The Science of an Art Form

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Dance Science and Its Practical Applications to a Beginner Dancer

Dancing is largely regarded as an art. For years, and even recently, it was rare to hear the words dance and science used in the same sentence. But as scientists have continued to study the graceful and sometimes seemingly impossible movements of dancers, it has become clear that there is more to dancing than simple artful movement.

The Science in Dancing

Data researchers have looked how psychology, physiology, nutrition and biomechanics of dance can be measured. The study of the science in dancing, is something that is now common in many higher learning institutions, and has several important benefits;

• By understanding the physics associated with various motions, dancers can become more advanced and develop better quality of movement.
• Understanding and applying dance biomechanics helps to avoid injury.
• Dancers can be in their best physical form by applying recommended fitness and nutritional practices.
• Studying psychology helps researchers understand the mental aspects that can help keep dancers motivated and most importantly, happy.

A beginner dancer has plenty to learn from dance science. By combining the art of dancing with the inherent scientific aspects in it, a beginner will be able to grow quickly and safely.

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This Video is a Little Old, But Nicely Describes Some of The Sciences of Dance.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=mX7GLBE94-8%26vq%3D1080

1. Biomechanics

Biomechanics is a field in which engineering principles are applied to biological systems such as that of humans. The aim is to understand structure and function of a specific system. In dancing, biomechanics is extremely important in studying simple and complex dance movements and understanding how muscles and joints function during the whole experience.

One area where biomechanics can help improve is balance and stability. When starting out, a novice dancer will have trouble executing moves that require a lot of balancing. Biomechanics solves this problem by studying the relationship between the body structure and gravity. By making certain changes, such as placing body alignment, a dancer can greatly improve turn stability.

Another important area where biomechanics proves indispensable is injury prevention. For instance, researchers have studied the alignment and angles of various segments of the body during dancing to prevent lower back pain. The segments most studied are the pelvis, lumbar and hips.

2. Physiological Fitness

Some forms of dancing are high intensity while others are much lower, but require more strength and endurance. What is the physiological fitness demanded from a regular dancer?
In studying the correlation between physical fitness and dance technique, researchers have found several things. One, increasing body strength has a positive effect on dancing.  Exercises that boost lower body strength have been observed to be more beneficial; and reduced muscular strength has been seen to increase the risk of injury and lower dance technique

A high level of cardiovascular fitness, body endurance and muscle flexibility are regarded as aspects crucial to becoming a professional dancer.

3. Nutrition

Anything that demands a lot physically from the body, is also expected to demand much nutritionally. This is exactly the case with dancing. Without the right nutritional components, the body cannot meet the tough demands of dancing.
Especially important is a nutrition that meets the energy requirements. The caloric intake of dancers determines how well they are able to handle these requirements. If it is too low, muscle tissue is lost which in turn negatively affects dancing and increases chances of injury. If it is too high, it can cause too much body fat, also increasing the risk of injury.
Other important nutrients include potassium for muscle function, fat for muscle fuel, proteins for muscle repair and various other nutrients for healthy general body function. The professional advice or care of a professional nutritionist is a good way to find out the correct meal plan for you. Adequate fluid intake is necessary to replace the high amount of water lost through sweating.

4. Psychology

A dancer’s state of mind is important to achieving the right physical movements and emotional expression. Years of studying the psychology involved in dancing, has helped dance scientists come up with recommendations on how to;

• Create emotion through dancing.
• Stay motivated.
• Communicate with other dancers and flow together.
• Use visualization to gain confidence and improve dancing.
• Understand and deal with the emotional challenges experienced by dancers.

Today, ambitious dancers understand the crucial role psychology plays in the art. They use therapists in dance classes to help them sync the mental and physical aspects of dancing.

Conclusion

We are still in the early stages of dance science. As researchers continue to uncover more facts, the future holds so much promise for dancers. But with what we have learned so far, any beginner dancer can still make a lot of positive progress. This information will also help make dance classes much more effective and safer.

Ballet Tips for Tendu

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Port Orange Dance ClassesBattement Tendu is one of the first steps you learn as a young dancer. In french tendu means to “stretch.” It may seem like a simple step, but its importance is high on the scale of dance technique. Through this movement, dancers become aware of the energy expelled through the feet. The strength developed through this articulation is how dancers take off and land their jumps with cushion.

