New training structure
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
At last we come to the structure of the dance training redesigned for video conferencing in its different phases.
I have tried to build a simple format with a clear structure and interchangeable elements, in order to create a strong and flexible tool that can be easily adapted to different types of dance training.
- Welcoming participants (5 minutes).
As an organiser/trainer, it is important to be the first to open the meeting room, at least 15 minutes before the official start, to check that everything is in place and to give participants who want to enter earlier a chance to do it.
Especially if you have chosen the waiting room option, a security option that we recommend to control the flow of participants. Making them wait, apart from being a formal lack of politeness, could represent a source of unreliability for participants, who might doubt that they have made any mistakes in connecting. This ensures professionalism and a sense of welcome among participants.
In a virtual environment, it is important to personally greet participants entering the conference room as if they were visiting us. This serves both to prepare a good working environment and to give newcomers a chance to check whether the software tools are working. This is also the time to communicate information about the course and to find out if everyone is OK, or has any problems with the software, if they have any discomfort or physical injuries, if they have to finish their dance classes early or anything else ...
If you expect latecomers, be clear about how long you want to wait. Remember that the participants are all at home and the temptation to go to the bathroom, get coffee, brush their teeth, make the bed or communicate some last thing to their partner, daughter or whoever, is great. Be present without necessarily being persistent. But always be clear in your communication.
In the last few Zoom sessions I have created real welcoming environments where participants were greeted by background music and depending on the type of lesson by images with written messages or by my presence while preparing the room.
Being welcomed in an environment that has just been prepared for the occasion produces a sense of participation and relaxation. He calms down the latecomers and praises the punctual ones by giving them a few more minutes to check if everything is OK.
- Practical and theoretical knowledge (15 to 30 minutes).
Almost from the beginning, I have used the first few minutes of the lesson to explain my intentions and sometimes I have used this time to give some in-depth explanations of the exercises from the previous lesson.
Over time, I have refined my tools by creating an actual training session, lasting up to 30 minutes, in which I select some topics to deepen and explore together with the students, both theoretical and practical.
The theoretical topics covered are:
- Applied Anatomy;
- Some basic principles of training with the reading of some articles from sport science, dance science and medicine applied to sport and dance;
- theories of choreographic composition;
- common reflections on the means of communication used.
- Presentation and details of some exercises performed during the class;
- Clarification and deepening of the exercises from the previous training;
- Explanation of new stretching or breathing techniques...
- Warm-up (10-15 minutes)
A warm-up is a workout for the fitness of the body. It serves to prepare the body for the exercises to come.
A warm-up is designed to make muscles and tendons more elastic, increase blood flow to the periphery, raise body temperature and promote free and coordinated movement.
(1, 2, 3).
As early as 2002, Young & Behm postulated these contents for a useful warm-up:
An aerobic component of relatively low intensity that is general in nature, such as sub-maximal running.
Some stretching of the specific muscles involved in the following activity.
Repetition of the skill to be performed.(4)
A proper warm-up is the basis for successful training and prevents potential accidents.
Warm-up elements I have used in my online dance classes
The feet are located in important neural receptors, the stimulation of which not only has a positive effect on the whole body, but also increases the ability to balance and perform complex and precise movements in space. Moshe Feldenkrais developed numerous exercises in his method to mobilise this part of the body. Inspired by his work, I have developed 5 very effective exercises involving full mobilisation of the foot and ankle. These use:
- DORSIFLESSION: movement of the foot bringing the toes closer to the tibia - EVERSION: rotation of the sole of the foot outwards - EXTENSION: straightening of a joint so that two bones move further apart - FLEXION: bending.
And finally CIRCONDUCTION of the whole sole of the foot both from the outside towards the inside rotation and vice versa external rotation, incorporating all the movements of the ankle joints and also acting on the femur joint.
This is just one example to start a good warm-up from the bottom up. I encourage this approach for professionals, who often suffer from a reduction in the mobility of their feet due to intense muscular activity in the ankle and foot, as well as for beginners, who often use their feet without articulating them and who too often wear incorrect footwear for too long during the day. In addition, it is an easy exercise to perform and it awakens the whole perception of the body, even if it is not masterfully done. Often during video conferences I have produced close-ups of my own feet during the exercise to better define its effectiveness.
There are many other foot exercises that work well for both face-to-face training and online classes, for example those for the plantar vault, which is a set of three arches: the medial longitudinal arch (Fig.1 No.1), the lateral longitudinal arch (Fig.1 No.2), the proximal transverse arch (Fig.1 No.3) and the distal transverse arch (Fig.1 No.4).
All the arches can vary their curvature according to their elasticity, and incorrect changes in the arch can lead to problems with the knees, pelvis, spine and posture.
All exercises involving curling , bending, wiggling or spreading the toes belong to this category. (Fig.2)
including ball exercises.
"The intention of this phase is to focus on the range of motion available for a particular joint (...)." (Quin, Rafferty & Tomlinson, 2015, p. 58)
The joints are the part of our body that allows the solid structure, the bones, to interact with the dynamic structure, the muscles, so that we can perform any kind of action in space. Inside the joints are cartilages, connective tissues that act as shock absorbers, protecting the bones and allowing them to act while minimising friction.
