Here are a few photos from Abigail Sheppard’s performance at the Kansas City Festival in Missouri. Abigail together with her partner Gabriel Davidson with the Finnish National Ballet Company. Congrats Abby from everyone at IDA. We are soooo proud!!!
TEN TIPS FOR PERFECTING PIROUETTES
An Ounce of Preparation
A lot of the prep work for pirouettes happens long before you even try one. Strengthen your core, balance on one leg, build stronger ankles and feet for a quality relevé, and learn to maintain your turnout and center during barre exercises.
Reign in any tendency to panic just before lift-off. Visualize a pirouette that is perfection and have confidence in all that preparation you’ve done.
Hip Down, Legs Stretched
A lifted hip will throw off your pirouette, as will a bent supporting leg. Many dancers think of lifting the thigh to the retiré position. Instead, think of lifting your foot to the knee to keep the hip down. Meanwhile, make sure your standing knee is completely straightened.
Drill, Don’t Twist
As you turn, think of drilling your supporting leg into the floor like a screw. Do not twist through the torso. The shoulders should stay stacked directly over the hips and elongate through the hips and upper body. For pirouettes en dehors, think of pressing the supporting heel forward. For pirouettes en dedans, think of bringing the working side of your back forward and around.
Make it Look Easy
There are things you can physically do to give your turns an effortless quality. Be sure to lift your foot quickly to the retiré position, and rise immediately to a high relevé but, take some time to fully close the arms into first position/5th en avant. Also, exhale as you turn.
Whip it Good
Spotting, the head is super important to your turns. The whip of the head and focus of the eyes which precedes the body, helps to prevent dizziness. [Years of training plays a part too.] Plus, your head is dense (that’s not a joke about your intelligence) and can add force to multiple turns. The neck needs to stay completely relaxed. For doing a double pirouette, think you are shaking your head to say “no no”; that’s how quick your head movement should be, for a triple “no no no”, and so forth.
Have a Ball
The ribs and arms in first position/5th avant have a strong connection in a good pirouette. Think of wrapping your arms around a large beach ball and giving it a little squeeze as you turn. This tends to activate the back muscles, bring the ribs into proper alignment, and gives energy to the arms.
Relax and Float
Tension is the enemy of turning so don’t confuse strength with tension. You’ll want to gather and energetically launch a store of energy as you begin your pirouette but once you’ve released the turn, the goal is to relax and float around.
Land with a Little Lift
Just before finishing your turn, lift just a little bit more. Do not lift your shoulders. This kind of lift is an inward and upward lengthening of the torso that will give a graceful finish to your pirouette. Also thinking of turning out the supporting leg more helps stop you in your beautiful passé pirouette position.
Pirouettes on Repeat
Pirouettes aren’t perfected by dreaming about them. Mastery and artistry comes with repetition, so practice these turns daily. A good way of improving your balance and holding your centre is to invest in a bosu. Practice balancing in passé position, and carefully analyze in what direction you are falling and make the appropriate adjustments. Once you have mastered balancing on the bosu right side up, turn it over so that the ball curve part is facing down to the floor and the flat side is facing up. This will increase the difficulty 2 fold.
Have fun spinning!!
We are so excited to announce that we will be hosting the National Ballet of Canada’s Audition and Master Class Tour for 2015. Books these dates on your calendar. These will be exceptional classes that you do not want to miss.
As the host studio discounted rate for our students for the Open Classes is $15 (as opposed to $25 for those who are not from IDA).
