Teaching Tips

3 Basic TheraBand Exercises to Increase Turnout and Strengthen Feet

For Feet Strengthening...


This four-way resistance-band workout strengthens stabilizing muscles all the way around the lower legs. Start with 10 reps of each variation.

1. The basic pointe-and-flex: Sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front, loop the band around one flexed foot at a time so you can focus on pressing sequentially and slowly through ankle, ball, toe, then back through toe, ball, ankle. Keep your working heel on the ground.


2. Cross the right ankle over the left knee, making a figure-four shape. Wrap the band around the right toes and use two hands to hold the ends of the band behind your back at your left hip. Pointe and flex slowly, avoiding winging or sickling the foot. Switch legs and hold the band at your right hip.


3. Supination, or sickling: Use one foot as an anchor to supinate the foot with resistance. With legs extended, wrap the band around your right toes. Cross your left foot over your right, allowing the left knee to bend as necessary to use the left foot to pull both sides of the resistance band out to the right, so your right foot pronates open. With a relaxed foot position, pull the right foot laterally against the band to supinate, then resist as you slowly pronate. Switch legs.


4. Change the direction of the band's resistance for pronation, or winging. Set up the same exercise, but with legs side-by-side. Wrap the band around the right toes. Use your left foot to hook both sides of the band and pull it inward so you can position legs side-by-side and the band is pulling the right foot to a supinated position. Pull against the band to pronate, and then slowly return to the supinated position.



For Turnout...

Photo by Emily Giacalone

1. Tie a TheraBand around your mid-calves (start with a low-resistance band like red or green and increase over time as it gets easier).

2. Keep your feet in parallel with your knees slightly bent.

3. Walk sideways (step, together, step, together) across the length of the studio. Repeat in the opposite direction.


To understand turnout better, plus an added stretch...

James Harren of Pilates Houston and Houston Ballet uses the frog movement to help students understand the effect turnout has on pelvic alignment, and to stretch the glutes, abdominals and inner thighs. This move, known as "The Frog," is traditionally done on the reformer, but it can be conducted on the floor with a TheraBand.



1.
Lie flat on your back and bend the knees in toward the chest. Keep the heels together and the toes a few spaces apart. The base of the spine should be in contact with the floor.



2. Place the exercise band across the balls of the feet; grip it near the knees.
Keep the head down (this will mimic the proper spinal placement needed for executing pliés correctly) and use the abs to curl the upper body off the floor. The chest and shoulders should remain wide. Release tension on the band if tugging is felt. Do not tuck the pelvis or let the tailbone roll up.

3. Inhale; extend the legs toward the ceiling. Flex the feet, like a plié in first position. Starting at 90 degrees (i.e., perpendicular to the floor), progressively bend the legs down into a diamond shape. Do not drop the knees, or push the stretching limit. Go as far as possible without losing pelvic position or changing turnout.

4. Exhale; return to starting position. Do six to eight extensions.

Music
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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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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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According to onstageblog.com, 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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