6 Ways to Put Some Spring In Your Dance Steps
Gravity-defying jumps and leaps make for some of the most thrilling moments on stage for dancers and the audience. Yet, here you are in dance class, feeling like there’s lead in your leotard. How can you get higher, more powerful jumps? We have a few ideas that will put some spring in your dance steps:
Work on technique. There’s no trick to a catapulting cabriole or a “540” in flight. Electrifying jumps and lofty leaps are a result of years of solid training and regular practice. Before you can work on jump height, you must master proper body alignment and control. During dance class, give special attention to the quality of your plié, the articulation of your feet and the lengthening and engagement of your core and leg muscles during even the most basic exercises. Soaring saut de chat and switch leaps aren’t for slackers.
Take class with the boys. Whether it’s testosterone, shorter Achilles or the choreography given to them, men have greater potential for height and power in jumping. If you’re a female dancer and want to improve your jumps, try taking a ballet class designed for men. Class for male dancers usually includes a lot more jumping at slower tempos.
Try imagery. Almost all dance skills can be improved with a bit of imagery and visualization. Think of the shape you’ll make in the air and visualize the perfect landing. Imagine being supported or lifted by someone or something during the jump. Whatever works for you!
Start strength training. When it comes to proof that dancers are athletes, there is no greater evidence than the sight of airborne performers. For a long time, dancers and dance teachers felt that if you wanted higher, more explosive jumps, you just needed to do more jumping. Now dancers see the effectiveness and value in strength training outside of a regular regimen of dance classes. All-over strength training will help improve your jumps and prevent injury.
Practice plyometrics. Along with strength training, dance-training specialists recommend plyometrics, or jump training for dancers who would like to increase the power and height of their jumps. The exercises include repetitions of dynamic movements like tuck jumps, bounding jumps from one foot to the other, and drop jumps from a platform. Plyometric training is not usually recommended for anyone under 16 years old.
Release tension. Tension is the enemy of good jumping. Jumping and landing with stiff muscles not only defeats the ease and airiness most dancers are going for, but can also lead to injury. Breathe as you jump, and remember that the goal is to launch and release your body aloft, not force it into flight.