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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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Head over heels

We are so excited to be bring an acro dance element to React Dance Academy starting September – so we are running 2 sessions for you to come along and try!

We’ll be looking at what we need to build strong foundations in safe acro dance practice – ensuring that we are strong and flexible and ready to develop our acro skills!

These workshops will be an introduction to group acro (including some basic balance and lifts) and solo acro (basic tumbling), filled with fun and excitement! All ages are welcome to come along with some or no experience. This is not gymnastics, there is a dance element to this class!

Please wear tight fitting clothes (leotard, leggings, vests, jazz pants, shorts) and bare feet. Please also bring a drink. We are downstairs in our studio, in Kenton Park Sports Centre, Anfield road!

Book in here at reactdance.class4kids.co.uk/camps or call 07969125975 or email leanne@reactdance.co.uk

Will you be riding Shotgun?

Sun’s out, top down, time to hit the road! With the summer beats of Shotgun, we’ll be creating our OWN music video in our commercial workshop!

Mixing some street, freestyle, and jazz we’ll choreograph a routine and then film it! Including a photo montage of our students you’ll get a great digital keepsake!

Its a 2 hour workshop (10am to 12pm) and we encourage you to wear what you think would fit this song in a music video and bring any props (blow up alligator anyone!).

We can’t wait to get filming – so book your place now at http://reactdance.class4kids.co.uk/camps or call 07969125975 or email leanne@reactdance.co.uk! We’ll be in our studio, downstairs in Kenton Park Sports Centre (and weather dependent we may use the park)

The video and photos WILL be used on our website and social media, it will be made into a digital download for all participants as soon as possible and emailed over!

Why your child NEEDS Classical Ballet

We all want the best for our children – and exposure to things like sports and the arts help them to become more well rounded young men and women. Have you thought about ballet?

Kids are into all sorts of afterschool sports and other activities like piano and violin lessons. Dancing is a great medium for both girls and boys. And, they can start very young.

Classical ballet may have been pushed aside in favour of tap dancing, hip-hop, jazz, Latin dance and other forms. But, did you know that beginning with ballet will help with these other types of dancing, acting, modelling and some sports as well?

Ballet dancers make it look effortless as they move across the stage. From the lifts to the toe points, many wonder how they can do it. Your kids can also be a part of this through the practice of classical ballet.

Our Pre-Ballet classes can start for preschoolers from ages 2, and our Ballet programme from age 4.

Ballet is important for a variety of personal, physical and life skills including:

  • learning to follow instructions
  • gaining a sense of discipline through learning new positions and steps
  • learn coordination, balance and how to control their bodies in motion
  • getting regular exercise and being active
  • become comfortable performing in groups and in front of audiences

When a child is young, learning new things is easier for them as they can adapt quicker than when they are older. So by starting children in ballet from a younger age – they are not only learning a valuable art but getting trained for the life ahead.

Though this is just the beginning. As they continue with ballet – you will see more benefits appearing – especially as they become adolescents and into their teens. These include

  • develop long, lean, and strong muscles from the practice of ballet
  • gaining self-confidence and pride in their bodies and in what they can accomplish
  • learn how to work and practice to get what they want out of their performance
  • ballet skills are transferable to other forms of dance such as jazz and tap, and even other forms of sport
  • they appreciate proper nutrition to keep their bodies in shape to let them dance well

Benefits of Tap and Theatre

Another form of dance that is at home on the stage is tap and theatre – we teach this as a combined class as there is a lot of overlap in rhythm and musicality – and both a featured greatly in musical theatre. To find out a little more – check out or blog on Tap and Theatre.

All can join in

Tap and theatre are a great class to try something different but that isn’t too complex. Of course there are certain steps and techniques but there is a bit more freedom and less strict guidelines that ballet for example.

Tap – the music and the dancer

In tap – not only do the steps form a dance – they create a beat – a noise – each movement with its own sound. It is an excellent way to develop musicality and rhythm. Tap dancing to music means finding beats and patterns – which is a great help to all other forms of dance and well as general musicality.

