Hey Friends! So if you follow me over on Instagram, you may have seen an Instagram story I did last week; I went on a little rant about one of the things I really can't stand in the dance classroom. If you don't follow me on Instagram, we should totally be friends, but aside from that, I figured today's blog would be a good place to explain why the thing I ranted about bothers me so much.
What I was saying was that I really don't like in early childhood dance classes when we label body parts as 'good', or 'bad/naughty'. For example, I see in a lot of young classes during warm up dancers sitting in a circle and working on flexing/pointing their feet. A common enough exercise, for sure. But what I can't get behind is the pointed feet being 'good' toes, and the flexed feet being 'bad/naughty' toes.
While you might find this a trivial point to have a bugaboo with, hear me out - young dancers are especially impressionable, and will not only take these words to heart, and go home to practice them, but these words and ideas have the potential to become ingrained in them and stay with them for years to come as they develop their technique and ideas about their bodies.
Words matter. Especially in reference to our bodies, our choices and abilities. I really don't like the idea of associating morality (good vs. bad) with body parts, from the tip of our heads to our toes.
Now many teachers teach the way they were taught, right? How many of us use words, phrases, and visualizations that have stuck with us since we were young dancers? (I'm raising my hand here.) There's nothing wrong with that, that's how we learn and grow, but I think it's a good idea to keep aware of the words we use in the classroom and always ask if there's a different way we could be doing things. That challenges not only us as teachers, but our students as well - when we say new things and propose new ideas, our students are more likely to perk up and pay attention in a new way.
Ok, teachers, your turn. Will you be trying new phrases in your classes? Let me know what you think, and feel free to share these ideas with someone you think would find them interesting! If you're curious about how, exactly to shake up your teaching, and incorporate new and more empowering phrases, I'd love for you to check out my online class, Body Positivity and Empowerment in the Dance Classroom.
Thanks for reading, and happy dancing everyone!