While teaching jazz at Gus Giordano Dance, sometimes Lauren Giordano Curran forgets she's not a student. “You have to listen to your body. I have to know I can't do a full-out battement because I'm going to tear my hamstring," she says. “Teachers forget that and go right into it, and you find yourself, like, 'Ooh that didn't feel right. I shouldn't have done that.'"
Some dancers who retire from performing are surprised that teaching can be even more stressful on their bodies. “You're stopping and starting, jumping out of nowhere, not doing things on both sides," says Clarice Marshall, who teaches Pilates, injury prevention and Gyrotonic for dancers and company ballet class at Mark Morris Dance Group. “In a dance career, if you're lucky enough to be employed by a major company, your job is to take care of yourself. You have the time to go to class and work on things during the day." As a teacher, that isn't always an option. If you're devoting your full attention to students during class, it's important to make time to warm yourself up beforehand.
After doing yoga poses before class, Lauren Giordano Curran likes to warm up with her students.
In our April issue’s Health column we asked four teachers what their personal warm-up practices were. Here’s what jazz teacher Lauren Giordano Curran had to say.
Lauren Giordano Curran
Specializes in jazz for students of all ages at Gus Giordano Dance
Age: in her 20s
Before class I do basic back-opening, spine-strengthening yoga poses like cat-cow and thread the needle, just to relax the side of my face on the floor and find an opening on the front side body and the back. I also do eagle pose or sometimes just eagle arms. I’ll round over and gaze up at the ceiling for a few moments. I feel so much release.
Then I’ll warm up with the kids as much as I can. I’ll make sure to get my heart rate up within the first five to seven minutes. Then by the end of the warm-up—half hour, 45 minutes—we’re all dripping sweat and ready to go across the floor. Once they’ve memorized the warm-up, I spend more time walking around the room, observing and correcting, so I’ll give myself the warm-up before class. It includes contractions and releases, isolations, cardio—like jumping jacks—pliés, tendus, dégagés, ronds de jambe and stretching.
Photo by Caitlin Hargett, courtesy of Giordano Dance
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