“In ballet and other dance forms, this stretched action (and the way the body reacts to it) is important preparation for just about everything, including rising to pointe, lifting, throwing, or balancing on a leg.” 

Tendu is the gateway step for assemblé, grand jeté and entrechat quatre to name a few. Without the dexterity in the feet and toes, jumps would land hard and movements would be lacking the finished look that pointed feet provide for dancers. Whether it’s ballet, jazz or modern/contemporary- tendu is sure to be a part of the curriculum in those styles.

You may think the working leg (the leg doing the tendu) is the most important, but the standing leg is just as important. Tendu is the introduction to standing on one leg, preparing the body for other steps and positions such as dégagé, passe or arabesque.

5 Tips for Tendu

1. Maintain body alignment and hip rotation to ensure proper turn out. I tell my students to start with your best turn out, being careful not to roll in. If rolling in does occur, decrease the turn out. The direction your feet are pointing from first position is the pathway your battement tendu a la seconde (tendu to 2nd position) should travel on. Your tendu will be slightly in front of you, unless you have perfect 180 degree turn out. At that point, it would be directly side. The hips should remain even on a neutral axis with no leaning to either side.

2. Dancers should strive to spread the toes and push them through the floor to create resistance, articulating the toes into the tendu position as the body slightly shifts over the standing leg. There should be no weight on the tendu, just the very tip touches the floor. Reverse that same resistance to close back in to first position.

3. Weight should be balanced over all three points of the foot, keeping all five toes on the floor. Balance points are on the first and fifth metatarsal and The calcaneus (heel bone).

4. Closing in can cause problems in hip alignment. Often times, dancers will lean over the standing leg and lifting the working hip up. This causes the tendu to lose resistance in the floor and can cause problems when approaching more difficult steps.

5. Elongate the toes when working tendus to fullest stretch. They should never be crunched or have weight on them. Again this relates to support in the working leg to maintain balance. After all, tendu is a one footed balance.

             “Plie is the first thing you learn and the last thing you master.” -Suzanna Farrell

As beginners, plie and tendu are two of the first moves we learn in ballet class. Many times, we forget the importance of that and take those first few exercises at the barre for granted. Not only do they warm up our bodies, but they are the base upon so many dance movements are built. The tips I’ve provided are just a glimpse into improving your tendu. Hope this gets you started, and on your way to improvement.

 

The Different Styles of Classical Dance and Their Evolution

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“The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and that has the traditional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs”- Charles Baudelaire.

The Evolution of Ballet

Ballet Classes DaytonaHow it began

In the late 15th Century, ballet emerged in the Renaissance Court Culture of Italy as a dance interpretation of fencing, and was expanded upon in the French Court in the 17th Century. The original elaborate performances took place in large halls which were also used for royal banquets and balls. They united poetry, painting, dancing and music. In 1489, one dance actually took part in the middle of a banquet, and it was themed on the menu- basing their performances on the social dances of the time.Continue reading

Over Stretching – The Dangers to a Young Persons Body

Port Orange Dance Studio

Port Orange Dance StudioDancers are known for their extreme flexibility, but can you take it too far? The answer is yes. In the social media world we live in, we are exposing children to images of stretches that almost seem in-human. Dance teachers are often cautious about taking on such practices, but feel pressured to keep up with the times by both students and parents. However, erring on the side of caution is not a bad thing. The possible dangers that exist with over stretching are high. Training young adolescents is much different than training adults, it is important your dance teacher is aware of the possible dangers that exist and how to prevent them in young dancers.Continue reading

Healthy Eating Tips Before a Performance

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Dancers spend many hours in class and rehearsals getting ready for a performance, they often overlook a very important detail on show day: a healthy food plan. Just as you would do a pre-show warm up to prepare your muscles to dance, you also need to do planned snacks and meals to ensure you have enough fuel to make it through the performance. The last thing you want to be worried about on stage is feeling hungry, bloated or over caffeinated. You can check out some of our healthy eating tips below to guarantee you have your best performance on stage.Continue reading

10 Tips for a Flawless Appearance at Competition

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 Port Orange Dance StudioWhen it comes to competitive dance, there is a lot of aspects that are NOT in your control. But one thing you can do is make sure your appearance at competition is perfect. A finished look that is consistent with your group will not only make you look great on stage, but it will give your group a uniform look that exudes professionalism. The last thing you want to do is to distract the audience from your amazing dancing. Head pieces that fall out or inconstancy in their appearance can lower the overall value of your presentation. The judges won’t notice your beautiful stretched foot if your costume is falling down or your hair is messy and out of place.

