Dance Teachers Trending

VCU Professor Scott Putman’s Structural Reeducation Practice

EBAS trainees at a workshop in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Chris Winton-Stahle, courtesy of the photographer

Seated on the floor in a wide butterfly stretch position, Virginia Commonwealth University professor Scott Putman is the picture of relaxation. His posture is impeccable—head stacked on top of tension-free shoulders, hands resting on his shins and a spine that seems to levitate up out of his hips and legs. “Soles of the feet together. Find your sitz bones," he says soothingly. As he gives concise instructions, he begins a series of small spinal actions—shifting back in the pelvis (for lumbar flexion), folding over (to engage the thoracic spine) and stretching through the sternum (for slight thoracic extension). He calls this “Awakening the Spine," and it's the beginning of his Elemental Body Alignment System (EBAS), a structural alignment and reeducation system that he has developed over the past 20 years.


Development and Application

A back injury in 1996 was the impetus for Putman's EBAS research. One of his students, trained in the alignment method Global Posture Reeducation, offered Putman the opportunity to work with her to heal his back. “Muscularly, we reeducated the small deformities in my spine and bow legs," says Putman. “There were huge transformations happening in my body." When his student moved away after a year, Putman began creating his own set of exercises to sustain the progress he had made, eventually developing his level 1 series—an hour-long flow class.

EBAS has come a long way since his injury. Putman now has level 2 and 3 exercises and has incorporated a variety of practices into EBAS. “Eastern philosophy and esoteric healing modalities have a lot to do with the teaching philosophy," he says, referring to massage therapy, Thai healing and martial arts. “For example, when I talk about tendu derrière and how the leg gets to arabesque, I use energy lines of the body and energy points on the leg to help students understand how to override the quadriceps working."

EBAS exercises come back to one main focus: accessing the deeper muscles to help support healthy alignment. Putman's combination of using anatomical terminology and vivid imagery (“Feel the erector spinae yawning") helps students connect the dots between what they're feeling and what's occurring anatomically.

Although Putman is oriented to dance, EBAS can be beneficial for any kind of physical practice. “I've done workshops with yoga practitioners. I worked with a Parkinson's patient to increase her balance and stability," he says. “I've had golfers increase their swings because of the new range of motion in their spines."

In the University Setting

At VCU, Putman teaches ballet and modern technique, as well as composition, partnering, repertory and senior projects. He incorporates EBAS into the freshman curriculum two days a week, moving through the level 1 series their first semester and level 2 in the spring. Students work sequentially through each exercise slowly until they know the whole series, at which point Putman conducts the entire flow class.

“Ballet is a codified system, so it tends to be a way in which students can enter into the information easily," Putman says. “They all know what a tendu is, so it takes away the mystery of the concepts and focuses on the technique of the body in that form." For example, his traction series, done seated on the floor with arms behind the torso in line with the shoulders in a push-up position, helps students connect their arms to their backs for better port de bras.

Because few freshmen come with prior experience in any somatic practice, Putman appeals to their existing desires. “What is needed to reach them is to empower them in what they want, such as increased range of motion, more turns, higher jumps, and show them that they are able to do it pain-free," he says. “It's surprising to see how quickly students open up to the work when they see themselves having immediate results."

The overall effect at VCU has been positive. Teachers have found that EBAS helps eliminate many typical alignment issues, which allows them more time to focus on other things like performance quality, musicality and style. Students find a heightened consciousness of how their bodies function. That consciousness then inspires greater confidence in themselves.

Putman has spent the last 20 years developing and refining EBAS. Photo by Keith Weng, courtesy of Putman

Spreading the Word

“My goal is just to share the information," says Putman. Since 2012, he has been certifying teachers in EBAS. Though it isn't a requirement, many practitioners are VCU alumni. EBAS teachers can be found throughout the East Coast, as well as Italy, Canada, Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee and Michigan. Meanwhile, Putman is working on a book about EBAS and a level 2 DVD (the level 1 DVD has been available for three years).

“The biggest hurdle for me has been helping people realize where I'm coming from," says Putman. “EBAS is designed to enhance people's functionality inside their aesthetic practice, not change their aesthetic practice. I want to work together with people, not change people."

The Conversation
Dancer Health
Getty Image

Here are a few ways to keep this major muscle group in check.

Keep reading... Show less

Showstopper sees all types of different dancers from across the world at their dance competitions. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to stand out among the 100s of dancers that perform on their stages.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun

Here's "The Twelve Days of Christmas" dance teacher style! Try your hand at writing your own lyrics to the song, and share it over on our Facebook page.

You may even want to sing this at your studio's holiday party this year—it's a smash, if we do say so ourselves 💁.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
via Youtube

Finding music is arguably the most challenging aspect of choreography. Songs that speak to you in a deep and genuine way are seriously hard to come by! To help, here are five music artists who provide choreography inspiration magic to all who listen to them. They're all the rage this year, and if you follow their music down the rabbit hole of streaming services long enough, you'll find exactly what you're looking for, for your next group number or solo.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Photo credits, clockwise from bottom left: Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet; Jayme Thornton; Jochen Viehoff, Courtesy Stephanie Troyak; Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet; Jim Lafferty; Arian Molina Soca, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Scott Shaw, Courtesy Shamar Wayne Watt

Every year we love to see Dance Magazine's coveted list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing in the field of dance. This year's picks are nothing short of exceptional.

