In Part 1 of this series, I focused on choices outweighing talents. If you missed Part 1, check it out here. In today’s post, I have found another great Harry Potter quote that relates to aerial teaching.
“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both influencing injury, and remedying it.” ~ Dumbledore, The Deathly Hallows
Great news…we are all capable of a little magic! While the quote refers to words of encouragement or support, I will focus on a slightly different interpretation.
Words can become “magic cues.”
A magic cue is a word, phrase, or image that makes sense to a lot of people and produces the movement you are aiming for. Phrases like “float the foot” and “hug the fabric” not only clarify directions, but they also make a class more colorful.
Peggy Hackney (dancer and somatics educator) writes that images organize the body/mind more clearly toward an intention than focusing on engaging individual muscles.* So, painting a picture with words is a powerful teaching tool.
While I know there isn’t one best cue for every learner, it is good to note which cues have a strong success rate so you can keep them handy.
I also like to stockpile images to help me work with many different learners. It’s particularly useful when working with beginners from different backgrounds, and it makes teaching more interesting for the instructor!
When searching for “magic cues,” I think of the most common mistakes made in an aerial class and work from there. I remember the special words or phrases that helped me learn those skills.
I also consider other movement methods like dance, rock climbing, and acrobatics to find links that can cross over into the aerial world.
Then I visualize the exact direction, quality, and timing of the movement to select the best images. Testing them out to see what works (with an eye to safety, of course) completes the process. To take this a bit further:
Combine several images to create a story.
People love stories because they are memorable. And what better way to remember a series of steps than to add a little fun? I have a great cowboy/girl story for tying the stirrup foot lock, and it definitely reflects my playful teaching style.
Keep collecting those magic words to help your students progress, and then share them with the community. What are your favorite “magic cues” or metaphors for aerial skills teaching? Let us know in the comment section below.
*Peggy Hackney is co-founder of Integrated Movement Studies and author of Making Connections: Total Body Integration Through Bartenieff Fundamentals.
About the Author: Julianna Hane traded life on a cotton farm to become a dancer and aerialist. She is the author of the Aerial Teacher's Handbook and Director of Training for Born to Fly Productions.
The magic cue that's become super useful for me is calling a sine wrap and/or a wrap that goes high around the thigh, especially in hip key, "the baywatch." I had taken the original cue from Kerri Kresinski I think, to "put on tight underwear" to explain placement of the wrap. My very first cohort of students decided this looked more like the leg line of a baywatch bathing suit, and voila.
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