Balancing Dance Education: The Role of Strength and Conditioning

Dance Education

Beyond the Basics: A Heart-to-Heart on Dance Education

Hey fellow dance enthusiasts,

Today, I'm diving into a topic that hits close to home for every dancer, teacher, and parent in the dance community. It's all about reflecting on our practices and ensuring we're providing the best possible experience for our dancers. This isn't your usual step-by-step guide or success story; it's a heart-to-heart chat inspired by a recent episode from a show that's all about going "Beyond the Steps."

Reflect, Reevaluate, and Reach Out

The mid-season mark is here, and it's the perfect time for a little introspection. Are the exercises we're choosing for our dancers truly the best fit? This question isn't just about whether they're challenging or age-appropriate. It's deeper. It's about asking ourselves if we know the "why" behind each movement and if we're truly doing what's best for our dancers' growth, both as artists and individuals.

The Brutal, Honest Truth

Let's face it, we all have the best intentions. Yet, sometimes, our eagerness to be everything for everyone can cloud our judgment. It's crucial to take a step back and look at our teaching methods from a brutally honest perspective. If you were a parent, would you be satisfied with the level of care and education your child is receiving? This introspection can be tough but necessary.

Homework Time (But Not the Kind You're Thinking Of)

Here's a little assignment for all of us: Take a moment to really ponder if we're making the best choices for our dancers. This reflection isn't about immediate changes (though small tweaks are always possible); it's about long-term planning and improvement for the next season and beyond. Now is the golden opportunity to reassess and recalibrate.

Building Bridges and Forging Connections

One key takeaway from this heart-to-heart is the importance of reaching out and building relationships within our dance community. Whether it's connecting with local experts, attending Chamber of Commerce meetings, or simply having a chat with other dance educators, now is the time to lay the groundwork for future collaborations and improvements.

A Free Resource You Can't Afford to Miss

And guess what? There's homework for you too! But it's the good kind, I promise. There's a totally free resource called the Steps Initiative, packed with modules on crucial topics like racism, equity, inclusion, psychology, and dance medicine. Knowledge is power, and the more we know, the better we can be for our dancers.

Let's Get Personal

The episode highlighted the importance of personal consultation and adaptation. Whether you're in New Jersey or beyond, it's about finding ways to tailor your program to best serve your dancers' needs. Now might be the perfect time to explore new avenues, like introducing a strength and conditioning program or revamping your existing one.

Wrapping It Up

Remember, the dance world is a vibrant community that thrives on support and collaboration. Don't hesitate to reach out, share ideas, and work together. We're all here to make a difference in the lives of our dancers, one step at a time.

Stay tuned for more reflections and insights as we continue our journey beyond the steps. Let's make this dance season one to remember, not just for the performances, but for the positive impact we make on every dancer's life.

Continue your Education for yourself and your students with the StEPS Initiative Course!

About the StEPS Initiative Course

This course started in part with our charity event we created to save dance studios. Then we decided to keep it a free resource for the dance community. You can learn all about it below.

As part of our commitment to education and creating a safe space for all dancers, we are excited to introduce the StEPS Initiative Course. This has been curated by Apolla and donated from experts and professionals in each topic. 

Our goal in creating this course is to give dance teachers continuing education/professional development, give dancers the power of education, and provide parents the knowledge to see red flags. Each section has actionable items that can unite dance studios focused on equity and creating a safe space for every dancer. This course gives evidence-based information, some perspective & qualitative information, dance history, and further resources that can help you learn something new that helps progress and strengthen your studio OR solidify what you already have in place. There is something for everyone! 

This course is free for EVERYONE (Apolla has covered the cost and the presenters have donated the course content). These are meant to be introductions and actionable items for you. We know this is not a silver bullet to fix every issue or topic that needs to be addressed in dance. Each topic is deep and broad on its own. However, we aim for this to be the first step for some of us in these topics and even serves as a small catalyst for change in our industry. You will see there are also many resources that can allow you to expand your journey further in any of the subjects. With all that 2020 has thrown at all of us, we are determined to heal through listening, grow from adversity through action, and rise up by bringing everyone together. In the end, we will create a space open wide for the new generation of artists and athletes to ring in the new decade stronger and safer than ever!

Watch our Beyond the StEPS Episode on: “Should dance educators be teaching strength and conditioning classes?” With our hosts Bri and Melissa, and special guest Lauren Newby*, PTA

*Lauren Newby is a dance teacher, choreographer, and Physical Therapist Assistant in New Jersey.

Lauren graduated from Union County College with her Applied Associates degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant in 2016. She works at the Select Medical Sports Center of Excellence Powered by Kessler Rehabilitation Center in Union, NJ. As the Dance Specialist for Kessler, she focuses on educational programs regarding injury prevention and rehabilitation for local studios and dance programs.

Lauren is a member of Danse Medica and the Lead of their Executive Education Board. She is a Certified Pointe Shoe fitter through the Pointe Shop. Lauren is also a member of the National Dance Education Organization, Associated Dance Teachers of New Jersey, Dance New Jersey, the American Physical Therapy Association, the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), and the International Association of Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS).

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