Regional Ballet Tutors Professional Development Day, Central School of Ballet - 23rd January
Central School of Ballet invited dance teachers from around the UK to visit the school for a professional development day on Tuesday. Alongside opportunities to observe second year ladies in class and Ballet Central in rehearsal, there were seminars focusing on safe scheduling and pointe work.
Professor Matt Wyon spoke about the latest dance science research. It shows that effective training is not about the number of hours but rather the quality of those hours. It's recommended that adolescent dancers train for a maximum of one hour per week for every year of their age (eg. 11 hours per week for an 11-year-old). Most vocational dance schools far exceed this (with 16-18-year-old students usually dancing 30+ hours a week), resulting in fatigue, overwork, decreased capacity for learning and increased injury risk.
A representative from Freed of London spoke about pointe readiness. The ideal time to begin pointe work is at the onset of puberty (around age 12-13), although this will vary depending on the individual student. A good indication of adequate strength is if the young dancer can hold a rise in 1st position solidly, with the correct posture and engagement of both inner and outer leg muscles.
Central's second year tutor Linda Moran then spoke about pointe progression, demonstrating some basic exercises for new pointe students. She suggested rises, courus and little marches in parallel, combined with strong demi-plies and steps up to pointe. Commencing in parallel position enables students to focus on posture and 'pulling up' the legs and feet without worrying about turn-out. She also recommended that students regularly practice balancing on demi-pointe in their daily life, holding the ankle and posture as strongly as possible to develop strength. The second years at Central do this while brushing their teeth!
This was a very enjoyable and informative day at Central School of Ballet and I hope similar future events will be arranged.