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Resource Paper: Dance pedagogy: Myth versus reality

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M. Virginia Wilmerding, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of New Mexico, USA
Donna Krasnow, Department of Dance, York University, Canada

The teaching of ballet is steeped in tradition. As a dancer retires from the stage, he or she will often embark upon a teaching career in order to provide a continuation of that tradition for the next generation. It is not uncommon for the institutional tenets of training dance skills to be at odds with what is biomechanically sound and, therefore, unsafe for the dancer to repeat in daily technique class. Dance science had its beginnings in the late 1960s. Colleges and universities began to turn a serious eye to the analysis of the physical component of dancing. Rudimentary equipment, such as videography, has given way to very sophisticated movement analysis systems such as 7-camera motion capture systems. As the ability to “see” dance increases with more refined tools, teachers of dance in general and ballet in particular need to make anatomically sound corrections and unassailable decisions in the training of young dancers, as the technique class should be the first stop in injury prevention. This presentation touches on just a few of the discrepancies between what is taught and what is actually possible to achieve in the ballet class.

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Written by M. Virginia Wilmerding and Donna Krasnow.
Originally published in the International Symposium on Performance Science, 2011.
Reprinted with permission on by the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS), September 2016.
Presented at the IADMS A Day for Teachers in Seattle in 2013.

Copyright © 2011 M. Virginia Wilmerding and Donna Krasnow.

This paper may be reproduced for educational purposes, provided acknowledgement is given to the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science,

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