Learn to Fly with Leaps and Bounds
One of the most exciting aspects of choreography are larger than life movements that usually come in the form of large leaps and jumps. Some dancers are natural jumpers while others have to pay quite a bit of effort. Either way, an aspiring dancer needs to work on achieving the best leaps capable. Some choreography requires a great deal of buoyancy. Think David Parsons “Caught”, where the main bulk of the choreography is jumping (look it up on YouTube!)…
Each genre of dance has a variety of jumps and leaps that are required dance vocabulary knowledge. Every dancer must be capable of this vocabulary if they are to adapt to choreographic demands. Think Split Jumps, Switch Leaps, Barrel Jumps and Stag Leaps. Think of the beautiful and powerful climax a jump brings to a dance. This aspect of dancing is indeed important when it comes to advanced technique.
Leaps and jumps can be improved in a number of ways. A dancer must have enough buoyancy to fully stretch into a jump with the ability to hover in the air as long as possible. Here are a few tips to help a dancer achieve their best possible air time:
- Hit up the weights! The best dancers in the world supplement their dancing with a weight lifting regimen. Calf lifts, lunges, and squats are the best exercises a dancer can do to help with jumps. Add weights and watch your leaps soar higher than ever!
- Work on those splits! Stretch those calf muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps after every workout: a dancer with limber legs can achieve better leaps. Try working on splits by putting a foam cylinder under the front leg. This is a great and safe way to achieve incline splits.
- Ace that landing! The first thing a dancer learns in the classroom, is how to land a jump properly. This is taught from day one since most injuries come from taking off or landing a jump incorrectly. It is detrimental to a dance career that this knowledge is brought to life in every single leap a dancer executes.
A dancer who learns how to properly use a deep plie in each and every take off and landing, lends a lightness to jumps. One who lands hard takes away the grace of the entire jump and risks injury. Plie is extremely important to the health of the dancer. Not using enough plie can cause tendonitis, sprained ankles, knees and toes.
- Look up! When taking off from a jump, look up into the air and keep the head high, it helps with height. Many dancers are too busy trying to view themselves in the mirror and forget to look up and enjoy the ride!
- Take your vitamins! Every dancer needs to take special care of bones, muscles and tendons. Some great supplements to take are Glucosamine, B12, Multi-Vitamin, and Omega 3 supplements. Make sure each vitamin supplement is accompanied by plenty of filtered, or better yet, electrolyte enhanced water.
More than anything, the single most important bit of advice for approving jumps is belief. A dancer must believe in flying! If a dancer has the feeling and mindset of flying high, they are more likely to achieve more height and air time in a jump. It must start before the take off, and remain throughout the jump and well into the landing. A dancer who believes in a jump literally gains wings.