Magazine article Dance Teacher

Spotlight on Lisa Howell

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Spotlight on Lisa Howell

Article excerpt

Australia-based physiotherapist Lisa Howell has made it her mission to assess and treat dancers of all ages. When teaching and traveling, she notices teachers everywhere have concerns about training turnout in their youngest students. Here, she discusses points from her seminar Training Turnout in Tiny Dancers.

Dance Teacher: Where do many teachers go wrong when It comes to teaching turnout?

Lisa Howell: A lot of people start focusing on the turning-out part when dancers are far too young. They're taking techniques that are OK to use on adults and applying them for younger and younger children. The problem is, young pelvises don't have the mechanical stability to actually cope with these exercises.

For instance, I advise against any partner-stretching under the age of 16, as well as any stretch when the teacher is pushing down on the knees or pelvis. If teachers are pushing dancers into stretches, there's a lot of damage that can be done early on that will affect the child's hips later For this reason, a lot of the training turnout we talk about is not actually training in turnout at all. What you want to do is maintain the child's range of motion and really focus on developing stability. Many of these kids who are executing perfect fifth or first positions can't actually stand on one leg in parallel, because they lack core and deep pelvic stability.

DT: What do you do to help young dancers maintain their range of motion?

LH: We use gentle stretches, like yoga poses, and movements. …

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