Below is the regular schedule for the timing of the Open Classes and Auditions
|Monday November 23||Open Classes||3:00 – 7:00 PM|
|Staff Arrival||3:00 PM|
|Registration 9-12||3:15 PM|
|Open Class 9 – 12||3:45 – 5:00 PM|
|Registration 13-18||4:45 PM|
|Open Class 13-18||5:15 – 6:45 PM|
|Staff Depart||6:45 PM|
|Tuesday November 24||Auditions|
|Staff Arrival||9:00 AM|
|Registration – Gr 5 & 6||9:15 AM|
|Audition – Gr 5 & 6||10:00 -11:00 AM|
|Registration – Gr 7, 8 & 9||10:30 AM|
|Audition – Gr 7, 8 & 9||11:30 AM – 12:30 PM|
|Registration – Gr 10 to PSP||12:00 PM|
|Audition – Grade 10 to PSP||1:00 – 2:00 PM|
|Staff Departure||2:30 PM|
The Hypermobile Dancer
July 21, 2014 in conditioning, Dance Wellness
I am delighted to introduce you to Moira McCormack, the chief Physiotherapist (that’s the UK word for Physical Therapist) for the Royal Ballet Company in London, England. Moira is a former dancer who became a PT, and has been working with dancers for over 20 years.
Several months ago we had an article on stretching, and I promised you a follow-up; a piece specifically on hypermobility — so here it is! We are indebted to Moira for writing this for 4dancers, as she is one the leading experts in this area of dance medicine.
– Jan Dunn, Dance Wellness Editor
Moira McCormack MSc, Head of Physiotherapy at The Royal Ballet Company in London, UK
Everyone knows that dancers need to be flexible. You can work hard to achieve flexibility but while this is not easy or comfortable it is achievable to a certain extent. However, there are those dancers who do not have to work for flexibility – they can already do the splits every which way, often have swayback knees, a very flexible spine and ‘amazing’ feet. These dancers have an inherited joint flexibility. This means the connective tissue, at cellular level, which binds the body together – joint capsule, fascia, ligaments, tendon, and skin – is not as tightly or evenly knit together compared to other bodies.
Just before you wish you were one of those, you need to know the drawbacks. If you have inherited a global hypermobility (hyper=more than normal) there may be some far reaching consequences.
These dancers also have flexibility where they do not need it – the joints of the fingers which bend backwards to an alarming degree, the shoulders that are extremely flexible and the swayback elbows which look distorted. Also the skin is over stretchy, especially at the elbows and knees and over the back of the hand.
Those dancers find it hard to build strength, control and stability. If joint capsule and ligament allow more excursion (movement), this can lead to early wear and tear or even injury if dislocation takes place.
Good stability around joints is a result of joint capsule and ligament restriction and deep muscle activation during dynamic movement. All dancers need this, but the hypermobile dancer needs it even more, to counteract the lack in ligamentous restriction and protection.
There is a whole range in flexibility of the human body – from a global tightness which we do not find in dance to a global hypermobility which we do see, but it is not necessarily recognised as a condition to be handled with care.
The hypermobile dancer can make beautiful shapes but the coordination required to achieve a speedy petit allegro can be elusive. Balance and correct alignment can also be compromised in the dancer who is struggling with joints that are more mobile than stable. Overuse injuries and trauma can occur and it is the accumulation of injuries that progress the unfortunate dancer into what we call the Hypermobility Syndrome.
The hypermobile dancer who understands the particular requirements of her / his body will find training more logical and encouraging.
As with all dancers, stability and control starts with the pelvis and spine. The deep abdominal muscles and deep spinal muscles targeted in Pilates exercises are isolated and activated (editor note: In Pilates this is called “core control”, and in dance as often referred to as “center”).
The hip joint needs a balance of muscle around the ball and socket joint to stabilize and protect it. Placement and control should not be compromised by height of legs and ballistic (quick bouncy) movements.
The shoulders also require stabilizing, with exercises targeting the rotator cuff muscles to avoid subluxation (where the joint slips out of place just slightly) or dislocation (where it comes completely out of the socket) – especially in young male dancers who are starting lifting work.
The hyperextended knee needs to gain control throughout range, not just in the locked back position, to allow a global control of posture.
The foot requires correct alignment in order to cope with all dance techniques and needs specific foot exercises to develop the strength required for jumping, landing and pointe work. The very flexible foot, although attractive, is harder to control.