Congratulations to these 25 up-and-coming artists!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by TutuTix
Photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield on Unsplash

The start of a new calendar year—smack dab in the middle of the studio year—often brings its own challenges, issues and focuses. Here are two big questions on the minds of studio-business leaders as they head into 2019.

Are we giving our students what they really need? After taking some senior dancers to college dance auditions, Dale Lam noticed how they struggled with the modern portion. "They did fine in ballet," she says, "but then when it came to the modern part, they were fish out of water."
Her approach Lam hired a modern teacher for Horton and Graham techniques at her South Carolina–based studio, Columbia City Jazz Dance School & Company. She could see the difference in her dancers after only a few months. "I feel like I'm actually getting them more of what they're going to need—providing them the education they'll need after competitions."

What to do about the demand for instant gratification? Suzanne Blake Gerety and Kathy Blake have noticed a disturbing trend with parents new to dance at their Amherst, New Hampshire, studio. Gerety calls it push-button mentality: "They think, 'If I can get Amazon to ship my package overnight, why can't I get my kid to take class just once a week and get them on pointe?'"
Their approach "It's communicating to parents how it works at our studio, how you progress here and what the benefits of dance are," she says. They hold informational sessions at parent nights, including details of intensive and competition track options. They also invite alumni to help run recitals and assist with summer intensives as a way to demonstrate what studio graduates look like.

Studio Owners who try TutuTix for their Spring 2019 Recitals can get a $222 Visa Gift Card. Click here to learn more.

Dancer Health
Performing Dance Arts dancers at The Dance Awards in Florida 2018 (via @performingdancearts Instagram)

Needing some inspiration for how to celebrate the holidays with your dancers? We've got you covered. Check out how Performing Dance Arts (The Dance Awards Orlando 2018 Studio of the Year), of Toronto, Canada, brings dancers together and strengthens studio bonds throughout the Christmas season.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what you like to do with your dancers to celebrate this time of year.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health

Q: Some teach that a tendu à la seconde should align across from the toes on the supporting side, whereas others teach that it should be directly across from the heel. I feel aligning with the heel is ultimately correct, but I prefer to teach dancers to align with the toes because it's safer. What do you think?

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
"We think as dancers, 'Oh my gosh, if this thing isn't working hard enough, I have to work it harder.' In order for these muscles to work, they have to have a chance to relax, too." –Kathryn Maykish

As deeply familiar as dancers are with their bodies, there's one muscle group that can remain mysterious. You can't see it, and it can be tough to access, but the pelvic floor serves a major role in your posture and body function. Dancers and other athletes are more prone than the general population to dysfunction of the pelvic floor, and this can have major ramifications in dance and life.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty

The holidays are here, and as everyone knows, the real best way to spread Christmas cheer is serving your community and helping those in need. Luckily for dance teachers, dance studios are the perfect backdrop for the start of some seriously awesome service projects. Your dancers will learn the value of helping others, and you will all feel warm and fuzzy inside!

Check out these three service-project ideas, and try implementing them at your studio this season. Let us know over on our Facebook page, or in the comments below, what other projects you do at your studio that make a difference in your community!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Eva Stone directs The Stone Dance Collective, shown here in Eve, reconsidered. Photo by Rex Tranter, courtesy of The Stone Dance Collective

Unlike the majority of my students and colleagues, my journey in dance has been unorthodox. At age 14, I enrolled in modern dance at my high school, and something about the large open studio with room to move thrilled me (and still does). I immediately set out to impress my dance teacher with my complete repertoire, a solo interpretation of "Bohemian Rhapsody" created in my living room, infused with several badly self-taught ice-skating moves. In that moment, an awareness of the power of movement, music, space and performance aligned, and I instinctively knew I was someplace special.

My high school dance teacher was smart. Knowing that she did not have the time to mold us into technically proficient dancers, she introduced us to the craft and skill of making dances. I spent four years opening the door to my creative voice, becoming a confident choreographer. As a dance major in college, however, I quickly realized I was lacking something very important: actual dance training. So I began an intense regimen of studying, analyzing, copying, stealing and emulating every movement language, quality and nuance with which I could connect. Later, I completed a master's degree in choreography and choreological studies, formed a small dance company and set out to fund my artist's life with teaching.

As a modern dancer, and having come to dance late, communication and imagery were significant in managing the demands of my training. I had to ask a lot of questions, because I had not yet developed a physical vocabulary of answers. I needed a sense of humor, to prevent me from quitting. I had to negotiate, rationalize, moderate and articulate, both verbally and physically, a pathway through much of what I was performing in or choreographing. This allowed me to solve problems more creatively, from a place separate from a perspective of pure technical ability. I now use these same methods for teaching students.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by TutuTix
Photo by Allef Vinicius via Unsplash

The holidays can make this time of year fly by. But successful studio directors know that December is not the time to rest on their laurels. Here are four projects to consider this month to give your business a year-end boost.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored