Youth Fitness On Steady Decline

Frustrated American educators have watched while those in power have ignored recommendations and research that has suggested this for over 25 years although families that can afford to give their child the greatest gift they have to give, a dance education, can be assured of good fitness throughout their lifetimes because of this early investment.

Movement and Music Increase Executive Functioning

As if any of us here needed further convincing, here is yet one more short article supporting the argument that children and adults need more and not less of what dance has to offer. Note – executive functioning is referring to cognitive flexibility, working memory, processing speed and verbal fluency.

“Musical training can now be added to three other activities which have been shown to increase children’s executive functioning: physical exercise, mindfulness training and martial arts.”

Since dance training requires precision in all 3 of the above activities, or similar, I would suggest that it isn’t that bright above average children are attracted to dance but that dance is creating bright, above average children. I have NEVER taught an accomplished dancer who didn’t excel in school and develop psychological maturity ahead of her peers. And I’ve been teaching a long time 🙂



The Homogenization of American Dance

At first I thought it was my imagination. I spent a week last summer in Chicago at the Chicago Dancing Festival watching a dozen companies, of all genres. The ballet companies were doing modern pieces, the modern companies had ballet slippers on for some pieces, the jazz company now does modern – it was a complete mind swoon. But after my recent visit to Jacobs Pillow, seeing Pacific Northwest Ballet, I can definitely say that the dance companies, on this continent anyway, are all doing the same kinds of dance pieces. And although they make look more versatile to a recreational dance fan, I think it’s not doing much for their likability from my seat.

Really, it’s little wonder when the cost of doing business is high and the audience base is relatively small, that these companies all want to be everything to everyone. Add to that the small number of choreographers that are working and setting pieces on modern, ballet, and jazz companies. Unfortunately, just because you’re well-trained doesn’t mean you can do everyone’s choreography well. I did not think PNB is the right company for dancers to be doing pieces sans shoes. Their feet do not ’embrace’ the floor the way they should and their torsos do not contract organically based on the energetic impetus that I expect to see in a modern piece. That said, I was even disappointed the last time I saw Ailey do Revelations. EEeeek – where did all those contractions go? Ya know, the ones that were choreographed into the piece.

The only ballet piece PNB did do was without tights which I’m not opposed to and the dancing was definitely their best piece on the program, but it was also the only point piece they did. They closed with a Nacho Duarte piece that was 10 years old about slavery. I won’t even go into why white folk might rethink dancing a piece like that….. the topic was exhausted in my circles long ago as in I don’t teach African Dance and my counterparts don’t teach ballet. I haven’t done the work to deserve to speak to those experiences.

So I might suggest the same to these companies. Can you respectfully speak to and carry the history of these genres or are you faking it for the money?

10 Simple Postures That Boost Personal Performance

“Psychological research suggests simple actions can project power, persuade others, increase empathy, boost cognitive performance and more.”

From Wake Up World Blog, some insight into the world of body language. And these will not be what you think… or what you expect.

“Many of these studies support a theory about human life (and indeed all life) called ‘embodied cognition’. The idea is that we don’t just think with our minds, we also think with our bodies. Our mind isn’t a brain in a jar, it is connected to a body which moves around in an environment.

As life becomes increasingly virtual, played out on screens of varying sizes, we need reminding that the connection between mind and body is two-way. Human intelligence is more than abstract processing power; it’s about the interaction between mind, body and the world around us.”

The Mystery of Stretching Revealed

To paraphrase the great dance kinesiologist Sally Fitt, of all the principles of conditioning, the most frequently overlooked is effective sequencing. Five teaching principles:
1. start gradually- warm-up first
2. After fatiguing a muscle group, take time to recover and loosen (the primary problem w most gym programs)
3. before stretching a major muscle group, ‘set up’ by doing a maximal contraction in the opposing muscle group if it’s equal mass
4.consider joint actions
5. listen to the body
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Active Kids Get Better Grades

Any kind of physical activity seems to boost kids’ school performance, according to a recently published international analysis. Researchers reviewed 14 studies Continue reading