Showing posts with label core muscles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label core muscles. Show all posts

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Reflections: The Pressure to Look Good

It's inevitable that dancers constantly face the pressure of having to look good all the time, especially when they have an audience. They'll feel constantly watched, and have to be vigilant with every move that they do. Any misplaced finger or shaky ankle can break the lines and render their photo-moment imperfect, and they'll beat themselves up for it.

I'm beginning to get this sensation too every time in dance class. At the choreography sections of each class, we are often divided to smaller groups to perform the steps. I feel watched. Although the audience is a small one, I still feel the need to go full out and ensure that every move is done correctly and with pinpoint precision. What contributes to this pressure further is when you know that there are seasoned dancers in the same class as you. It could be really demotivating when your style, lines, technique and expression aren't as good as theirs, as they set the bar really high.

Knowing that you probably won't be able to do justice to the choreography is probably what hurts more. In the more advanced classes I take such as lyrical jazz, I find that my dance vocabulary is still very limited. My body isn't strong enough to carry axis turns properly, I can't do barrel roll turns, illusion turns, fouettes, back attitudes, arabesques etc etc.

There are also times where you feel that you're lost in your head in your dance comfort zone. This is the time when your instructor will probably call you out, "Amanda, turn out more," "Squeeze your inner thighs," "Don't sickle your feet", "Collect your Passe", "Your toes are slightly clawed", "Louder heel sounds", "Sharper movements." These comments abruptly snap you out of the clouds and ground you back to Earth, where you realise your imperfections and have to adjust accordingly. But when overdone and hyper-vigilance switches on, your train of thought catches every imperfection your doing, that sometimes you feel like you want to stop whatever you're doing. But when you're going across the floor, you're not allowed to stop. Sometimes, it's better to let subtle details like your derailing ankles, misaligned tailbone, and stiff fingers slip away, only to come back on work on them at a later time.

The only times when I feel that my comfort zone can exceed my expectation to look good is during my tap classes. Then again, I've been in tap for about 13 years now, so it's like an extended limb to me. That way I can always put on that sprezzatura look whenever I'm in class.

I can only hope that I'm diligent enough to strengthen my core, work the inner thighs, and maintain a correct posture through the holidays. I should probably do some ballet poses and exercises to work on the lines too.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Tips: The Importance of a Strong Core

Having a strong core is vital to most dances we learn. The core is what keeps us from being able to do spins without falling off, hold our pose, and do isolations. It is also where the center of gravity is, and joins our upper body to our lower body anatomically. If your core is strong, you're likely to be able to hold yourself together for complex techniques, and you can have better dance lines in general because you're able to control your extensions.

I personally have a few set routines to do core exercises and strengthen them, and so far, I have felt that my dance techniques have looked better because of my ability to hold the core and position them in awkward angles if the choreography calls for it. But in order to improve and feel more grounded and secure as you turn, flat back forwards and backwards, dip and do aerial patterns, it’s important to keep training them.

Many dancers I know recommend doing crunches to 5 minute long songs, and even planking for one full minute, and then going on the sides to work on the oblique muscles respectively. But sometimes it’s better to have more dynamic exercises in order to utilize your body to its maximum potential and mobility.

Some of these exercises include lifting your legs into a cycling motion as you crunch, lifting your elbows to touch your knees in the process. Then, you can speed up this exercise, but it’s important to keep your legs straight out as much as possible throughout the exercise. The important aspect here is to maintain that power in each set of exercises you do.

There are programs out there that provide more dynamic exercises too. A good example would be the Six Pack Shortcut system. I’ve tried one for my chest and back muscles and the burn is insane, but it’s vital to work on the back muscles along with the core so that poses like the back attitude and arabesque can look nice and well aligned.

Mike Chang is great at explaining the exercises and you can do these pretty quickly, but you must make sure that you’re really, really pushing yourself as you’re doing the exercises. If not, you won’t get the results as quickly as expected.

Make sure you stretch those muscles out when you're done with the exercises. As dancers, we should aim to develop lean muscles instead of bulky ones. That way we can look really graceful and petite, yet surprise people by our strength.