For this part of the warm-up, I developed several sets of verbally guided exercises. One of the most used was the joint concert. The exercise in its original form, I learned from Judith-Elise Kaufmann, an international teacher of dance pedagogy and dance medicine. In my classes I have used it in its original form, as well as elaborated and changed in some of its dynamics, to make it closer to my own working style. It consists of moving the joints in sequence while working on motor coordination. The exercise starts from a supine position on the floor, in some of my variations I let the students choose between other positions, especially for some disabled participants.
The trainees are asked to start mobilising the joints, starting with the smallest and without stopping moving them, adding new ones until all the joints of the body are mobilised, creating a concert-like movement.
The beauty of this exercise resides in its completeness and richness despite its simplicity of execution.
This exercise not only activates the joints and stimulates the cartilages, but also allows the person to move their body freely in space without any further instructions.
I would like to thank Judith-Elise wholeheartedly for showing and teaching me this fantastic exercise, which has enabled me to create new ones and enrich my repertoire.
Roll-down mobility of the spine.
This is one of the most important exercises for stimulating the mobility of the entire skeletal structure, because most of the nerve receptors pass through the vertebrae. The sympathetic nervous system is significantly awakened when mobilising the spine.
In addition, this bone structure connects the most important and heaviest parts of our body, the head and pelvis, and it is therefore essential to safeguard and encourage its mobility, elasticity and strength so that the body can move freely in space.
Movements in the planes of space
The movements of the spinal column develop within different planes and axes:
Sagittal axis (given by the intersection of the sagittal and transverse planes) abduction and adduction movements;
Transverse axis (given by the intersection of the frontal and transverse planes) flexion-extension movements;
Vertical axis (given by the meeting of the frontal and sagittal planes) torsion movements in reference to the spine and rotation in reference to the limbs;
The overall movement of the vertebral column results from the combination of the small movements of the vertebrae that add up to one another, which is of course also possible through the movement of the pelvis and lower limb. The movement of each vertebra can be broken down into translations and rotations. The translations and rotations cease when antagonistic movements equal to the motor movements develop.
But ultimately we can define the following movements:
Flexion-extension in the sagittal plane
Inclination or side bending in the frontal plane
Rotation in the transverse plane
Types of movement
The movements that occur along the planes of space are represented by:
Tilting or Side;
During flexion: Advancing and descending on the upper vertebra, the space between the 2 vertebral bodies decreases anteriorly and increases posteriorly. The facet joints move apart (divergence), the fibrocartilage disc is crushed anteriorly and the nucleus pulposus, contained within it, is pushed posteriorly;
During extension: Reverse procedure to flexion. The facet joints come closer together (convergence), the fibrocartilage disc is crushed posteriorly and the nucleus pulposus, contained within it, is pushed anteriorly.
NB: in flexion the intervertebral holes increase in diameter, in extension they decrease.
The spinal column never makes pure movements. The movements are always compound, this is done to preserve the structure itself. They occur because you need to have an escape route to preserve the structure. A pure tilt would lead to excessive tension in the muscular-ligamentous compartment contralateral to the tilt. The inclination movement of the spine always occurs with rotation and vice versa. The tilt is guided by the facet joints.
Pure lumbar tilt is impossible, in right tilt the right facet joint approaches the underlying facet joint in convergence and the left facet joint moves away in divergence.
In pure lumbar rotation, the minimal space between the facet joints, which in the resting situation are between convergence and divergence, is used.
For the tilt, therefore, the 2 movements must be merged, the tilt being accompanied by a rotation in the opposite direction.
Movements of the spinal column segments
Lumbar: Favoured movements of flexion-extension, due to the conformation of the articular faces placed on a para-sagittal plane. Limited rotation, about 1° per vertebra. Side bending movements are a middle way between rotation and flexion-extension;
Dorsal: Presents flexion-extension, rotation and Side Bending movements limited in amplitude due to the presence of the thoracic cage anterior to the ribs. The facet joints are arranged in a para-frontal plane;
Cervical: Rotation and high amplitude movements. Facet joints are arranged in a para-transverse plane, however, they have an inclination. We start from 10° in the cervical seventh to 45° in the atlas. From the arrangement of the facet joints it follows that an inclination is followed by a rotation on the same side, this is due to the presence of the hooked processes present on the vertebrae that are inserted at the base of the vertebrae above;
Through the precise positioning of the hips, knees and ankles in the plié, i.e. during the bending of the knees and the subsequent basculation of the pelvic structure, we will strengthen the muscles of the legs and feet and increase stability.
Through extension and contraction of the quadriceps femoris we can move through space from a standing position.
In spite of the limited space available, I have created specific sliding exercises (Pas glissade) on the sagital and coronal axis to create dynamic pliés and thus also train the Hamstrings muscular band, the adductor longus and the gracilis.
This is one of the most important aspects of a good warm-up. Allowing the body to enter the aerobic energy production system helps us to maintain good body and organ fitness, which is why cardio exercise is one of the most important parts of our warm-up. Especially since this type of exercise does not require much space.
In the next Warm-up we will continue with the description of the new dance class structure for online lessons with the following themes:
Promotion of biomotor skills (15 minutes)
Room Perception Exercise (15 minutes)
Structured Improvisation (20 minutes)
Warm-down (5 minutes)