April 2, 2019 - Danielle Weitman
Dance ED Tip # 62:
Building Better Dancers Through Mind To Muscle Connection
2) Have the dancers stand with one leg extended on the barre in devant, reach the hands around their shin and use their Lattisimus Dorsi muscles to bring the leg up and off the barre into a devant leg extension. Oftentimes when dancers bring their leg up into an extension, they pull with their arms causing flexion of the spine. I have my dancers retract their scapula (pull the shoulder blades back) to feel the lats engage and continue to lift the leg by pressing down through their back and squeezing their gluteal muscles on the supporting side.
4) Have your dancers lie on their backs and draw up their leg to a passé position. Many times you will notice the dancers low back lifting off the floor (anterior pelvic tilt) this is due to a lack of engagement through the low abdominals, tight hamstrings or tight hip flexors. One of the crucial cues I give my dancers is to tuck their pelvis and engage their abdominal wall while dancing. In order to have the dancers feel the sensation of tucking their pelvis- have them come into a plank position. Small tucks of the pelvis while holding the plank will enable dancers to stand tall without arching their low back. Have the dancers perform this for 20 repetitions to feel their abdominals engage.
Stating what muscles that are causing the movement, stabilizing the shape or traveling through space will give the dancer an opportunity to feel more connected to both choreography and their musculature. Teaching your students how to connect more appropriately to their working muscles will give them an opportunity to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and will also make them all around more technical dancers.