Blog Archives

How to improve your dancer’s posture

Recent studies have show that up to 40% of children have poor posture – a lot of this is linked to too much slumping in front of screens and a general disposition to slouching. Heavy school bags also play a part.

Dance requires proper posture – not just to see the graceful lines, but also to move easier, and breathe better.

So on this Technique Tuesday – here are 5 ways that both we at class and you at home can help improve your dancer’s posture.

1. Demonstrate and show videos or pictures

Most classes see a move or combination demonstrated and the children aim to copy this, this is part of their learning. Posture is the same. Our teachers try to demonstrate good posture in classes – and especially when teaching moves.

“Most dancers learn visually, so they’ll try to mimic proper body position, but often they don’t understand the roots of where it’s coming from,” Chelsie Hightower, a performer on “Dancing with The Stars,” explained to Dance Spirit.

For this reason, it’s often helpful to show your children pictures or videos of proper posture when standing or sitting – see below.

Good Posture 
Head over heart, heart over hips
shoulders down and relaxed
face forward and don't drop the chin
breathing should be easy and going into the belly

2. Stretching

Stretching is a great way to not only maintain good posture and ensure that the muscles front and back are working equally, but can be used to correct poor posture

  • Chest and shoulder stretch: If they slump forward (that head dropped looking at the phone pose) this activity is often helpful for dancers who slump forward. Have them lie on their backs with their arms stretched outward and elbows bent into a bench-press position. They just need to squeeze their shoulder blades together without arching their backs and hold for 10 seconds, and repeat 4 times.
  • Butt bridge: Another area that can cause bad posture is the hips being tight in one area and not strong enough in another. This is a great one to help. Get them to lie on their backs with their knees bent and feet on the floor. Have them squeeze their butts and push their hips toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat four times.

3. Core Exercises

I’m not suggesting 3 year olds start on the sit ups. Dance itself will help with this and we do incorporate these in class in fun ways. We have plank challenges, we do V sits – using pilates, yoga and even some boxing excerises along side the ballet, jazz and acro work. The core is the full surrounded mid section – not just the ‘abs’. If this is something older dancers want to work on drop me a message (leanne@reactdance.co.uk) or catch me in class.

4. Fun with props

We can do this from teeny tiny to teens and older. Props can be a great way to check on the posture – bean bags or books on the head while we move will show if they slouch or drop their chin, or walk with an emphasis on one side. It can even be a fun game to play at home.

Good posture notes for dancers

5. Practice Makes Permanent

Posture needs to be in their minds the whole way through – class, through practice, at home. Its not about constantly walking around like you’re attached to a stick! But remembering to hold yourself upright and tall with all the elements described above.

I always say practice may not make perfect but it will make permanent – it means it will become easier to sit, stand or dance with good posture if you work on it regularly than it will to slouch!

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I’m happy again

What a glorious feeling! We love to dance and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ is one of our ultimate favourite musicals! It’s known and loved the world over for its amazing tap routines and comic storyline!

We may not all be Gene or Debbie, but this will be a fantastic workshop where we can learn some of the steps and combos, and create our own versions of those classic tracks – Singin’ in the Rain, Good Morning, and Make em Laugh.

It would be amazing if you had tap shoes, but we get that you may just want to try the style over the summer – that is completely fine! Just give us a call and we can suggest what will be best!

tap dance workshop in Kenton, Newcastle based on singin in the rain for children aged 5 to 12

This workshop will run in our studio, downstairs in Kenton Park Sports Centre, Anfield Road from 10am to 1pm. Open to all to come along so book in http://reactdance.class4kids.co.uk/camps or call 07969125975 or email leanne@reactdance.co.uk!

Ballet classes

As we prepare for our new term – we’ll be sharing a new blog each Tuesday about what each of our classes involve, what you’ll need and what we’ll be doing

What is ballet?

Ballet is a wonderful form of dance that offers so much to all dancers. It is a classical style of expressive movement has something to offer for everyone – all ages and eventual dance dreams.Whether they look to take ballet just for pleasure, or a student has the goal of a career as a dancer and is more serious-minded, everyone who takes a class can benefit. Ballet dates back to the 17th century and the conventional steps, grace and fluidity of movement are still found in Ballet today. Choreographers have been influenced by composers through the ages.Ballet has a technique which is the foundation of all dance.

