Dance Teacher Resources

Advanced Teaching Methods for Posture and Pirouettes

Biomechanics educator Sophie Louise Briggs. Photo by Suzy Cooper.
Biomechanics educator Sophie Louise Briggs. Photo by Suzy Cooper.

Posture and Pirouettes: Cueing the dancer is one of a series of workshops run by biomechanics educators Bea Glendenning and Sophie Louise Briggs. During their workshops, Glendenning and Briggs expertly guide participants through experiential anatomy and movement exercises, drawing on insights from the Franklin Method, to refine dance technique and teaching skills. 

Biomechanics educators Bea Glendenning and Sophie Louise Briggs. Photo by Suzy Cooper.

Biomechanics educators Bea Glendenning and Sophie Louise Briggs. Photo by Suzy Cooper.

The Franklin Method is an experiential human anatomy study developed by Eric Franklin to create ease and efficiency in movement. It draws on and integrates insights from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s Body Mind Centring, Ideokinesis and other somatic movement modalities.  

Franklin was a dancer, so the Franklin Method’s first, and most widely used application, is in dance. Franklin teaches in major dance companies across Europe, as well as at the Julliard School in New York. The method is also gaining wider use and creditability across all forms of human movement and performance. 

Former elite mogul skier, and Franklin Method educator, Glendenning brings her training in educational psychology and elite sport to her approaches assisting people to move with ease and efficiency. Briggs is an ex-dancer and aerial performer, who brings a Pilates and expert dance teaching perspective to her approach to movement training.  

During the workshop, Glendenning and Briggs led sections based on their expertise – Glendenning in experiential anatomy and dynamic imagery, and Briggs in linking the experiential anatomy to dance technique. The results in the participants were outstanding: less pain, more mobility, less effort, more function and more precision. 

The workshop considered posture, foot alignment, shoulder girdle alignment and how these relate to turning in dance. Glendenning’s approach included manipulating or palpating limbs to create proprioceptive feedback, and using detailed dynamic imagery to create awareness of three-dimensional anatomy and increase potential in stillness and movement. Each segment of experiential anatomy was integrated into technical experimentation to explore cueing for teaching. The cueing was primarily for pirouettes but integrated many aspects of technique dance training. The workshop included many novel cueing approaches, and yet Briggs remarked at one point, “The cue is not the goal. The outcome is the goal. If the cue doesn’t work, find other cues.”

Bea Glendenning instructing. Photo by Suzy Cooper.

Bea Glendenning instructing. Photo by Suzy Cooper.

The Franklin Method taught this way has clear potential to transform awareness and perception of movement and anatomy, maximise function and minimize injury. It has applications in all human movement disciplines and practices from the athlete to the civilian walking, from injury prevention to maximising economical function and energy use. It is astounding that it is not more widely taught in dance training. Perhaps the Franklin Method heralds a revolution in dance training that will create more intelligent teachers and dancers. 

Glendenning’s next workshop is on foot function on 17 June at The Space in Prahran. Posture and Pirouettes will run again on 12 August. For Melbourne teachers, it is a great way to refresh your teaching methods. 

Find out more about Bea Glendenning and Sophie Louise Briggs at www.icanmove.com.auFind out more about The Franklin Method at www.franklinmethod.com.

By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.

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