Asking for help

There have been so many posts lately on the various boards all asking for help with turn-out, foot strength and flexibility, pain of all kinds, etc. Links to the kinesiology posts on this blog are showing up all over…that is gratifying.

Posters keep asking the same questions…does no one check the archives, or simpler yet, read current postings to find exactly the same questions already asked and in some cases debated ad nauseum?

And what is it they are looking for? A quick fix? There are NONE!

And some of the answers! The silliest answers I have ever read! How about the one that advises that you wear your shoes on the wrong feet to enhance your turn-out!???!

“Try wearing your normal running shoes on the opposite feet for a few days. Don’t do it for long amounts of time, but it kinda helps if you just need that extra push.”

Why the hell would you wear your shoes on the wrong feet? I have read this before…explanations range from the eye-blinking bizarre (“it helps your feet know what turn-out feels like”) to the jaw-dropping ridiculous (“if you compete with your shoes on the wrong feet, it makes you look more turned-out and crossed”)!!!

I was asked about doing a post on evaluating turn-out by a few people. I have obviously not done one…how can I explain what to look for? I am more than happy to write about the anatomy, how we are put together, how we should move as opposed to how we WISH we could move…but I cannot in good conscience write about how to evaluate and correct specific problems that I cannot see.

For this very same reason, folks should stop asking for specific help for specific problems…and folks should stop offering cure-all quack opinions.

The bigger issue here, though, is the fact that folks are in the dark about their injuries, problems, physical challenges…TECHNIQUE! Who is to blame for this? The Irish dance teacher, the TCRG. Is it all ID teachers? No. And I will venture a guess that even some of the question posters have good teachers that they are NOT listening to. But the fact is that the teacher should have all of the information necessary for the student to dance long, strong, and correctly. Period. Irish dance is no longer simply a “folk art.” It has moved into being a high-powered, very athletic movement art that has borrowed many a “trick” from other dance forms. It should rightly be presumed that ID teachers know all the necessary information to train their students to perform this ever-changing technique, but that is not the case.

So where to go for help when it is needed? There is so much information on anatomy on the web. I will continue to write about the dancing body. There are books galore. But here’s the rub…this information needs to be READ and STUDIED to be understood. That means a reader must take responsibility for the information. A single reading of any source is not enough to understand it. But most importantly, finding someone to talk to IN PERSON is the only safe way to have a problem evaluated. Period. No amount of online advice is going to fully address any issue. Go to your teacher first…ask, ask, ask. If she/he does not know, perhaps she/he will find out if you persist. If your TC does not help solve the problem, perhaps it is time to find a new teacher. If enough folks stop treating TCs like demi-gods and start treating them like the responsible professionals they should be, perhaps a change will be effected.

If you cannot/will not change teachers, then seek out a sports doctor or physical therapist or trainer. These folks DO know what they are doing. While they may not understand Irish Dance per se, they know the body. Over the years, my best training came from medical professionals who were free from the blinders of a specific movement technique. The body has a “movement technique” all its own… and that should be understood fully by any movement professional.

Click here for some of my favorite resources.

Click for more kinesiology info: Dance Kinesiology

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Sep 01, 2007 @ 09:59:00

    Hi Ann,

    I’ve recently started reading your blog after finding it through a link on I just wanted to thank you for writing your posts on kinesiology and the body, and to let you know that you *have* inspired at least one person to take the extra step and actually study this information. I had to chuckle when I looked at the link to your favorite resources just now, because yesterday I ordered two of those books from Amazon, and have a couple others on my wish list! Keep up the good work!

    -Ellen from NY

  2. Ann
    Sep 01, 2007 @ 10:58:00

    YAY!!! That’s what I have been waiting to hear!!! Fantastic and good luck to you!

  3. GailV
    Sep 02, 2007 @ 20:41:00

    Hurray! The post I’ve been waiting for — a list of books!

  4. Michele
    Sep 06, 2007 @ 11:37:00

    Hi Ann, I am a recent reader of your blog, and have an interest in what you are sharing. My son, 18, is an Irish step dancer, and he sees a pedorthist regularly… has specific orthotics for hard and soft shoes, and street shoes. When he has sudden pain, the first thing we do is see the pedorthist, he can identify the source of the pain and adjust the orthotics or the shoes to alleviate it. He’s had physical therapy at times to correct imbalances caused by dancing. His teachers now know that when he is in pain, he should not dance. Thanks!

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