Prior to competing or performing, dancers should understand the importance of fully warming up their bodies. We spend a lot of time discussing this with our dancers, and we provide a checklist of proper pre-performance dance warm up exercises (FYI, sitting in a straddle is not a proper warm-up!).
This way, if we are busy or unable to lead a warm-up onsite at a performance or competition, students (and, sometimes, knowledgeable parents) can independently guarantee that they are prepared for their stage performance.
Recommended dance warm up exercises
Cardiovascular Exercise (Ex: Jumping Jacks, Runs in Place)
Ballet Work (Ex: Plies, Tendus, Degages, Battements)
Standing Stretches (Ex: Lunges, Flat Back)
Sitting Stretches (Ex: Second Position/Straddle, Splits)
Back Stretches (Ex: Cobra Stretch, Back Lifts)
Wall Stretches (Ex: Resistance Flexibility)
Core Stabilization (Ex: Plank, Hold & Balance in Retire)
After the body is warm, dancers can review or execute certain skills within their routines.
It is important to reiterate that once the body is warm, it should stay warm until performance time. If a dancer is idle, it is important to repeat the entire warm-up.
Communicate this information with your dancers and their parents, and you will be impressed with the level of autonomy and focus it instills on performance days.
Also, don’t forget that it’s equally important for dancers to be eating healthy foods in the days and hours before a performance! Take a look at these articles and make sure dancers are eating well so they can get through a big performance:
If you’re looking for a way to switch up the dance warm-up for your class, consider incorporating some yoga poses into your routine. Yoga is great for flexibility and balance, and it also relieves stress and helps kids to focus. Here are some of the benefits dancers can gain from practicing yoga and some of the best poses to warm up with.
Why dancers should be yogis
Almost every type of dancer, from ballet to hip-hop, can benefit from regular yoga practice. ISport explained that one of the biggest gains will be in flexibility. Yoga can help young dancers target their problem areas and keep those muscles lean. It’s a great practice for impatient young dancers, because yoga poses can gradually stretch muscles and prevent tears. ISport also pointed out that yoga is a great way to build upper body and core strength. Warming up with yoga is helpful in teaching students proper breathing techniques as well. Yoga emphasizes deep breaths from the diaphragm that won’t alter the alignment of the spine and ribs.
Best poses for warm up
To best incorporate yoga into your class warm up, start with some deep breathing exercises. Encourage your students to relax and focus on their breathing. This will help them to shake off distractions and release stress they’re carrying. You’ll probably want to move through a few basic poses – forward bends, downward dog, plank – to get them started. Once you feel everyone is ready, try these poses together.
Big Toe Pose: In this variation of a forward fold, you’ll keep your legs as straight as possible and grab your big toes with the index and middle fingers of each hand. Have students alternate between pressing their chest to their thighs and stretching up into a table-top position. YogaWiz explained that this is a great exercise to stretch the hamstrings and calves.
Triangle Pose: Begin with your feet about three feet apart, with one foot facing forward and the other perpendicular to it. With arms outstretched, move your torso toward the front-pointing foot, then reach down with your front hand and rest it on the floor or your calf, and extend the top arm toward the ceiling. You’re stretching the front and back of your legs with this pose and also opening up your hips and chest, according to YogaWiz.
Tree Pose: This is a great balance exercise that kids will enjoy. Stand with your feet together, then draw one leg up and place the sole of your foot against your inner thigh or calf – getting your leg up high isn’t super important, but don’t place your foot on or near the knee. If you want an extra challenge, raise both arms above your head. Make sure to switch legs to optimize the stretch and open your hips.