Dancer Health
After doing yoga poses before class, Lauren Giordano Curran likes to warm up with her students. Photo by Caitlin Hargett, courtesy of Giordano Dance

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.

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Dance News

Another day, another dance video less-than-professionally executed by a celebrity. This time, it's singer Tinashe, leading us through a "ballet inspired" warm-up for Allure magazine. It's clear she's had some dance training—according to Allure, she grew up as a competitive ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop dancer—but there are also some clear issues, like heels popping up in a second position grande plié and some particularly flamboyant hands and arms. We can appreciate that this is ballet-inspired and not strictly ballet (she does have tennis shoes on), but isn't it about time we had a professional dancer lead us through exercises like these?

Are we being too tough on her? Watch the video and let us know.

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Dance News

  1. We’re counting down to January 1st with great ideas for your studio and teaching practice in the new year. Check back each day for a new tip!

As a teacher, going to class yourself 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. No warm-up fits all bodies, so you have to do what works for you, getting your muscles limber and your blood flowing. The most important thing is that you do it. (And the warm-up with students is not enough.)

Here, Amy Chavasse, who teaches at the University of Michigan, shares her personal warm-up practices. Use it to inspire your own routine.

"The first thing I do when I get up is go for an hour-long dog walk. I think about my day ahead and what I’ve been doing in my classes. It gets me intellectually and physically prepared for the day.

I would love to have 45 minutes to warm up before class, but I don’t always get it. If I can get into the studio, I’ll improvise for a bit, going through different ranges of motion. I usually do a few sun salutations, some warrior poses and side angle bends to feel spaciousness inside and resistance to the floor. Sometimes I’ll use a foam roller to actively roll out my quads.

If I’m not feeling particularly creative, I’ll use the elliptical machine in our performance lab. It’s a remarkably good way to get my blood flowing for half an hour."

Get yourself a Dance Teacher subscription to start off 2017 right!

Photo by Carlos Funn, courtesy of Chavasse

Dance News

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

For more warm-up ideas, subscribe to Dance Teacher.

This exercise follows the plié, tendu and dégagé series in Suzi Taylor's lyrical jazz class. It helps students manage their ribcage and shoulder alignment, while finding their centers.

Taylor trained in Southern California with Douglas Caldwell, Jaime Rogers and Philip and Charles Fuller before moving to New York City. There, she studied at The Ailey School and with Doug Wassel, David Howard and Finis Jhung. She has been teaching at Steps on Broadway for 25 years and is a founding teacher at New York City Dance Alliance. In fall 2013, she joined the dance faculty at Pace University.

Dance News

You’ve heard it before: get your blood flowing before you stretch, yet many dancers still arrive to class and immediately plop down into their full splits. If you weren’t already convinced, new research indicates that using static stretches as a warm-up leaves muscles weak and wobbly during the following workout.

As particularly bendy athletes, dancers have to be vigilant about letting flexibility exceed strength. Use dynamic stretches and gentle leg swings to warm up at the beginning of class and save the big stretches for later on. Click here to read DT's five rules of safe stretching.

Photo by Matt Karas for Pointe

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