Why take ballet?

Ballet has so many benefits for dancers of all ages. It is a more disciplined form of dance and classes have more structure to them than other forms of dance.

  • Discipline is developed through the focus on structure and developing good technique
  • Being prepared to take class in correct uniform/dancewear and with the appropriate appearance (no jewellery, hair back ideally in a bun, shoes, tights and leotard worn)
  • Patience is learned as the steps, exercises and moves require a great deal of practice
  • Fitness is improved in terms of strength, stamina, and flexibility – beneficial to all forms of dance

How are classes structured?

Classes start with exercises – at the barre and in the centre to develop skills, focus on technique and warm up.

Movement exercises are next looking at steps then creating combinations to practice.

We spend a little time on a focus point each class – this could be a small exercise or a combination of steps.

Choreographed routines are then taught – be they one off routines around our focus or working towards a performance or exam.

Improvisation or free expressive movement – allowing students to listen and learn how to interpret the movement within the ballet framework

All classes finish with the curtsy or bow – a little choreography is provided and the hard work celebrated

What to wear and what to bring.

We will have a school leotard that all students we’d love to wear for shows, performances and are suitable should they decide to take exams.

Ballet requires form fitting clothing to allow us to see the full body and its lines and movement.

Ideally:

  • School leotard
  • Ballet tights
  • Ballet shoes
  • Hair in a bun or at least up and off the face
  • Optional – ballet skirt and ballet cardigan

If you are just joining us – any leotard is ok, as is leggings and a form fitting vest top.

Our uniform order will be placed on September 21st – allowing you time to try our classes and ensure they are happy. Dance wear is priced based on size – Leotards will be between £12 and £20, ballet shoes from £11, ballet tights from £9.

We also recommend they bring a drink with them and perhaps a snack for after class. A notebook is also handy to note down anything they need to remember or practice.

We can’t wait to welcome you along – Ballet runs Mondays at Ascension Kenton – £25 per month (or we offer multi class and family discounts – simple email for more information leanne@reactdance.co.uk or call 07969125975)

 

Strength training for ALL dancers

Dancers are strong. Performers on stage are true athletes – demonstrating endurance, strength, poise, posture, grace and so much more.

It doesn’t come easy – but it does come with dance. Even for young children. Many dance technique exercises – ie ballet barre work, corner work in freestyle, tap practice – are designed to strengthen and build endurance.

Why be strong?

Being strong gives the dancer the ability to perform. It is not about big muscles or looking muscley, it is about the strength and how efficient that muscle is. It lets them control their own body better, manage moving their body weight both slowly and fast. It prevents injuries – especially to joints – such as knees and ankles which can dislocate easily.

How – is it the same for all dance?

Not really. All types of dance require a basic level of strength – usually in their core and legs. Some styles develop more specific strength – street for example is a lot of lower body work – so they have strong legs, breakdancing incorporates more upper body strength for arm holds and balances. Contemporary has a great deal of core strength, ballet, a lot in the legs and ankles.

How to be a strong dancer?

Practicing in class – the steps and techniques at the start are designed to prepare the children for their class, their muscles for the work that they have to do, and their minds for what movement patterns to make.

To develop strength their needs to be an element of overload – meaning pushing to work harder to the point of being tired. 2 kicks will not work, 8 kicks is getting their.

There MUST BE BALANCE for children – it is still meant to be fun. But the stronger they are the healthier they will be and the better dancer they will be come.

Fun, games, and dance

Dance classes should be purely dance technique and practice?

Yes and No

It depends on the class – is it a technique based class or exam prep? Is it in the run up to a big event or showcase? Is it the first week back after summer? Do we have a lot of new students? Do we need ideas.

Dance class should always be fun, challenging, but always fun. And most of the time this will come through from the dance itself – the enjoyment of practicing your favourite steps or new routines, or perfecting old ones.

Sometimes though, there is room for change….

Games in class

Introducing games into class may seem a little strange – but we aren’t talking about a round of football or snakes and ladders.

Games can be extremely beneficial to a class in many different ways – so long as they are used appropriately.

