Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dance Teachers and Knowledge of Anatomy

I admit I don’t know as much as I want to. In moments of insomnia I still get out my text books (such as Fitt and Calais-Germain) and read a chapter. Even run my hands over my model pelvis sometimes trying to make the terminology stick. But I’ve never really knuckled down to learning the flashcards.

Yet for dance teachers, a working knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology and safe dance practice really are not optional. With belly dance the safe dance practice is especially relevant as many of our students are not what traditional dance schools would normally deal with. They are often older, heavier and come with a range of injuries and problems linked to living.

This came to the fore when considering two things. One was a student who trumped my 6 months tertiary study and hundred plus hours with Michael with a full degree in Phys.Ed. Yet, her knowledge of physical safety was limited and she was often dismissive of real issues faced by other students. This could partly be because she herself was a formidable athlete – who was unwilling to see that not everyone was capable of her physical feats. But also her learning was some time in the past. Possibly she had forgotten some of what she had learnt – or more likely the science had improved over the years.

The second was doing a class with a teacher who considered rubbing your skin as a “warm-up”, who did not understand that standing hamstring “stretches” cannot lengthen the hamstrings – but might (if you are unlucky) lengthen lumbar ligaments that should never be lengthened and “helped” another student by missing the alignment needed for the hip flexor stretch she said we were doing.

This latter experience really did send me back to my books – burning with the knowledge that I needed to keep my own understanding and skills sharp. But I’m also aware that scientific understanding of best practices also change – and I hope I do not miss something important.