Happy almost-Friday! I don’t know about you, but I am so glad the weekend is only hours away. Before I throw in the towel for the week I wanted to share a few things I learned last weekend when I attended Nuvo Dance Convention in Boston!
Nuvo is a big treat for me because I’m able to take class, observe amazing dancers and learn from some of the greatest teachers in the industry. It’s honestly like a trip to Disneyland for a dance teacher. Plus any weekend with dancing + Cheesecake Factory + drinks with the girls is a win in my book.
Below are just a few of the many things that I took away from the weekend.
1. Improv is Everything
Improvisation is built into every single class, whether it’s before the start of a combo or as an exercise itself. And the kids are AMAZING at it. It’s something that I try to work on with my students, but now I know that it’s even more important for them to be comfortable with it and at an even younger age.
Improv Tip: For contemporary classes I like to start class every now and then with an improv warm-up. Instead of doing the usual isolations and stretches I spread the kids out, put on a song and give them prompts to lead them through an improvisation. I ask them to stretch a bit before they begin and limit their improv to smaller movements if they haven’t taken class yet. This warms their muscles, their minds and helps them practice improvisation.
2. Lay Down To Get Aligned
Proper alignment is very important and something I struggle with communicating to my students. Chantel Aguirre took us through an enlightening Floor Barre exercise that forces you to align and activates the correct muscles while you’re laying down, making it easier for your muscles to remember to activate when you stand up.
Floor Barre Exercise
- Lay on the ground and put your hands on your hips. Tilt you thumbs towards the ground and tuck your pelvis. In this tucked position you may be a bit lifted off the ground, but engage your abs so you are not arching.
- Staying tucked, do 4 demi plies, trying to keep your length with each one.
- Immediately stand up and repeat the same 4 demi plies.
- Lay down again and in the tucked position do 2 tondues front (right, left) with a flex and then 2 tondues side (right, left) with a flex.
- Immediately stand up and repeat the same 4 tondues.
4. Forget Your Legs
Dancers these days are so obsessed with getting their legs higher that they forget about their arms. They can do the kick, but their arms are dead in the air.
Tip: Stacey Tookey had a great tip – make the dancers perform their combo without using their legs at all. Just have them stand in 2nd position, but do all the same arm movements that are required in the combination. It forces them to focus on the arms and make sure they are fully extending.
4. Verbalize Tap Steps
In Anthony Morigerato‘s class he talked about the importance of dancers verbalizing the sounds they are making with their feet. One way to practice this is to associate words and syllables with a step, with the number of syllables denoting the timing of the step. To make this easy for kids to understand, Anthony associates the steps with names of fruit and calls it “making a fruit salad”.
Anthony’s Fruit Salad Tap Exercise
Do the step, right and left, and say the word at the same time, exaggerating the syllables. Repeat each step 4x before going to the next one.
Step = pear
Dig heel = ap-ple
Shuffle step = pine-ap-ple
Paradiddle = wat-er-mel-on
Overall it was an awesome weekend of dancing and we all came back with a little more knowledge and a little more swagger, which helps in class, at the club and in life in general.
Have a great weekend friends!