Ever wonder how those dancers you see on your favorite TV show or professional performance have so much flexibility? It's like you show up for class and do the stretches your instructor leads you through, but your left with the same thing every week... the same split, the same leg extension and when the ballet instructor instructs you to Développé you have that picture in your head of Misty Copeland in all her glory with the perfect leg lift ...
but what you REALLY LOOK LIKE is this...
The problem we see here is not the quality of the training you are receiving it is the QUANTITY in which you are training these elements. As teachers it is our responsibility to teach you new things yes, but it is up to the student to extend your training by stretching and challenging yourself to take it to the next level. You should be working through your stretches EVERY DAY, taking one to two days off intermittently. If you want a beautiful leg extension or scorpion-turn, you can't just practice these things once a week in class and expect to achieve this skill. Any dancer you see that has skills that you don't, is because they chose to spend EXTRA time on these skills, whether that be at home or on their down time at the studio. Ever heard the phrase "Practice Makes Perfect"? You ask yourself now, how do I have the time? Here are a few things you can try and see if you see improvement:
**Before you stretch ALWAYS spend a few minutes doing cardio to warm up your muscles (jumping jacks, high knee runs, burpees, squats). Make sure to slowly move into your stretches, never starting with your splits....forward bends, lunges, bouncing stretches and static stretches FIRST...then finally into splits and over splits or whatever flexibility element your working through. Remind yourself if you're not feeling a bit of pain you're not going to reach your goals. (Note - pain can also be an indicator of something going wrong...if it is a pain that doesn't go away after the stretch stops please talk with your teacher to address how to change up your exercises)
1. Stretch during your homework break (between subjects) to give yourself a mental break. This is great for weekends and off days for those dancers not already in the studio 6 days a week.
2. Wake up early, eat your breakfast, then stretch before school. Nothing is better than starting the day off with a good stretch!
3. For you little ones that have recess...run around for a bit and stretch during recess!
4. Stretch between classes at dance. Once you have had a class be the first to arrive to your next class and instead of standing around waiting for everyone to enter and the teacher to start...get some stretching in (this is a great time to be working those tough leg holds and balancing stretches! You don't always have to drop to a split to stretch.)
5. If you arrive early to the studio or have a break don't just go play in the locker room take this time to challenge yourself with new stretches or flexibility elements.
**Always ask a teacher if you are looking for new flexibility elements to challenge yourself with or if you are unsure if your stretching correctly. Please remember to use proper body placement when stretching (squared hips, straight knees, feet in alignment, etc...).
Now that we have talked about the need for EXTRA stretch times, how about we have a CHALLENGE!?!?!?!
Starting THIS WEEK September 17th-October 22nd we will be having a SCORPION CHALLENGE! This will be a fun 5 week PHOTO challenge where your dancer will be challenged to progress daily on their scorpion and take a photo of their progress each week! I would LOVE to display their photos on the wall inside the blue studio so please consider printing them out each week with the week number written on the back or front. This will also be tracked via social media by using the hashtag #pmdscorpionchallenge with each week's picture posted. Either will be excepted or both!
To participate either bring a photo all 5 weeks to PM (give it to Ms. Liz or front desk) OR hashtag all 5 weeks with #pmdscorpionchallenge and their picture. We MUST have 5 progress photos of the dancer to be considered for drawing!!
**After the 5th week pictures, on Monday October 22nd, I will select the top 10 to be placed in a drawing for a GRAND PRIZE that week! The Top 10 will be based on progress made...NOT the best scorpion. This gives everyone a chance equally! The winner will receive a gift card to UPSTAGE DANCEWEAR in downtown McKinney!
Good luck! I can't wait to see how amazing these scorpions get!!