Alignment response

In response to my alignment posts ( Chapter 1, Chapter 2), an internet friend wrote: Thank you. Very informative and positive. Do you think a child, say 8-10 years old (I choose that age because that’s when many serious programs admit students) could understand this type of material? Is it possible to prevent misalignment instead of just correcting it?I guess, like you said, it comes back to the language we use. A kid might not be interested in the anatomy, but they could learn to respond to the language that promotes correct alignment. Hmm. What do you think?

Yes, yes, yes!

Young kids probably would find the anatomy info as I present it dry and uninteresting, but they do most definitely respond to good teaching. And good teaching would include this info in a way that a child would find interesting. Since they respond to the mis-informed, ignorant and bad teaching, I should think they would only flourish with a knowledgeable teacher…and knowledgeable dance teachers do exist!! I know that my posts seem to only be about fixing problems already in existence…those are the questions I get, those are my reactions to the dancers I see around me too often.

And, since you brought this up, I have realized that basically all of my dance teaching career has been working with older dancers (meaning, not beginners), dancers aged 18 to 72 (yes 72!) who came to me with training. I have never thought about this before!

As a background for my thoughts on teaching, I should say that I come from a family of teachers…my mother and three sisters are all teachers at the elementary and junior high level. My father even did some teaching. Teaching is a way of life for my family. I did teach kids dance and even spent time as a substitute teacher in my hometown…but each experience taught me that I did not have the patience and the creativity that is necessary to teach kids. I found it really frustrating trying to get a 7 year-old to understand the implications of bad behavior and bad posture on their future life plans!!!! I found my niche in college teaching while I was still an undergrad. Teaching people with whom I could have a conversation beyond “Where’s Mommy?” put me in heaven.

But do not get me wrong…without elementary, middle, junior high, and high school teachers, I would never have had a job. I am truly, truly in awe of those teachers. Coming from my family, I know the time, the dedication, the education, the creativity and commitment that it takes to be a good teacher, to prepare children for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!!! It is truly disgusting that teachers are not the highest paid people on the planet!

At my 20th high school reunion, a long-lost friend actually said to me that although he loved being a (non-university) teacher, he knew it was not as important as what I was doing at the university level. I was floored! I actually made him blush when, first, I told him that he was sadly mistaken about his importance and then, second, went on about how without all of the other teachers that kids have before they ever get to college, I would have nothing to work with! I considered my teaching to be an endeavor that relied most heavily on ALL of the teaching that came before. HE was most important, not me. What a way of thinking!

All good teachers, those who work with children ages 0 to 18…you are heroes. And I thank you.

So, back to my perspective on dance training…I did teach beginners on occasion, but that was not my forte because, quite simply, I would become bored. Not very noble, but there it is. What turned my crank was working with students who had the background and the wherewithal to chew something up with me. I was the perfect graduate professor…tell me what you got, let me rip it up, and then let’s put it all back together so that we are both the better for it. Grand stuff!

And that is what informs what I write here…my experience as a teacher of folks with dance backgrounds. We took things apart and put them back together. We were mechanics…the car was limping along, so we had to fix it.

So, do I think that children can be taught well and correctly from the very beginning? Most definitely YES! I think the real question is, do enough teachers exist who can teach well and correctly? I do not know.

By writing about it, my hope is that enough folks will start thinking about all of this and start to change things for the better so that one day the ignorant dance teacher in any form will be the exception rather than the rule. Unfortunately, it is still the rule when it does not have to be. The information is out there…those who train the human body should understand the human body. The responsibility lies with the teacher to educate her- or himself. If they do not do it, then it lies with the moms and the dads and the dancers themselves.

Does that answer your question Peggy? Sort of?

Click for more kinesiology info: Dance Kinesiology

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peggy
    Aug 21, 2007 @ 00:51:00

    Yes! Thank you! My current teacher is one who had to stop dancing young because of back problems, and because of that she seems much more conscious of how the body works than any other teacher I’ve known.

    This is very fascinating for me. I hope you’ll keep going with the kinesiology posts. I never even thought about how the body produced movement until reading Gelsey Kirkland’s Dancing on my Grave at 16. It never even crossed my mind that movement might be a process, not just muscle memory. When I finally re-entered the ballet studio at 25 it was like starting over from scratch, but now I know how to ask the right questions!

    Again, Thank you!

  2. Ann
    Aug 21, 2007 @ 00:55:00

    And thank you, Peggy! You always give me something else to ponder…and I obviously love to write about the pondering! I do truly appreciate your thoughts.

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