September 19, 2008

Dancing Smart Newsletter

Hello all!

I am including information about Lisa Howell's workshops that will be happening this October! She is a wonderful resource to dancers, dance teachers and dance medicine specialist. She is a physiotherapist who resides in Australia and is coming to the US for a visit. She will be at Oberlin College on October 18th and 19th. That's listed as the Cleveland workshop. I have included her email in this post after our question.

Question of the week...
I am 13 yrs. old and i have been having problems with my knee. I have pain under my knee cap and sometimes it get to the point where it hurts to walk. (It also hurts to walk up and down stairs and especially if I go into a deep pliƩ or a grand pliƩ) I am a very very active dancer and I would like to know what is wrong with my knee. I just went to the doctor two days ago and they said I should stay take about 5 days off of dance and take the anti-inflammatory medicine they prescribed for me, but as the days go on it doesn't seem to be getting any better. I really hope you can tell me a way to help heal my knee so I can start dancing again. Thank you so much for all your help.

Dear Mariah,
I would first say to follow your doctor's advice, and take the time off from dance - and take the medication to reduce any swelling. If you are having pain while walking or climbing stairs, you certainly shouldn't be in dance class until you can do daily movements without pain.

That being said, once your pain is better you've got to figure out why it started hurting. Have you gone through a recent growth spurt? Bones grow faster than muscles, and knees are often a place that feel those 'growing pains'.

Was their a change in activity prior to your knee hurting? Did you start a new technique class, or start with a new teacher, or just come off summer vacation? It can be a real shock to the body when you are off from dance for a while, and then jump in and start taking daily classes.

What's your turnout like? Is the knee that hurts on the side that has less turnout? Often our turnout is unequal and we compensate by rotating the foot out farther on the side that has less turnout at the hip, and then we put a twist at the knee.

It's also possible that a piece of cartilage got irritated for some reason that will remain unknown - and - by taking care of it, you will be back to dancing in no time at all. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Continue to ice, rest it, and follow your doctor's suggestions. It's possible that he will put you in physical therapy next so you will be guided in correcting any imbalances of muscle strength and flexibility.


Email from Lisa Howell.......

I am delighted to announce that I will be commencing a short series of workshops designed for young dancers and dance teachers in Cincinnati, Cleveland and New York City this Fall. I am in America to present at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) Conference in Cleveland, after winning an award for "The Greatest Contribution to Dance Medicine" at the 2007 Conference.

This is an experience not to be missed, as it provides a different approach to many of the ways dance students are trained in class. Workshops are limited to just 20 participants to allow maximum contact with each student, so get in early to secure your place. Courses run from 13th -16th October in Cincinnati, 18th and 19th October in Cleveland, and 29th and 30th of October in New York City.

I am passionate about the education of dancers; not only to prevent injury, but to extend the boundaries of what each dancer believes is possible. I have done this in some way with our site however, the information that I share online is merely the tip of the iceberg.

I have developed several other programs that are changing the way that dance is taught in many centers. My unique way of combining medical knowledge into a usable form in the studio has allowed teachers all over the world to increase the safely of their classes, while young dancers improve their technique and performance quality. I have run these workshops many times throughout Australia and feel that they are a wonderful way to spread my knowledge further.

The workshops give a fresh approach for young dancers to really learn about their own bodies. They incorporate basic anatomy, safe dance techniques, self treatment strategies and special exercises not normally taught in class. Students leave inspired and empowered, eager to get back into class to use all of their new skills! Teachers often comment that the students are much more focused after attending these sessions, and are much easier to work with in class.

In this series of workshops I also introduce my unique "Front Splits Fast Flexibility Program". This system is like no other program currently in dance schools, as it employs concepts and techniques based on mobilizing the nerves and fascia in the body, rather than stretching muscles. Every student and teacher alike who has participated in this workshop has been astounded at the ease of releasing tension in their body with simple to use techniques, and excited at the possibilities this opens up for them in their training. This program is not available for purchase online at present, and is only available at the courses, with each attendee receiving a dvd as well as a full instruction manual.

The Original 'Perfect Pointe Book' has been developed into a two hour workshop, and again each participant receives a manual and dvd of the program. It takes the girls systematically though a series of tests and exercises, organized into four easy stages, and is rapidly changing the way that the worldwide dance community approaches pointe work. The sequel, "Advanced Foot Control For Dancers" is a progression from the initial resource, and begins to teach older students more detailed anatomy of their feet, along with specific strengthening and massage techniques to accelerate their dancing, and allow optimum recovery from injury.

The workshop series also presents, for the first time, "The Perfect Pointe System," a four hour workshop just for dance teachers, allowing them to learn the finer details of assessing exactly when young students are ready for the progression to toe shoes. It is one thing to know how to teach girls to dance. It is completely something else to know exactly how to test for specific weaknesses that may limit a child en pointe and what to do about those weaknesses. I was devastated when I learnt that dance teachers were not taught this in their formal training, as it is imperative to the health and longevity of their feet, and therefore, their career. I simply had to create these resources to get this kind of specialist information out where it is needed most.

For further information on any of the courses please visit the site at or click here to go directly to the page:

Courses run from 13th -16th October in Cincinnati, 18th and 19th October in Cleveland, and 29th and 30th of October in New York City. All enrollments must be processed by 1st October 2008 to allow printing of all course manuals and dvd's.

This is an experience not to be missed! It is a great chance for your daughter or son to get inspired and educated in a really fun way!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions, and I look forward to seeing you and yours at the workshops!

Kindest Regards,

Lisa Howell