1. Costume Fit: It is important that the costume fits properly. If a dancer is uncomfortable in their costume, it shows on stage. They should not be pulling tugging or adjusting the costume in any way. It should be comfortable and fit them well to ensure it presents well on stage and is not distracting to the dancer or the audience.

2. Costume Style: When selecting a costume for a routine, it is important to take every dancer in to account. Choosing styles that are flattering and appealing to your students, parents and audience members will help to sell your routine. Each member of the ensemble should feel confident and great in their costume.

3. Costumes that are Age Appropriate: Dancers should wear costumes that cover their body in a way that is appropriate for young children. Two piece costumes, bra tops and bare legs are not appropriate costuming. Dancers should aspire to be seen as classy. Covering their legs with tights not only finishes the look on stage, but protects them and keeps their muscles warm while dancing and performing.

4. Noticeable Undergarments: Showing any type of undergarments is not becoming on stage. Being sure to tuck nude leotards or any straps out of view. Wearing appropriate undergarments when needed is important as well to ensure there are no costume malfunctions.

5. Messy Hair: It is important that dancers use plenty of gel to smooth hair before going on stage. Loose hairs create a halo in the stage lights and it looks sloppy. Use plenty of bobby pins in your bun to ensure it doesn’t fall out. If your required to wear a ponytail, make sure you either straighten the ends or curl the ends. Otherwise, your hair can look unfinished. Whatever the hair style required, make sure it is neat and polished.

6. Tights with Runs or Holes: Tights that are worn out and have holes and runs DO NOT look good on stage. The judges are usually right at your feet staring at your bottom half. You want them to see a fresh pair of tights that match your shoes. You should always have class tights and performance tights separate. Always keep extra tights with you, you never know when you could get a run or a snag.

7. Accessories that are NOT Secured Properly: Whether it is a part of your costume or a hair piece, ensuring everything is properly secure is key to avoid unnecessary distractions. Jewelry should not be worn when dancing unless it is part of a unique costume request from your choreographer.

8. Nail Polish and Care: Nails should be natural (no polish) and trimmed. Having long nails can be hazardous to the people around you since you are in such close proximity when dancing. Not to mention partner work and tumbling aspects to consider.

9. Dirty or Mismatched Shoes: Shoes should all be the same shape, color, style and over all look. Brands can differentiate. Shoes should be kept clean for class and performance. Dance shoe care is very important to help make them last and for sanitary reasons as well.

10. One Shoe Look: This is NOT OK! It is an unflattering trend on even the most amazing dancers. You would never see anyone on Broadway with one shoe? So please, wear them both or don’t wear any. 😉

 

You Win Some, You Lose Some: Maintaining a Positive Attitude as a Competitive Dancer

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Port Orange dance“I’m not in competition with anybody but myself. My goal is to beat my last performance” Celine Dion

Competitive Dance is a wonderful experience, but just like traditional sports it can bring along some tough life lessons for young kids involved. Like with any competitive activity or sport, you win some – you lose some and keeping a positive mind set can be difficult at times of defeat or embarrassment. A good teacher instills core values into their students that help them understand how to have a positive competitive experience. Competition can be a fun and rewarding experience, not only focusing on their development as athletes and dancers, but their psychological and social development as well.Continue reading

Get the Most Wear Out of Your Dance Shoes

Shannon Thomas Choreographer

Ballet Classes In Port OrangeAs we know, dance shoes can be expensive. In order to get the most wear out of them, it is important you take care of them. Each pair of shoes in unique and it is important they receive the proper care to provide maximum support, protection and performance. Below I will explain how to repair, wear and clean your dance shoes the correct way to ensure they last you as long as possible.Continue reading