by Aly Cardinalli
Although it is important to get your babies ready and warm to complete multiple turns, leaps, and (at least in today’s dance forms) tricks, you must be aware of injuries and the preventative steps you can take just in warm-up.
1. Can You Breathe? I yell to my students all the time, “If you don’t breathe, you die!” But truly, when our bodies are under any kind of strain, even simply holding our fists in front of us, it hinders our breathing. We can help our students learn to breathe through movements by incorporating breathing into the warm-up. If when you finish designing your warm-up you find that it is difficult to breathe, rework it, change it, slow it down, speed it up, etc. Make sure you can breathe.
2. Easy Stretchy Baby! Your limber babies will want to push fast into splits and such. It is your job to protect them, especially in the cases of going from one discipline to another, in cold or damp weather, or during injuries. Start with Roll downs, lengthening the spine, combres, and all with soft knees, easing the knees and lower back (which are VERY vulnerable parts of our body) into strain and dynamic movements. Add slow stretches and reaches in 2nd position plie, both turned in and turned out.
3. Plie & Tendu Always It doesn’t matter what your discipline is. There is a reason why ballet has been alive and functional for so many years and always starting with the same two things. When I teach Hip Hop, African, Pointe, or Tap, I always start with some version of plies and foot articulation, even if it is hidden into the warm-up. Make sure you warm up and strengthen the joins and muscles of the leg and never sit at the bottom of a plie during warm up or dropping the hips below the knees (except in primitive pose from Horton technique).
4. Stretching This is the ideal place to put static or isolated stretching into your warm-up; however, this isn’t always the most ideal place in creating a dynamic warm-up or barre. Make sure to get everything in the body. I use a check list going from the feet up section by section or the head down. Once I hit every area, I jumble them together to create a fun and dynamic order of stretching. Make this the same for the year gives your kids a list or order of moves in times where they have only 10 minutes to warm-up.
ALWAYS STRETCH. BEFORE EVERY DANCE, AUDITION, CLASS, PERFORMANCE. FROM THE FEET UP OR HEAD DOWN.
5. Barre So here you have the conflict of what do put in your warm up, but don’t get discouraged. Even if you have Hip Hop, you can figure some way to put these into your class: Degage & Fondu works the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Ronde de Jambes warm up hip joints, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Frappes work on attack and speed of legs. Developes further warm up the legs and lower back.
6. Isolations Make sure you fit into your combinations or barre different isolations: Head, Shoulders, Ribs, and Hips.
7. Heart Rate Time is important. You need to warm up the body muscularly and cardiovascularly. If it is too slow, you don’t warm the body. If it is too fast, the body can get up to 140-180 heart rate, which is dangerous to muscles during a warm-up. Ideally, heart rate should get up to 120-135 at one point during the warm-up (I like it for degage and echape).