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Contributor: Alissa Zumer, Tumbl Trak Sales Associate & Dance Teacher
The dance world is always changing and evolving and good dance teachers must change and evolve with it.
I’ve been teaching acro/gymnastics for many years and now more than ever, acro has become a staple in dance performances. Being trained as a gymnast my whole life has made incorporating gymnastics into dance challenging in many aspects. The term “acro dance” has become more and more common in the dance world which is why I’ve transitioned my lesson plans and teaching methods to an acrobatic approach rather than gymnastics.
When you think about education opportunities for gymnastics instructors, there’s a couple certification courses that come to mind; TumbleBears, USA Gymnastics, etc. However, those courses are not geared toward dance. Certifications for dance, like Dance Masters, are not geared towards gymnastics or acro skills either. So where do we go to get training and certification specifically for acro that incorporates both aspects?
Acrobatic Arts is a training program for both teachers and dancers that seamlessly fuses the art of dance and gymnastics together. I had the pleasure of attending the module one certification for teachers at Central City Dance in Canton, Michigan and was blown away!
The attention that is paid to safety in the dance studio is unlike any program I have ever used before. So much consideration is given to the dancer and instructor alike. The course emphasized safe spotting, stretching and how to give your students an effective and safe workout. The Acrobatic Arts syllabus stresses the importance of moving though progressions in order to obtain solid results. Too often, students come into the studio with the hopes of “throwing a back handspring” on the first day which is not realistic, or safe, considering they often times are unable to even hold a handstand.
Seamless transitions from one skill to the next are something that was also stressed in this course. For lyrical and contemporary dancers this is so important; to know what to do with your body to seamlessly transition into your next movement or dance element in the routine. This is what sets apart a gymnastics routine from an acro dance routine.
In gymnastics, tumbling skills are organized in connected series, or passes that work across the floor or beam. In dance choreography, acro skills are intertwined with different entry and exit skills. A typical acro dance pass may be: chasse, step hop, retire round off, back handspring to pirouette finish. In gymnastics, we tend to have passes that are a series of tumbling skills, like: setup, running round off, back handspring, finish. In acro dance this same pass can become: chasse step hop retire round off, back handspring stepout pirouette (or whatever element the choreography dictates). Acro dance puts gymnastics elements into dance in a seamless, fluid fashion rather than a powerful series of skills.. Coming from a gymnastics background; I have struggled with this transition. This conference has helped me understand that acro is different from gymnastics and how to incorporate this into my choreography.
Certification through Acrobatic Arts was money well spent and I would highly recommend it to any dance teacher at any training level. It gave me many resources and tips to use in my class that I never would have thought about before. I feel much more confident in my teaching and my ability to help my students progress safely after leaving the two day certification.
If you are a gymnastics teacher who wants to learn more about teaching dance, or a dance instructor who is interested in learning more about acro, I'm happy to help. Feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org