Sharing good practice has been one of the most important, and interesting, elements of the Shift project. One of the most frustrating aspects is that we haven’t been able to include everything that we’ve learnt in the website resource we are creating. Due to time (and money) we’ve had to pick the “best bits” so in this blog we hope to share with you some useful practical ideas you can try with your dancer’s to help them improve their alignment.
- Present the big picture to the whole group, then tailor things specifically for individual needs.
- Pelvis alignment is key.
- Address at all levels – lying, sitting and standing
- Use a combination of visual, verbal and tactile delivery approaches.
VOCABULARY - Lengthening through the body is the key to improving alignment. Using words such as lengthening, expanding, growing and reaching encourages and reinforces this.
OBJECTS and IMAGERY that demonstrate the concept of the whole body lengthening and expanding
Bubble – the idea of being inside a bubble and expanding in all directions to touch edges. Find visual images of bubbles (ideally with people inside), use real bubbles and discuss the qualities of expanding, floating, finding buoyancy and softness.
Cellophane - scrunch up and watch expand
Coloured Yenga blocks – build upwards to demonstrate the principle of stacking and tracking
Resistance band – hold vertically and stretch in two directions for a visual demonstration of lengthening through the body. Tie knots in it to suggest the vertebrae of the spine.
Broom handle – hold next to the dancer so they can see a plumb line and compare to their own. Using a mirror is useful for this.
Make a grid on a mirror (with electric tape) or on a photo to see how level your body is
Imagery for feet – imagining feet are on a catamaran or skis, focusing on the imprint the feet are making on a soft surface (e.g. sand, mud)
Visual reminders for lower leg alignment - use electric tape or eyeliner to draw a line on leg/ankle/foot. Put stickers on feet/ankles/knees/hips as a reminder re alignment.
PHYSICAL AND TACTILE PROMPTS to try before or during an activity:
Place hands on head and push into them - this can be done during standing and sitting exercises.
Rocket arms/hands – pointing up to ceiling during plies, in floor exercises etc
Wrap a resistance band around the leg to feel outward spiralling. Start at the foot and ensure the band opens outward from the instep, around the ankle and continues wrapping outward along the leg.
- For dancers who need more lift in their instep (or tend to roll inwards)
Start in parallel. Place one foot slightly forward, maintaining parallel position. Lift the instep of foot and allow the weight to roll onto the outside edge of the foot. Replace and repeat several times. Replace foot to parallel and compare sensation between feet, noticing any changes, before repeating with the other foot.
- For dancers with very high insteps (or tend to roll outwards)
Start in parallel. Step the left foot to the side in a lunge. Lift the outside edge of the right foot, rolling the weight onto the inside edge. Replace and repeat the lifting/rolling several times before returning to parallel. Compare sensation between feet, noticing any changes, before repeating with the other foot.
We hope you enjoy trying out these ideas! This is a small taster of what’s to come when we launch the website resource in summer 2020!