DT on Dance Moms: The Cheerleaders Win Brooke
January 25, 2012

To kick of the 3rd episode, Brooke was conveniently placed at the top of the pyramid. “Conveniently,” because it made for really great TV drama when she left the team in the middle of rehearsals for that week’s competition in New Jersey.


Brooke’s been over the dance company since early last season; who can blame her? She’s the only 13-year-old, dancing with girls who are a good five years younger. Thankfully, in the non-reality show world, there are options for teens, like Brooke, who love dance, but also want to be active in their own high schools and social scenes. At your studio, how many options do you give your teens? Do you separate the recreational dancers from the intensely serious students? Do all students perform? Are there options for your recreational dancers to compete? How do you navigate this topic? Let’s get sharing! Let us know on Dance Teacher’s Facebook page.


Now, let’s talk technique:


It’s clear from the amount of dance footage on the show that the girls—especially Chloe and Maddie—are seriously, seriously talented. That being said, one thing I’ve noticed is that when on demi-pointe, they aren’t all the way up. And this problem isn’t specific to Maddie or Chloe, it’s a technique flaw I see everywhere. (As a dancer myself, I’m not confident that I ever really mastered the relevé, and it totally hindered my success—or should I say, lack of success—on pointe.)


Not having a high relevé isn’t all about ankle flexibility. It’s about pushing down through the floor and really using one’s core, under-butt and those miniscule rotator muscles to lift out of the ankles and really relevé. When all the upper leg muscles are working properly, there won’t be the problem of having bent legs on demi-pointe—it’s not even an option.


That being said, this is an extremely difficult technical concept to get across to a dancer who’s about only 8 or 9-years-old. So how do you convey this idea? What is the imagery you use? Do you try to explain it to a young dancer, or do you wait until she’s old enough to understand? How do you get your youngest students to really relevé, enough to be prepared for pointe work? I’m sure this is a topic we all probably face as teachers—I know I do. So what works for you? Click here to share your ideas.

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