You’re a dedicated dancer and understand that your technique never takes a break. However, when training and working out at home thanks to virtual classes, you’ve likely kicked, bumped into, or knocked over something on every surface of your home you might be feeling a touch of frustration. Additionally, your roommates might have expressed their displeasure at your venture to dance in shared spaces… particularly when they see your feet atop the kitchen counter.
Not to worry!
Here are a few simple solutions for getting stronger and improving your technique within a small or limited space.
First, let’s focus on small space strength exercises. Even though you can’t get in a studio or to the gym there are still plenty of opportunities to get stronger that don’t require equipment, space, or impact.
Try 3 sets of 10-12/leg with 60 seconds rest after doing both sides.
Try 4 sets of 8-10 with 30-60 seconds rest in between.
Try 3 sets of 10-15 with 30-40 seconds of rest after each set.
Try 3 sets of 20 per leg with 30 seconds rest after both sides.
I recommend incorporating these moves into your routine two to three times a week. If something starts to feel easy you can get creative with adding weights or resistance. Some options include slowing down and going at half speed or adding pauses, this is called “time under tension” and it’s great forstronger muscles, enhanced muscular control, and even improved bone mineral density.
Now that the strength portion of your at-home, small space routine is covered, what can you do to maximize your actual dance technique?
A floor barre is a perfect tool!
Floor barre is a low-impact and safe way to utilize your limited space and improve your dance technique without the risk of injuring yourself or breaking that precariously placed antique vase.
Just like any dance class, it is important to warm up effectively before starting a floor barre. Make sure your warmup includes spinal mobility, hips, and a foot warmup. It is also important to include some activation exercises for core, turnout, inner thighs and intrinsic foot muscles.
Some mobility exercises you may want to include in your warm-up are:
-Cat-cows on your hands and knees
-Thread the needle
-Kneeling hip flexor stretch
-Figure four stretch
Additionally, I’d recommend some gentle leg circles, side-lying clams, glute-bridge, dead bugs and, of course, pointing and flexing your feet.
All of this should be performed before even beginning your floor barre in order to set yourself up for success.
Once warm, start by lying flat on your back, place your legs extended in front of you, energy shooting out the heels. This should allow for the alignment of your legs to replicate a normal standing posture.
The benefit here comes from working your turnout with gravity and avoiding the habit of “cheating” turnout from your knees.
Next, just like at a regular barre, work your way through tendus. Working against gravity here will increase the heat with your quads and help establish and maintain stability within your core and glutes.
As formerPrincipal Dancer of the Royal Ballet Darcey Bussell acknowledges in her book, Dance Body Workout, the floor provides perfect support and helps protect one’s back from injury, allowing you to perform the exercises correctly and to find a better range of movement than standing up(Bussel, 2007).
Floor barre starts off with slower moves and gradually advances to faster and more complicated ones. The repetition of the exercises helps to warm up every joint and muscle. Floor barre is perfect for conditioning because it targets the abdominals, the glutes, thighs, calves, and arms.
Once you’ve made your way through your tendu combinations, you’ll work on ron de jambes and battements.
It’s here that you’ll be able to work with the forces of gravity as you bring your leg upward and then resist as you lower your leg back down to the floor. This means you’ll likely experience higher, more explosive movement while being able to focus on that slow, controlled lowering that your dance teachersuggestseach class.
In this way, you’ll also be able to move without the further worry of space as everything is self-contained within the confines of your mat. Feel free to practice battements while lying flat on your back or challenge yourself and try them lying on your side or stomach. You’ll be amazed at how easily you're able to finally access and engage your supporting and stabilizing muscles.
Don’t feel like your floor work needs to end there; frappes, developes, and port de bras can all be incorporated to your floor barre.
Fouette-type movement, beats, even practicing changing direction while in a pirouette-position are all doable and safe when performing a floor barre.
So if your home isn’t built for your dance needs and those you live with demand that precious heirlooms remain intact, it is still completely possible to gain strength and remain structured in your training.
You have the power to use spatial limitations, as a means to expand your mind. Your roommates, downstairs neighbors, and technique will all give a standing ovation for adding these strengthening exercises into your quarantine routine.
For more from Amber Tacy go to:
Product added to Kit Scroll down to view Kit