rehearsals should increase and decrease.


4 Fatigue is the number-one risk factor for injury because it affects neural feedback, muscular control and joint stability. It is essential to build rest into each day and decrease the intensity of rehearsals before performance.


5 Teachers work just as hard as students do in and outside of class. To avoid burnout, change the structure of your classes by switching music or allowing a student to teach a new combination at the barre. And demonstrate a healthy lifestyle by eating right, going to the gym, resting and scheduling personal time to allow your body to reenergize.

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.