Designed to perform

Theatre dance is designed just for that reason – to be performed. So from the start we consider stage space, the layout, the directions, where the audience is. It is created to showcase the dance in the best way to those watching. It’s therefore fantastic for any dancer who wants to develop confidence in performing.

A brain work out too

Tap can get quite complex – the movements may all seem very similar and are confined to the legs and feet, but the variety of steps and indeed combinations is huge. Learning these, remembering these, and dancing these is a great way to help children develop thinking and memory skills.

 

We’ve love for your dancer to be part of our dance family. React Dance Academy holds tap and theatre classes every Monday at Church of the Ascension, Kenton  at 5:15pm – please see our timetable for times (and speak to us about ages as these are suggested – we know each child is different). Then please contact us and we can send you more information. We highly recommend this class as a partner with our Youth Theatre programme which runs on a Thursday

For our pre-school ballet and dance (under 5 or nursery and preschool) please visit our dedicated preschool class website

Autumn Term 2017 at React Dance Academy

Thank you all so much for a wonderful Intro week last week – we are so excited to get down to dancing now! So here is a brief overview of what is happening this term!

Important Dates

So we work as much as we can with school terms so we are on our half term break from ‘regular classes’ from October 23rd to 29th. But we will be confirming 3 workshops that week in the next couple of weeks.

So term has started properly and we are focusing on developing our technique. There may be lots of new words and phrases (some French) to learn, as well as practicing at home. Have patience – practice will help!

Half term workshops

  • Monday 23rd October – Ballet and lyrical
  • Wednesday 25th October – Modern Jazz and Street
  • Thursday 26th October – Musical Mayhem – Play in an afternoon!

Christmas Showcase (times tbc)

  • Run through rehearsal – all cast Saturday 9th December 11am to 1pm
  • Dress rehearsal – all cast – Thursday 14th December 4pm to 6pm
  • Show Day – Saturday 16th December – attendance from 1pm to 7pm. Shows at 2pm and 5pm

Term focus

This first half of the term we will be working on technique – building our confidence with exercises, steps, and phrases. After half term we are in SHOWMODE!

Christmas will be here as we prepare for our “Christmas Memories” Christmas Tale – inspired by A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, The Grinch who stole Christmas, The Elves and the Shoemaker – filled with dance and christmas magic!

Uniform

As mentioned – we’d love all dancers to have our leotard – two orders will be placed before they are required wear at our show (estimated prices £15-£20) so there is time to save or offer as a birthday present. Certain classes will requires shoes – ballet and tap especially, ideally all to have their own jazz shoes too

Order forms will be available at each class and via email – any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Attendance

Attendance as often as possible is required for your dancer to get the most out of being part of our group, and also so they can keep up. Please do get in touch if regular attendance may be an issue!

Welcoming more dancers

We always love to welcome new dancers into our group – feel free to share your experiences with friends, on Facebook page, check in at class – the more dancers we have the better – they bring new ideas, energy, inspiration and friendship!

 

Tap and Theatre

Mondays focus on theatre branch classes and look at classes to develop technique and dance skills, Thursdays focus on the performance and theatrical side

What is tap and theatre craft?

This is an hour combination class in which dancers look at the technique of theatre craft and tap dancing. Which are often seen together in musicals and on stage.

In theatre craft, dancers study the technique needed for the theatre shows, musicals and pantomimes. In tap, dancers look at rhythms and footwork. Both also include performance elements.

We look to musicals old and new – from Singin’ in the Rain and Oklahoma to modern Wicked and Lion King. It’s about creating performances for the stage and to tell a story

How is the class structured

Generally 40 minutes will be dedicated to theatre and 20 to tap – this is obviously dependent on many factors including show planning, assessments and preparation

Theatre has several exercised designed to warm up and condition the body as a whole and these will start our class, followed by technique and combos and then choreography time. Tap will include similar style with warms ups and drills, then small combos and then choreography.

What is needed for this class?

