What is the recipe for pirouette success?

Pirouettes are often a dancing nemesis for young aspiring performers who dream of making dancing their career. Often physical skills and attributes are deemed most important for pirouette success, however it is arguable that attitude and approach hold as much weight as the physical skills required to perform multiple turns. Common faults include being off balance, not engaging core muscles and holding the turn out, not coordinating the arms, head and eyes, not spotting something specific and not using the floor correctly when taking off, then not controlling the ending of the pirouette. Continue reading What is the recipe for pirouette success?

Dancing success

Since its founding in 1999, more than 80,000 ballet dancers have participated in competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix, as just one dance competition statistic available of many. While more than YAGP 450 alumni are currently dancing in companies across the world, the vast majority never become professional dancers, let alone those who take part in other competitions as well. Continue reading Dancing success

The impact of dance on health, wellbeing and empowerment

Yorkshire Dance, the dance development organisation for the region, alongside researchers from the University of Leeds, have published a report on the impact of dance on the health, wellbeing and sense of empowerment of young people. The research, funded by Arts Council England’s Research Grants programme, focused on two groups of young people, aged between 10 and 20, living in a deprived area of East Leeds.
Continue reading The impact of dance on health, wellbeing and empowerment

Glenn Wood Tap

The Glenn Wood Tap technique is a dynamic tap dance syllabus that is both fun to teach and fun for students to learn; ability-based rather than age-based. Consisting of 14 levels from beginner to professional, Glenn Wood Tap – the syllabus, is both comprehensive and user friendly, designed for both teaching tap dance and evaluating tap dance. What sets it apart from other syllabi is that it is founded on solid technique, whilst being fluid, relaxed and enjoyable. Continue reading Glenn Wood Tap

Progressing Ballet Technique

Progressing Ballet Technique is an innovative programme that aims to enhance the classical ballet technique of dancers through alternative methods, such as use of a Pilates ball rather than being stuck at the barre. To achieve the enhancement of technique, the programme offers in-person and online training for students and teachers across the world, meaning dance artists everywhere can benefit from these resources.  Continue reading Progressing Ballet Technique

Data-driven dancers’ health

The Royal Ballet has recently committed itself to sharing its knowledge in caring for dancers, by partnering with the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science. It’s support of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science means that one of its research projects that aims to gather injury and fitness data from dancers at the UK’s major companies and schools can move forward, in a data-driven approach to dancers’ health.

The project hopes to improve care for dancers’ health and wellbeing through this research, and as a result of the partnership The Royal Ballet will share learning from its system that uses specialist digital technology to track dancers’ injuries, health and day-to-day training, which it uses to inform its injury prevention strategies. As they work together it is hoped that the dance industry will better understand the vast breadth and depth of ‘injury’ across the wider dance sector. It is deemed as essential for the development of the industry.

The partnership between the ballet company and the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science will strengthen the valuable work already done in this area, and will go on to further support the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of dancers around the world. The work has been welcomed by the founding partners of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, including One Dance UK and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries. The centre has already begun to align its injury surveillance methods with the Royal Ballet.

The National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science was founded in 2012 to share dance science expertise and provide information, guidance and access to healthcare services. Its other partners include the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, the University of Birmingham and the University of Wolverhampton.

How to… improve your pirouettes

With a multitude of dance events and exhibitions taking place up and down the country this year, there is no end to the fun dancers can have attending and seeing what is on offer, be it shopping, browsing dance courses or taking part in pop-up classes.

This year Dance Direct will be present at the Can You Dance? conventions, taking place in a number of cities throughout 2017. It is the biggest touring dance convention in the UK and will be visiting 10 different venues this year. There will be the opportunity to shop the great range Dance Direct stocks, but most exciting is the chance to win big in a pirouette competition! Show us how many pirouettes you can do at our stand, or post it on social media and tag @dancedirect, to be in with a chance of winning a Dance Direct goodie bag, full of lots of freebies!

It’s never too late to start practising: pirouettes are not always a dancers’ favourite part of class, but with a few tweaks you can drastically improve your technique and ensure you are spinning across the studio.

Often pirouettes can go slightly AWOL if a dancer does not have the strength to maintain their turns. A strong relevé onto demi-pointe and using the core to control your centre of gravity can do wonders for the number of turns you can achieve, and your recovery too. Starting at the barre before moving into the centre, practice snatching your working leg onto demi-pointe, and your other leg to retiré. With strength running through your arms too you’ll create a solid base for your turns.

Perhaps the most vital part of succeeding in your pirouettes is the use of your head, and spotting using a point in space ahead of you. Not only does this help you achieve multiple turns by the body following, but it also helps to prevent dizziness – you can then turn some more! Before you turn, decide how many pirouettes you will achieve. If you need a double pirouette then don’t change your mind halfway through – commit to your turns and use your head to whip round twice.

Keep your head up and your shoulders back, and you’ll sail round. Looking at the floor will only mean you will end up down there, and unless it is choreographed, it’s best to stay standing!

Dancers and Athletes – Health and Wellness

Giving dancing bodies the correct fuel to perform is of utmost importance. Many professional dancers stick to specific pre-show routines before they perform, and these all include helping the body to achieve its best by giving it what it needs to do so. It is important for dancers to nourish their bodies, as the body is the dancer’s tool, and there is just one of those! It must be cared for accordingly so it is still fit and healthy. Similarly, athletes will also work hard to look after their bodies and nourish them correctly, in order to gain optimum output for what is required.

Whilst looking after the muscles and bones through diet and specialist care, the body’s overall energy and health must also be considered, both physically and mentally. Moving away from this concept is when dancers and athletes restrict their diets, as the body cannot produce enough energy to perform at its best, be it artistically or technically. The body will then turn to other energy sources within the body, so it is essential to retain the body’s muscle, strength, performance and appearance by consuming the right things. The body needs protein in order to repair itself effectively and prepare for the next day, as well as carbohydrates for energy and minerals and vitamins from vegetables and fruit.

Decisions about diet must be made according to what the body’s performance or health requires, balancing this with promoting general health and wellbeing. Burning out can occur at any stage of dance training or consequent career; the diet is the fuel that dancers invest in the body, as do athletes, and food should be balanced for wellness and enjoyment. When dancers and athletes discover how the body works best – in a combination of rest, wellbeing and diet – it will then become easier to produce the most on the way to its best self.