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Posts Tagged ‘dance tricks’

6 Tips for Improving Your Dance Jumps

While jumping is essential for many athletes, dancers are among the select few that make it look graceful.

Adding gracefulness and increasing the heights of your jumps isn’t something that just comes naturally. These things are earned during late-night practices, early morning lessons, and countless hours of warm-ups. Dancers are constantly striving to achieve the look of effortlessness in their jumps; however, it can only be taught and maintained through countless hours of practice.

Luckily jumps are one of those things that we can always work to improve. Keep reading for six tips for improving your dance jumps.

Stretch properly.

Like any rigorous physical activity, start with warm-ups and stretches. Stretch every day to make sure your leg muscles are ready for the intensive work to follow. The second stage of your stretching action is stretching for a split. What you would do mid-air one day, try and work on it while you are on the ground.

Flexibility is crucial, but there is more to it. You need strength and lots of control, too. Good core strength and alignment are critical.

In addition to stretching and warming up the muscles, it is important that you do not overstretch before jumping and leaping. You want to stretch just enough to get the blood circulating through the muscles. We like to add strengthening exercises to our warm-up to help wake the body up and then re-stretch at the end of a class. Deep stretching is most productive when done at the end of a rigorous dance class.

Visualize.

While stretching, envision how you want your leaps to look. Having a mental picture of your jump will allow you to calibrate the energy you need to execute it.

Believe it or not, positive imagery and positive self-talk do wonders for performance. Find a relaxing place and close your eyes. Envision yourself leaping through the air—concentrate on your take-off, arm and leg position, and of course, the landing.

Videotape yourself.

Use today’s modern technology to your advantage! Dancers can benefit significantly from things such as slow-motion videos. Before you start working on increasing the height of your jumps, take time to videotape yourself.

When going over the video, focus on your take-off and the position of your torso. Once reviewing the video, determine the part of the leap you would like to focus your energy on.

Involve your whole body.

It is essential to recognize that leaps and jumps require more than just leg strength. While leaping, focus on where your eye focus is. Instead of looking straight-forward, slightly angle your head and focus upward. In addition, you must utilize your core. Also, be conscious of your arm position.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your arms straight?
  • Are your shoulders relaxed and pulled down?
  • Is your torso upright?
  • Are your toes pointed?

The more you focus on these things during warm-ups and practices, the more they will become second nature for you during your actual performances.

Focus on a deep plié.

A deep plié is critical for achieving the height you need to execute a leap properly. A plié is simply a deep knee bend and is the last step you take before leaving the ground. The deeper the plié, the more power you will have in your legs to push off.

No matter how many steps you take to prepare for the leap, make sure to bend your knees to obtain as much power as you need to get high into the air and try not to lean forward.

Stick your landing.

A beautiful leap is not complete until it is landed safely. Your goal for the landing will be to hit the floor as softly and quietly as possible. Never come out of a leap with straight knees, as doing so will almost always cause an injury.

You should begin thinking about your landing as soon as your feet leave the ground. Mentally preparing your legs to absorb your weight will really make a tremendous difference.

Whether a dancer wants to deepen a plié, perfect a front walkover, or bring their jumps to new heights, we have all the tools to ensure you reach your goals!

We consistently work with our dancers through conditioning and technique classes to encourage optimal dance success! Contact the dance experts at Evolution Dance Complex today to find out more!

Photo Feature: Mia Snyder (Dancer/Model)

6 Steps to a Front Walkover

A well-rounded dancer must perform a wide array of athletic tricks that can take choreography to another level.

These can include cartwheels, back walkovers, ariels, needles, back tucks, and more. One elemental maneuver that should be in every dancer’s toolbox is the front walkover.

If you are ready to add this move to your repertoire, keep reading for six steps to mastering a front walkover.

What is a front walkover?

To learn how to perform a front walkover, it’s important to fully understand what it is. A front walkover is an acrobatic maneuver that involves lifting a leg above the torso in a back-bridge position. The legs then fully rotate so the dancer both starts and finishes in an upright standing position.

The front walkover resembles a fusion of a cartwheel, a handstand, and a round-off. But it is definitely its own unique maneuver that utilizes a comprehensive set of skills.

Work on your flexibility. 

Before beginning to master this new move, ensure you are working to improve flexibility. Doing a front walkover requires a lot of flexibility in your back, legs, and core. If you improve your whole body’s strength and flexibility, you will have an easier time completing this exercise.

Stretch properly.

Movements like the front walkover can put a lot of strain on your shoulders, wrists, and back, so it’s a good idea to stretch before beginning. Following a light warm-up, loosen up those muscles and joints. Some examples of good stretch’s include:

  • Raise both arms high, then reach across your body as you lean from side to side at the waist.
  • Lie face down on the floor and push your torso up and back to limber up your lower back. Flex both wrists to get them ready to hold you up.
  • Sit on the floor with your back straight and centered. Extend your legs outward as wide as you can. Carefully rotate your torso towards the right then move your torso over your right leg. Remember to breathe and go slow.

Never neglect your warm-up and stretching routine. You’re at a much higher risk of injury if you force your body to perform intricate movements before it’s ready.

Ensure to follow safety procedures. 

Set up a private lesson with a dance instructor, to be your spotter, as you work on any challenging new skills. A spotter can support your weight and help guide you as you run through the movements, which lets you focus on your technique.

In addition to a spotter, grab some padded mats. Mats and protective surfaces will help prevent injury in case you land incorrectly. They will also take away some fear, which might be holding you back. Once you get more comfortable with the skill, you can slowly build up the courage to do it without pads, or a spotter.

Break it down.

You can break the front walkover down into other more straightforward exercises that you can master before trying the full skill. They include:

  • A well-controlled handstand is a setup for the front walkover. So, it will be beneficial to make sure you have it down first.
  • The bridge and backbend translate perfectly to the second part of the walkover. Lying on your back with your hands and feet planted firmly on the ground beneath you, press up so that your body forms an arch. Support yourself by keeping your arms and legs straight and strong. 
  • Master your cartwheel to get used to the action of kicking up to your hands, which will carry you over when doing the walkover. Set your hands down on the floor one after the other as you swing your back leg up. Drive through with your kicking leg to lift yourself into an inverted position, then rotate around and set it back down, followed by your opposite leg.

Get into position. 

To do a front walkover, you need to stand as if you are going into a handstand. Put your legs in a split position. Start with whichever leg is more natural for you.

Then kick your back leg up into the air. As your first leg is approaching a vertical position, kick your other leg up into the air. Move your weight to your arms and shoulders.

[Want to know more about what’s it’s like to be a competitive dancer? Click here!]

Stick the landing.

Shift your weight back to your leading leg as it touches down. Then, push off the ground with your hands. You should end in the same position you started in. Make sure that you plant your feet as you land. Keep your arms flexed as you stick that landing.

Make sure you stay using the proper form throughout the whole movement. You should press your hips forward and ensure that you don’t stand up too fast.

Other important tips.

  • Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t inhibit your movement.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Improve your conditioning and overcome your fear of being upside down by spending a little bit longer in your handstand and bridge each time.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you’re not progressing as fast as you’d like. A positive mind frame is a huge part of being a strong dancer.
  • After you perfect your front walkover, use your understanding of the technique to start working on more difficult skills.

Most importantly, don’t overthink it, be patient, and have fun! Want to master the front walkover and other essential dance tricks? Take your talent to the next level with Evolution Dance Complex. Contact us today about our company teams or recreational dance classes!

 

Photo Feature- Noel Gockerell (Dancer/Model)

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