Warm ups

Fun ways to warm up for a Freestyle class or a cardio based class – may be a twist on the game or tag or even traveling relays (instead of running try skipping, jetes, leaps, turns). It ensures that the part at the start that gets them ready to move is effective. Boring will result in a lack of effort and then not being warm enough for mobility exercises.

Characters

Getting into character when performing can be hard – so introducing something like charades is a good way to bring shy children out of their shell and get them to use their body and facial expressions to show emotion or ideas.

Acting out things, places, films, also gets them to think about using their body in different ways.

Social

It brings the team together – so many times dance is a solo routine (for exams for example) or you part in a specific piece, where you dance with a set team, time again. Team games brings everyone together in a different activity where dance ability is not key. It allows more experienced dancers to help new members, you become friends with your new team, and encourage and help those who you perhaps don’t normally work with.

Creativity

It frees the mind – playing traveling games or aversion games, charades, makes you thing about movement in new ways to normal in class. Dodging a “tag” may give you ideas on sharp turns, quick movement or use of space. Not talking means you have to use different ways to express ideas and new arm movements or postures may come to mind.

It lets your mind free itself from the constraints of “dance steps” and lets you think outside the box

FUN

It is fun, which is the aim especially for our little ones. They need the time to explore ideas, their bodies, their abilities, to make friends and interact.

Yes there is an element of competiton – but healthy competition, where they strive to be THEIR BEST, not necessarily THE BEST.

 

Key Moves: Ball Changes

These steps may seem simple but they can be tricky when your children are first learning to do them. But they are key to almost all forms of dance so getting them right is important.

They use different parts of the feet, there is the change in weight, there are positions of the legs to consider too. So taking a little time with them will really help their development!

The feet

Making sure that they understand what parts of the feet they need to use is important. There is the flat foot – where the whole foot is in contact with the floor – just like when you are standing. There’s no weight more at the front or the back – it is even across the whole foot.

Then there is the ball of the foot – where if you say stand on your tip toes (unless you are a pointe trained ballet dancer) is where most people will end up. For this step they will be using the flat foot and the ball of the foot.

The action

This step can be done on the spot or travelling. However the idea is the same. The “change” is swapping the weight from one foot to another – just like a step.

So starting with this idea of a travelling ball change – simply step right foot, then left.

To make it a ball change – you step onto the ball of the foot for the right step, then onto the flat foot of the left. So there seems a little lift up on the right (ball) step,  and then a drop when back onto the flat foot of the left.

Exactly the same idea if you step with your left foot first.

If it is on the spot – again – same idea just change the weight from one to the other with the first foot/step being on the ball and the other flat foot.

Advanced

You can turn this step into a huge range of other things – you can turn it, and a kick, add direction, height, incorporate a huge number of other ideas too.

Once you have the basics – have a play around and see what you can do

 

How to improve your Jumps

Jumping – completely different in dancing to most other things – generally for dance it is part of the performance, for style reasons, to add something to a routine or to showcase something.

This means it requires a bit more thought that just leaving the floor from two feet.

Firstly, you must protect your knees! DO NOT land with straight legs. Bend before you jump and land with bent or soft knees through your feet – not with flat feet!

This way not only protects you but also gives you more power to push off from the floor. Think of it like a spring – if you squeeze a spring together a little it will bounce a little, a bigger squeeze and the bounce is bigger!

Secondly, hold your tummy in – DO NOT hold your breath – lift up so you have a strong ‘centre’ this helps you jump higher and keep your balance. It is especially important for when you start adding in arm and leg movements.

Thirdly – think up, think about getting high as possible, and lift into it – you’ll never jump high if your head is down or you don’t use your arms as you should.

Fourthly, control – jumping requires lots of energy, but also control so it looks nice, clean, and strong. Practice doing several jumps in one go – and see if you stay in the same spot – if you move around you need to practice your control – don’t go too fast if your jump is not right.

Basic Jumps and leaps to practice – which will help you get better and be able to learn all the hard ones!

  • Tuck jump – on the spot – both knees up to chest together, arms in and around knees
  • Star jump – on the sport – create a star shape with legs and arms extended
  • Jumping turns – around on the spot – using jumps to turn a full turn, small and controlled
  • Split leap – a leap travelling forward, leaving on one foot and landing on the other – in the air the legs should look like you are in forward splits