The hypermobile dancer finds it hard to gain and maintain strength – the ability to generate force within contractile muscle tissue. For this, high resistance exercises are necessary in the gym using equipment. This ‘cross training’ really is necessary for this particular body type.
This is the term used to describe the body’s position sense…i.e, knowing where you are in space. Good proprioception of the pelvis develops with core stability exercises, which educate correct spinal position. Good proprioception of the knee is developed with balance and resistance exercises and attention to perfect alignment in class. Take care not to rely on mirrors in studios. Instead try to develop better sense of position by improving alignment through careful repetition. Dancers describe this as ‘getting on your leg’.
Balance mechanisms are challenged in the more flexible dancer. Balance and proprioception are a result of accurate sensory information from joints and muscles via the nervous system. There is some evidence that these mechanisms are slower in the hypermobile body, which has to work harder than others to improve. Balance exercises in conditioning classes, the use of a wobble board and trying simple movements with the eyes closed can improve this.
Good coordination is the integration of all the above. The hypermobile dancer may struggle with speed and complex technique but repetition and determination produce rewards. (Slower work is their forte which can make the most of their exceptional lines.)
Posture and Alignment
The characteristic hypermobile posture – the rounded shoulders on the tucked under pelvis resting over the locked, swayback knees – is not to be recommended. So much time spent locking into the front of the hips and the back of the knees is weakening. Developing good postural habits – taking posture from class outside the studio with you (without the turn out) – can help with stability and control.
Fatigue can occur earlier in the hypermobile dancer simply because dancing can be more challenging for this type of body. Some aerobic exercise should be part of every dancer’s regime – swimming, brisk walking or using gym equipment.
The hypermobile dancer enjoys stretching because it is easy and feels good. However, stretching for long periods at the end of range can simply encourage instability. Sitting in box splits for too long is not good for hip joints and is unnecessary for already flexible muscles. We all prefer to practise what we are good at, while we should work at what does not come naturally. Instead, concentrate on stability exercises.
Frustratingly, sprains and strains can take longer to recover as hypermobile tissues heal more slowly. You may notice that your skin bruises and scars easily. That is because it is thinner and more delicate than normal. Injuries do heal however, but need patience and following all the same rules.
To conclude, the hypermobile body has a number of challenges but also some valuable advantages. Line and flexibility can be truly displayed once strength, stability and coordination have been acquired. In dance, different body types will require a different emphasis in training. Understanding the hypermobile body means you can train with realistic aims.
BIO: Moira McCormack MSc is Head of Physiotherapy at The Royal Ballet Company in London, UK.
After a professional dance career in classical ballet she retrained as a Physical Therapist and has worked with dancers for the last 20 years. She teaches anatomy, dance technique and injury prevention internationally, with a main interest in the management of the hypermobile dancer.
… coming your way! Make sure you sign up … So much fun to be had. Spaces filling up quickly. Open to All Dancers!!! Junior ages 8-11 $249.00+HST. Intermediate $375.00+HST.
We will be holding registrations for both Old and New Students on Tuesday, July 14th, Wednesday, July 15th, and Thursday, July 16th from 5:00-7:00 pm.
With a deposit of $250.00 you will be able to reserve your spot in all your classes, as well as receive a 10% DISCOUNT ON YOUR ENTIRE YEAR TUITION FEES.
ALL KINDERDANCE REGISTRATIONS, RECEIVE A FREE TUTU IN THEIR CHOICE COLOUR.
International Dance Academy is offering Summer Dance Intensive Programs.
To register call 622-7333 or email email@example.com
Junior Dance Intensive–Monday to Friday, July 20-24th
Taught by Nerissa McRury
1:30-2:30 Stretch and Conditioning
$249.00 + HST (32.37) TOTAL $281.37
Intermediate Dance Intensive–Monday to Friday, July 27-31st (Ages 12-15)
Taught by Laura Pascolo McRury and Nerissa McRury
2:45-3:45 Stretch and Conditioning
$375.00 + HST (48.75) TOTAL $423.75