We get it and we're even guilty of it ourselves - who wants to practice their ballet technique when they could be learning fun tricks?
The dance industry has changed a lot in the past 10 years with gymnastics and dance beginning to merge. Leg mounts, aerials, tilts and knee drops have replaced ball changes and arabesques. The single pirouette is no more with dancers trying to push for multiple turns on stage. Fouette turns have become a la seconde turns and leg hold turns.
Some say this change in dance choreography is due to tv shows such as 'Dance Moms' while others narrow it down to the Insta-Famous sensation. I know as a studio owner dancers attend class proud to show off the new trick they learnt off YouTube OR a parent wants to know why their 6 year old can't perform 5 pirouettes yet like @littlesuzy on Instagram.
I believe there is definitely a place for this in dance, I would be a hypocrite saying there's not when we've written our own jazz syllabus to include some of these things however, I firmly believe TECHNIQUE FIRST.
Why TECHNIQUE FIRST?
- SAFETY - a student needs to be able to correctly execute their basics before moving on to the next level. A good teacher is trained to know when a dancer is technically ready to execute a particular move. It's important not to compare one child to another as they all develop and learn differently and therefore will progress at different rates.
- LINES - there is no point in having the flexibility if you can't create the nice leg lines. A leg extension with pointed feet, pulled up knees, correctly aligned pelvis and extension to the ends of your toes and fingertips is a lot nicer to look at, than and leg pulled to the head with a hiked hip and flexed foot.
- CAREER PATHWAY - honestly this is the biggest reason dancers needs to focus on TECHNIQUE FIRST, especially if they are considering a career as a performer. Most auditions will begin with a technique cut first, meaning the dancer needs to be able to hold their own in this section before they even have the opportunity to perform or show off their tricks. Acro and extreme flexibility are great for a dancer who sees themselves in say Cirque Du Soleil for example but even then they're going to need to have their basic technique under control. If you think of any Broadway show you have seen - have you seen a dancer execute 6 pirouettes? Take their leg to extension and the pull it over into a tilt? Generally not right? Clean technique first!
I urge parents to consider the above when thinking about enrolling their child into dance or choosing between classes. My personal belief is that ballet class is so important, even if it is just to support your child's acro training. Also, consider this when scrolling through Instagram or YouTube comparing your child to others, I know we don't intentionally do this but sometimes you can't help but be wowed by that @littlesuzy.
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