Improvisation is key to being a good dancer. It comes from being able to listen to music, and interpret the emotions and story through movement.
It is also done with very little preparation – there are no hours of choreography to do, no weeks of research – it’s about reaction and feeling.
You will know – sometimes a song comes on and you get a certain urge to move. This is especially true for dancers – though it is not simply a wiggle or step and tap. You hear accents that require leaps, or crescendos that require expansive moves.
Your body reacts to show whether the song portrays hurt or joy.
Talking through what a song makes you feel – is a great way to introduce even the littlest ones to improvisation. Does it make them happy? Do they think they should run or jump? Should they float like a fairy? Does it sound angry and stampy?
This is just one way dance is amazing for a child’s development – especially their emotional well being. Being able to understand and recognise feelings that come from events and sounds.
Pick some of your favourite songs and ask them what they think. Things like the music from “Frozen” or “Aladdin” by Disney are great as they are designed to evoke feelings.
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