Warming up is part of a dancer’s daily schedule. You should be stretching before class begins and massage and rub your tender muscles, and then you stretch again. What about during show time?
There is an excitement of doing your hair and makeup, getting into your costume and finally performing what you have been working on for so long that dancers don’t consider their bodies. Are you warmed up enough to actually do what you have been rehearsing? Are you warmed up enough not to be injured on the stage? Remember, all year long you have been warming up in class anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending upon your dance level, before actually doing any dance combination what so ever. Today, I will try to instill how crucial warming up before performance, is for your outcome on that stage.
Warming up prepares the body for larger, more exerting movements and decreases tension in the muscles so you can move without stress and strain. It creates a more limber and flexible body. It allows you to perform with ease and grace. Your goal is to limber up and gradually increase your body temperature, warm muscles, and to avoid injuries.
Warming up before a performance will give you a sense of calmness, and allow you to concentrate on what is ahead. There are many ways to begin a pre performance warm up, wrap your self in nice cozy sweats and maybe a pretty shawl around your shoulders and lets get warmed up.
One idea is to begin on the floor with abdominal work. It will give you a center and balanced feeling while performing. While on your back do some leg circles. Lift the leg and draw little circles in the air while keeping the small of your back on the floor.
If you are tense and your back is very tight you may want to begin with a series of slow, deep roll-downs from a seated position, then do a yoga plow where your legs go over and behind your head and your toes touch the floor. Back tension can make you stiff on stage. If you have a tight back, stretching forward and back from a standing position too quickly can make it feel tighter, or even throw the muscles into spasm. Remember that the abdominals and your back muscles are crucial to your performance.
From this point you can follow with barre exercises, such as plies, tendus and degages. Plies will enable the over all muscles in your legs to respond with more agility. Remember that your feet need to warm up too. You need that beautifully arched pointe on stage, so working some tendus and degages will warm up your feet and ankles which are just as essential as the rest of your body. .
Move on now to more leg stretching exercises and some grand battements. Always moving and not keeping still until you are actually on that stage. If you feel that your hamstrings are tight, it indicates that your back is taking a lot of stress and you need to keep it loose and relaxed. This is where the abdominal exercises come in to strengthen your core and to make your body and mind aware of the muscles that you should be engaging almost like tightening the screws on a machine before turning it on to ensure it will run better. Then, you can move on to do a nice and easy barre that works every muscle you would use in ballet. Continue to remind your body what dancing is, then there won’t be any surprises onstage.
You my also want to test the floor of the stage with some small jumps and go across it with some turns and leaps just to get a feel of the stage, so there are no surprises once you are finally out there.
Warming up can be a personal action. You many want to wear your Ipod and listen to soothing music while warming up. For some dancers, warming up may be more beneficial along with other dancers. Which is your preference? Either way …do not get on that stage with out a warm up first……