Back to the Basics

Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics. Even professional dancers sometimes go take a beginner class so they can focus on technique. Clean crisp technique is a must-have, especially considering the competitive job market for dance. Here are a few tips that will help every aspect of your dancing.

1.      Plie is your power-house, your beginning and end, your safe-haven. You can make it big or small, fast and powerful, or slow and sustaining. Plies can absorb shock from a jump, or propel you into your next one. Most steps have a plié in them in some way, shape, or form. Jumps, leaps, traveling steps, stationary movements, almost all of them have a plié. Make sure your plies are clean by keeping your heels from poping up, making sure your knees don’t push forward, and watching that your toes aren’t clawing at the floor.

2.      Head. You probably look at the floor more than you think you do. Figure out specific places for you to look for every movement in your dance or in a combination: a corner, a wall, a spot, your hand, your foot, whatever imaginary sylph is flying through the air at the time… but unless the choreography specifically calls for you to look at the floor, don’t look at the floor. It distorts the line and drastically changes your balance.

3.      Breath. Do you hold your breath while you dance?  Try to engage your breath and connect it to your movements. Exhale when you flex a muscle (or bring a limb away from your midline) and inhale when you extend (or bring a limb closer to your midline). Grand Battements, développés, or big rond de jambes are the ones that usually get you holding your breath. Remember that your muscles are connected to your diaphragm and your lungs, so they won’t work properly if you don’t breathe. Also, you could get dizzy or tired if you don’t breathe enough.

4.      Abs. We all know abs are important in dance, but do you know how important? Your abdominals are connected to your oblique’s, hip flexors, back, pecs, lats, and most importantly, pelvic floor, debatably one of the most important muscles in the body. Instead of pulling your stomach in like you’re “sucking in,” lift the bottom of the abdominals up towards the top ones, therefore flexing them and pulling them up. You’ll feel the difference in your stomach, back, and shoulders.

5.      Imagination. One of the biggest things people forget about technique is that it’s literally all in your head. If you fall in your head, you’ll fall when you do it. If your extension is stuck in your head, it’ll be stuck in your legs. If your legs get twisted up in your head, you’ll get confused when you dance it. If you find you’re having trouble with a certain step, rather than trying it over and over again, breaking it down over and over again, and going nowhere, try closing your eyes and doing it in your head until you can see yourself doing it right.

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