Blog Archives

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

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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!

Correcting your child

Every class sees so many children trying hard to do their best, sometimes as well as praising them for their hard work and effort, we as teachers will need to correct them and their positioning.

This is not “telling off”, it is not a bad thing!

It is a way to help your child improve, and reach their full dancing potential.

Active Instruction

Active instruction is our main way of helping your child. Negative comments such as “don’t do” aren’t helpful as while they point out the mistake, they don’t offer a solution. We always try to include what to do, and sometimes ignore the don’t part all together.

For example instead of saying “don’t slouch” we’d suggest “reaching the top of the head up towards the ceiling”, or instead of “don’t roll your feet”, to “keep all 5 toes on the floor.”

Oblique instructions

These are to be avoided as they highlight the what but not the how. Our aim is always to offer the solution, just like in active instruction, but as they get older, making references to the body parts and positioning, as with experience a dancer will get to know a lot more about the anatomy.

Accepting criticism

Welcome criticism, tell your children that it is not a bad thing to receive a correction. Firstly, it shows the care the teacher has for the child, that they are paying attention to them and their dancing. Secondly, it will help them progress if they act on it and take on board what they say. It will allow them to improve and get better. And give them something to work on because practicing something incorrectly is the worst thing you can do as practice makes permanent!

Flexibility for dancers

To improve as a dancer you will need to work on your flexibility – ideally some work at least 4 times a week – these could be in class, at home or a dedicated flexibility class.

Benefits

Aside from just being more flexible the benefits to dancers of improved flexibility are many.

Firstly, you can do more moves, if you are more flexible you can advance basic moves and try new ones, giving you a bigger dance vocabulary.

Secondly, reduced risk of injury. If you have the ability to move more you are less likely to pull or strain a muscle. You will recover better from tougher sessions too.

Style – you can use your flexibility to add your own style to a piece or work or be more inventive in the improvisation times. You can make more use of the floor or the space, you can create new shapes and move in different ways.

You can also move more freely, steps will seem less of a chore if you don’t have to put a much effort into the movement to reach a high kick or to move the body.

Improving your flexibility

We recommend working on your flexibility 4 times a week. Ideally with some gentle stretches each day. This will result in great gains in your ability in a short time.

Daily stretches could include:

  • lunges with back leg extended straight
  • pike or seated forward fold
  • straddle (seated wide V with a reach forward)
  • the butterfly (soles of the feet together and knees towards the floor)
  • floor to back bend – lifting from flat on your front to stretch the back

You will work out your own routine as you develop as a dancer – just remember to work both sides and don’t over stretch – work within safe limits.

I’d also like to bring your attention to this great piece by The Ballet Blog – “Is Overstretching Bad?” Please do have a read