January 2017 | Collective Wisdom

Collective Wisdom: Ideas and advice from our readers

Classroom Connection: Resistance Band Exercises

Consider integrating stretch/resistance band exercises into pointe and pre-pointe classes to strengthen dancers’ feet and ankles.

For the following exercises, instruct students to hold the band by the ends, one end in each hand. Place the band around the ball and toes of the right foot. Begin with legs in parallel and the working foot in an upward flexed position. All movements should be done slowly and with control.

Foot flexion: Stretch through the ankle and ball of the foot (demi-pointe) to a full point; roll back through demi to the starting position. Check that students are not sickling the foot, and that the ankle stays aligned with the knee. Do 16 repetitions; repeat on the left. (Students can also do this exercise while lying on their backs with the leg lifted at 90 degrees or greater, which will stretch the hamstring as well as strengthen the foot, ankle, and calf.)

Toe curls: Begin as above, but stop and hold at the demi-pointe position. The foot is now pointed but the toes are not. Point and flex only the toes, keeping the foot stretched. Watch that students keep the leg lengthened and do not bend the knee. Do 10 reps for each foot.

Ankle inversion/eversion: Turn the foot in (inversion) and return to parallel. Check that students move only the ankle, keeping the working leg and hip still to avoid any rotation. Turn the foot out (eversion) and return to parallel. Do 16 repetitions (each consisting of an inversion followed by an eversion), then repeat with the other foot.

For added resistance, when inverting the right foot, hold both ends of the band in the left hand, place the left foot on top of the band, and gently pull to the right side. For right-foot eversions, keep the left foot on top of the band and gently pull the band to the left. For the left foot, hold both ends of the band in the right hand, place the right foot on top of the band, and gently pull to the left for inversions and to the right for eversions.

Wings: Wrap the band behind both feet; cross the band once so that it forms an X. With pointed, parallel feet, and heels touching, gently pulse the feet out to a “wing” (semi-everted) position and return. Keep legs parallel—all movement should come from the ankle.

—Debra Danese

Reality Check: Communication Challenge

Q. I’m looking for ideas that will help multiple front desk staffers handle office communication more effectively. Example: Suzy’s mom calls about registration. One staffer calls back and leaves a message—which is noted in the message book—but no one follows up or calls the mom again. Does anyone have a solution? —Neala Dunn

A. Assign someone to go through the message book daily and circle back to unfinished business, which gets carried over every day until it is finished. Whoever has the job of overseeing unfinished business can follow through or redirect to the person who initiated the contact. I also go through and highlight clients who still need to be called. Finished business gets a giant check in the message book—but just leaving another message does not get a check. —Teri Mangiaratti

A. I started a studio email log, which is reviewed daily. Each studio concierge (I have three desk staffers assigned to specific tasks) can see what has happened and what still needs to happen. For inquiries, we use a form called “Let’s Connect,” which is dated and initialed when a potential client makes contact, highlighted when that potential client’s contact information is added to Constant Contact, then filed under “Need to call” or “Coming to try class.” —June Lawrence

A. On trello.com you can set up a day-by-day, cloud-based message board. Unfinished items can be moved to the next day. Everyone can sign in with their email address and make comments on what was done or not done. You can assign tasks to a person, leave comments, and check the status of each project from home. —Nancy K. Dennis

A. Basecamp.com is a great cloud-based project management tool with many options and notifications. —Trish Mann

A. We have a message book. I try to keep the process very simple: I remind staff to follow up until they do it on their own, and I point out when mishaps occur. That’s the best way for them to learn the responsibility. —Dori Matkowski