Dancers will require tap shoes for this class – please contact us to order a pair. We understand that you may wish to give it a couple of weeks before investing – technique can be practiced with socks on. Tap shoes will cost approximately £22-30 including a set of heel taps

Generally our school leotard should be worn with jazz pants/shorts over the top. Theatre craft would be best performed with ballet shoes. As always – leggings and a vest are perfectly acceptable for the first few classes

Hair should be tied back and no jewellery to be worn.

Dancers are given the opportunity to take part in I.D.T.A grade examinations to show their progression. This is a wonderful class to compliment our Youth Theatre programme – for information on multi class discounts, sibling discounts or enrollment please just fill in our contact form, email leanne@reactdance.co.uk or call 07969125975

Top tips for turns

Getting your turns or spins or pirouettes right can take lots of practice – you need to work on these basic turns a lot which will DEFINITELY help you improve the more complicated turns.

Here are our top tips for terrific turns

  1. Posture – keep lifted up. Engage your core or ‘use your tummy muscles’ so you are feeling tall and upright and strong
  2. Every turn is a balance – practice the balance until you can hold it strong without wobbles – be it in 2nd, 1st, one foot or two
  3. SPOT – focus on where you are going and make your head the last part of your body to turn. DON’T look at the floor – if you do that’s where you’ll end up!
  4. Push into the floor enough to move the turn but not too much that you move more than you should – this takes practice to get the right push
  5. Strong feet means its easier to turn – work on your feet – toes, rises, ankles, alignment so that when you turn your body is fully in line and avoid any wobbles or injuries
  6. Decide to finish your turn – don’t fall out of it, decide to end the single or the double with a clean movment
  7. Visualise yourself – imagine yourself doing the turn perfectly over and over again, and keep this in mind every time you do one!

Let us know what you find hardest about practicing your turns

Tips for improvisation

Improvising or “dancing without practice or preparation” can be a scary experience for beginners, and even for those who have danced their whole lives.

It is about creating and doing movements without choreography – just spontaneously.

It is used for fun (just like dancing at a party – you don’t choreograph that!), skill development, creativity and also for developing choreography

It is a movement skill as well as a form of dance.

Here are our top tips to help you improve your improvisation:

  1. Relax!
  2. Be in the moment – with the music – explore, react, and don’t overthink
  3. Listen and be aware of what else is going on, but also just move as you feel
  4. Be yourself – embrace your skills and style – don’t be too hard on yourself
  5. It’s okay to “copy” – be inspired by others and put your own twist on it – make it YOU
  6. Don’t compare yourself – everyone has different styles, interpretations, skills, favourite moves – so embrace yours and celebrate others but don’t compare
  7. Be free – don’t be shy!

Improving your kicks

Top 5 tips to improve your kicks – in all dance subjects

Flexibility

You need flexibility in your legs and hips to get a high kick. Regular stretching of all your leg and hip muscles will assist in improving the height of your kick, and how straight your legs are. Lunges and squats are great, toe touches, leg swings, splits training are all good ways of developing flexibility. They need to be done after a full warm up and done regularly to have any impact.

Strength

You need to have strong legs. To lift them high, to hold them straight, to develop your flexibility, to keep your weight balanced on one foot as your other legs swings about. The stronger they are the higher they can be lifted – so a higher kick.

Once correct technique is learned and once your instructor has approved – strengthening exercises such as weighted kicks and squat/lunges can help.

Posture

A curved back will ruin even the highest kick, at best you look bad, at worst you will end up injured. A good posture is essential. Focus on a strong core (so tummy and back muscles) that help keep you upright. Keep shoulders back and head up so you look and feel strong. Don’t sink into your hips, feel lifted to give your legs more ability to move in your hip joint.

Toes

Point your toes or flex properly (depending on the style) but don’t go half hearted. Practice with the right toe position, if you forget to point in all your practice, no matter how high your kick, an out of place foot will ruin all your hard work.

Control

This is also part of being strong, but also using the music, you should never hear a THUD when your foot lands, nor should it be a massive swing about with no real attempt to control the up AND down element.

 

Work on all 5 elements EVERY TIME you practice your kicks and you will see a great improvement, don’t forget about important parts, don’t neglect pointing your toes for flexibility, nor posture for height.