Dance, although a form of artistic expression, is first and foremost a sport.
A sport that requires physical preparation before you start.
Your muscles must be warmed up in order to work properly and to avoid damaging them. But preparation also involves stretching or relaxation exercises.
The environment in which you train is also important. Put yourself in the optimal conditions by choosing the right place, a good outfit, and why not good music too.
So sit an exam, master the splits, do relaxation exercises, what must you do to be ready to dance?
It is impossible to start a sports session and in turn a dance class without having done some stretching beforehand. This can cause injuries that are difficult to treat down the road.
Dance stretches allow muscles to warm up and relax. A step which is even more crucial if you want to progress in this discipline as quickly as possible.
To start the warm-up, get yourself ready!
This begins with the outfit you will wear throughout the session. Choose soft and elastic clothing to be able to move freely.
Your environment is also very important to ensure you are stretching in the best conditions. If you do not have room at home, go to a park or gym.
Once you are ready to go, which muscles do you stretch?
Answer: the whole body!
Even if in dance, some muscles are more worked than others such as the hamstrings or the psoas, the whole body is used to perform choreographies.
So think about stretching the shoulders, neck, back, pelvis, knees, ankles, wrists, etc.
Remember the importance of stretching! Source: Visual Hunt
Simple exercises can effectively stretch all these parts of the body. Remember your P.E. lessons at school.
For example, you can try to touch your toes without bending your knees or doing the splits. For the neck, wrists, and ankles, bend them gently.
All of these exercises should take you about 10 to 15 minutes. It may take longer for professional dancers who take the time to work each muscle.
And even if you are not a professional, or at least not yet, don’t be afraid to take your time warming up. This helps not to over-stress the muscles.
In addition, the warm-up will also allow you to relax and unwind after a busy day at work.
In dancers, there is one quality which is particularly sought after; flexibility.
To make a big difference, to strengthen your legs, and move with grace, you have to find the right balance between bodybuilding and flexibility.
Relaxing can have many benefits.
Not only can this help you in your career as a professional dancer, but it also has benefits for your health.
Especially people working in offices are advised to do regular flexibility exercises, even if it’s just from their desks.
Working muscles and joints helps to feel better overall and prevent future health problems.
Going up the stairs, gardening, hiking, everything becomes easier when you gain flexibility. Your muscles are more active and in shape.
So for your career or just for your health, relaxation exercises are always a good idea.
In dance, some parts of the body are more important to work than others, for example, your back or your legs. It’s these parts in particular which make it possible to do the splits if they are flexible enough.
Becoming flexible is useful for all dances. Source: Visual Hunt
And to improve flexibility, what could be better than yoga?
Yoga is often used to relax and learn how to live in the moment. But it is also well known that yoga allows you to perform quite crazy positions that require a lot of flexibility.
As you progress in this discipline, you will also become more flexible.
Yoga is also great for relaxing. It particularly relaxes the muscles, which allows the body to be more flexible in general.
But make sure to start off right in this discipline by soliciting help from a private teacher or taking some yoga classes. Exercises can be complicated to perform and dangerous if you do not know what you’re doing.
Of course, there are also more traditional flexibility exercises.
These may be similar to warm-up exercises but a little more advanced as for each move it is recommended to hold the position for between 20 and 30 seconds.
Adductors, legs, neck, shoulders, the entire body can be relaxed.
The splits in dance are an element used in many choreographies, whatever the dance style (classical dance, salsa, rhythmic dance, contemporary dance, tango, Zumba, hip-hop, pole dance, bachata, modern jazz, Kizomba, Charleston, African dance,etc.).
Learned from an early age, it lets you do many positions including classical dance moves. So to become a top dancer and impress Craig Revel Horwood, you need to get a move on!
But even though most dancers start very young, it is not impossible to start learning as an adult. It may take a little more time, but you will get there if you are motivated enough.
Discipline is the first piece of advice I can give you.
Apply yourself in exercises and do not do them too fast. If you do, they may not be as effective.
Practice exercises fairly frequently if you want to know how to do the splits quickly. Two or three sessions a week is a good pace.
On the other hand, practicing every day, if you are not used to it, can cause muscle and joint problems.
But if you are a keen athlete, go right ahead.
And do not forget to warm up.
This has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the exercise but especially on the condition of your muscles at the end of the session. Stretching avoids the soreness that prevents you from walking the next day.
Even break dancers need to be flexible. Source: Pixabay
Once the warm-up is done, go straight to the exercises.
To do the front splits, sit on the floor, spread your stretched legs and lean your chest forward straight to the ground.
When doing the side splits, several sets of splits can be very effective in the long term.
Doing the splits will be easier if you’ve practiced a sport before or are still doing it regularly.
Warming-up and stretching are done in all sports, so you should already be quite flexible.
Do not hesitate to evaluate your progress each time and mark the distance that separates you from the ground to see how you are progressing. This will help to motivate yourself.
At A-level, some schools may offer a course in Dance which provides the student with the opportunity to learn choreography as well as develop critical thinking about Dance.
So why not get started?
The specification requires students to:
The practical elements of the course amount to 55% of the full qualification.
It is important to have a general dance background, for example, students who have studied Dance at GCSE and wish to pursue it further.
The content allows students to study a subject which can be extended to higher education and promotes a healthy lifestyle through an awareness of the importance of exercise and training.
Taking dance at school is definitely more fun than maths. Source: Visual Hunt
As a student of dance, you need to learn about a choreographic culture by watching shows and studying the history of dance, but you must also learn about dance analysis techniques.
Do this by analysing dances that you enjoy.
The teacher is usually there to guide you.
Physically, your body must also be prepared for the exam. Throughout the year, practice some moves to master them on the day of the exam.
On the day you will have time to warm up. However, it is up to you to manage your time because you will also have to spend several minutes developing your choreography.
During all of this, don’t forget to have fun.