With the physical demands required of dancers today, conditioning and injury-prevention are more important than ever. So it's no secret that dance teachers are constantly in search of new ways to challenge, strengthen and build upon their dancers' training—safely.

Cue The Hall Method.


Marlene Hall, who's now on faculty at the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSA), first noticed the benefits of Pilates and TheraBand conditioning—and how it strengthened her ballet and pointe work—while attending UC, Irvine. Eventually, she created her first Therabarre class in 1998, followed by the Foam Roller Barre, Ball Barre (on the wall) and the Disc Class, all to compliment her students' normal dance-training schedule. "The method is great for all dancers," says Hall. "We specialize in preparing dancers for college, working in collaboration with college dance programs and helping professional dancers extend their injury-free careers by working with companies and independent dancers."

Her current and former students, including Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancer Michael Montgomery and Asia Bonilla, a dancer at the Ailey School/Fordham University BFA program, incorporated the technique into their training. "The Hall Method gave me my dance career back after chronic pain and injury had sidelined me," says Kai Hazelwood, who is Hall's partner and the first teacher trained to teach the method.

Over the years, the technique has also sparked interest from the sports medicine community. Spine rehab specialist Dr. Jim Augustine endorsed the Therabarre class as very safe and effective. In 2011, the strengthening of Hall's pre-pointe students was noticed by the USA Gymnastics athlete care coordinator Dr. David Kruse, and by Dr. Jeff Russell, who specializes in keeping athletes and dancers healthy.

A Therabarre class follows the format of a classical ballet barre, but exercises are executed with both legs attached to either end of a TheraBand, the center of which is anchored on a barre behind the student to add resistance and allow for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF).

Exercise #1: Therabarre Tendu Exercise

Two tendu Therabarre exercises youtube

"Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, an advanced stretching technique, based on the notion that muscles can achieve a greater range of motion after they have been fatigued, has been used for years by athletes, gymnasts, rehabilitation and conditioning professionals," says Russell, PhD, AT, FIADMS Ohio University. "Physical therapists and trainers use PNF by fatiguing a muscle or muscle group with an isometric contraction, then stretching that muscle with the resistance of a partner. In Therabarre, the TheraBand replaces the need for a partner, which allows for complete control by the dancer, eliminating any danger."

Exercise #2: Piqué and Balance With Rotator Disc

Piqué and balance exercise with rotator disc youtube

In 2014, while working closely with Kruse and Russell, Hall presented her work at the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) in Basel, Switzerland, to a group of artistic directors, doctors and physical therapists from all over the world. Currently The Hall Method has three medical patent–pending classes in the U.S. and the European Union. A teacher-certification program is also in the works.

"My most proud accomplishment," says Hall, "has been helping two of my students straighten out their spines from scoliosis in four months and eliminating having to go into back braces. Helping people is my passion."

Exercise #3: Grand Battement on the Wall With Ball

Grand battement devant from sous-sus on the wall exercise with ball youtube

For more information about The Hall Method and the upcoming 2019 workshop, click here.

The Conversation
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It's February! The month of love (and by extension, the month of pink) is upon us. We are major fans of a good class theme, and dressing lovey-dovey is one of our very favorites! So this month, to keep you on brand, we have a list of our favorite pink leos on the market right now. They're all kinds of wonderful.

Check them out and let us know your favorite in the comments!

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Check out our five reasons why, and let us know over in our comments if we got 'em right!

XOXO

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In Antoine Hunter's jazz class, students inevitably pick up sign language just by virtue of being his student. Though he doesn't typically incorporate ASL into his class combos, this dynamic phrase, which is one of his favorites, includes four signs: "heart," " re," "gone" and "deaf."

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We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

Here are four common phrases dance teachers often say, and four ways we can adjust them to make them constructive and productive.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what phrases you try to avoid as a dance teacher!

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Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

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Running a studio can be a major juggling act. It's no surprise, then, that a few things slip through the cracks—costing you money or students. Watch out for two common but often unnoticed mistakes, and you'll find yourself with more time, clients and revenue on your hands.

1. Using online registration as a crutch

If you offer registration via your studio website, make sure you aren't losing clients by neglecting in-person registration. One day Kathy Morrow, director of Dance Du Coeur in Sugar Land,Texas, overheard a front desk staffer directing a new client to the studio's website to register, rather than offering to do it over the phone. "I thought, You had a fish on the hook—why didn't you walk them through it?" she says. "When you register, there are a lot of boxes to check off. Some people want to pay with a check, some to link to a credit card. We can make it easier by answering any questions directly."

2. Not delegating

Have you heard yourself say, once too often, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself"? Overextending yourself because of perfectionism or a misguided need to control can be counterproductive. By creating choreography, teaching, bookkeeping, cleaning, making phone calls, typesetting, doing payroll, mailings and ordering, you could be leaving no time for the very things that will create your best business. Misty Lown decided to delegate all the teaching at her Onalaska, Wisconsin-based studio, Misty's Dance Unlimited. "Giving up teaching was super-hard," she says, "but it's the best decision I ever made. Whenever I was teaching, it meant I never saw the other five classrooms that were operating during that time. Now I can rotate my time checking on classrooms and interacting with students."

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Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

Depending on a ballet teacher's preference and style of training, sur le cou-de-pied (meaning "on the neck of the foot") may be incorporated into class at different times and in various ways. From steps like pas de cheval to frappé and développé, the wrapped position can be fundamental to a student's technical development. Or it can be used less often and as a supplement to cou-de-pied front and back. Either way, the value of the position remains constant as a tool to mold and strengthen dancers' feet.

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Show your significant other how much you love them through dance! Send them one of your favorite romantic dance videos that best describes your feelings, and they're sure to swoon!

Here are four of our favorites that depict a range of emotions along the spectrum of true love. Let us know over on our Facebook page which one best represents your relationship!

You're welcome in advance!

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The best way to celebrate a holiday in the dance teacher world is to create a class combo that fits the theme! It's a sure-fire way to get you and your kiddos into the spirit of the day! So, Valentine's Day, we recommend some mushy, cheesy, oh-so-wonderful love songs!

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You're welcome!

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When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

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