Dance - Posture & Core

Dance is an entire physical action that does not only employ the part of the body that is moving at the time. To achieve this when we dance, we need good posture (to be able to stand tall and straight) and to move from and using our core (the core is our inner centre, located in our stomach, utilising all your stomach and pelvic floor muscles). All movement should stem from and be supported by our core. Having good posture and a strong core will enable you to become a better dancer, giving you greater control and balance and allowing for a greater range of fluid movement. You need a good level of self-awareness to maintain these things when dancing, but practice will make them second nature. They are vital in order to execute a dance well, whatever standard of dancer you currently may be. They are an instant visual and technical improvement to your dancing and without them you cannot and will not reach your full potential in performance.

Action

To be successful

Advice or tips to help you

1

· Stand in neutral position to encourage good posture

· Stand with your weight evenly placed

· Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Try to feel the floor evenly beneath your feet.

· Control your posture without slouching and allowing your head to droop

· Think of stretching or growing through your ribs and spine so that you lengthen and open the body. Imagine the top of your head being pulled towards the ceiling, keeping your neck long.

· Keep your shoulders and arms relaxed

· Try to imagine your shoulders are ever so slightly being pushed towards the floor. Don't be tempted to roll them forward, closing the chest; keep them open and the chest slightly elevated (lifted).

2

· Use your breathing pattern to help good posture and engage core muscles.

· Breathe correctly

· Don't take high chest breaths; this will cause tension in the body and muscles. Try to imagine yourself as a balloon. When you breathe in and fill with air, you expand, and when you breathe out and deflate you shrink back inwards. You should feel this breath in your tummy, back and sides.

· Remember your tummy and pelvic floor muscles

· When you expel air and are moving, you need to engage your tummy and pelvic floor muscles. Try pushing your hands into a wall as if you are trying to move the wall forward and see if you can feel your tummy muscles engaging.

· Keep breathing without holding your breath

· It is very easy to forget to breathe when we are nervous, but this only causes more tension in our bodies. Remind yourself to breathe as you work through the routine. It will help you relax and have more control over your movements.

3

· Test your posture

· Try the wall test

· Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the skirting board. With your bottom touching the wall, stick your hand between your lower back and the wall, and then between your neck and the wall. If you can get within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck, you are close to having excellent posture.

· Try the mirror test front on

· Stand facing a full-length mirror and check to see if:

· your head is straight

· your shoulders are level

· your hips are level

· your kneecaps face the front

· your ankles are straight

· Try the mirror test side on

· Now look at yourself from the side (or have someone else check you out) and look for the following:

· your head is straight rather than slumped forwards or backwards

· your chin is parallel to the floor

· your shoulders are in line with ears

· your knees are straight

· your bottom isn't sticking out

4

· Use good posture in your routine

· Look ahead, not at the floor

· Your head is at the top of your spine; your spine goes into the base of your head. Therefore think of the head as a continuation of the long back and neck you feel in the neutral position from Action 1. Allow the head to lead the spine through your movements. Practise in a mirror and try to make eye contact with yourself as much as possible to ensure you are looking up.

· Keep relaxed

· You may wonder how you can take the neutral position of tip one and maintain that good posture while dancing. Well, ensure that the feeling of lift and elevation through the spine and torso stays with you in your dance but don't allow yourself to stiffen in this position. Use the breath and tell yourself to release and relax as you dance.

· Remember the head-to-toe approach

· You must be aware of all muscles in your whole body when you are dancing in order to carry out the routine with control, fluidity and good posture.

5

· Stretch to help improve bad posture

· Maintain good posture in your dancing

· Having a good stretch will allow you to straighten out any bad postural habits you may have.

· Persevere without expecting instant results

· Correcting posture takes time; persevere and practise.

· Try to think tall

· This should help in elongating (lengthening) your body.

6

· Think about the head/neck and back relationship for maintaining good posture

· Make sure you lead with your head

· Our body has two points of direction, the way our spine points: up, and the way our head points: forward. Try to think about keeping your neck free so that your head can face forward and go up.

· Keep your back long and wide

· When we release our necks so that the head can go up we make it possible for the spine to follow. As the back lengthens, the spine can follow; the shoulders then fall into their correct place and the rib cage is allowed to fill its proper place.

· Keep your legs relaxed

· When your back lengthens and widens; you will notice a new relationship with your legs and feet. The legs should feel more released through the hip, knee and ankle so that movement is smooth.

7

· Choose moves that suit your shape

· Try to do a routine that draws attention away from the weakest part of your posture.

· If you have tense high shoulders that you find difficult to relax, don't do a routine that involves lots of arm work, as this will draw attention to it. Find the style and the moves that suit the best posture you can achieve.

· Don't try and be like someone else

· Just because your friend can do it doesn't mean you have to be able to. Everyone's bodies are capable of different things. Do what you are comfortable with.

· Try to keep it simple

· A simple and sharp routine that is carried out with good posture and a strong core will be a hundred times better than a complicated and lazy one!

8

· Improve your core strength

· Dance with strength and purpose

· Your movements need to come from your core muscles to make them look strong and purposeful and fluid. You need to work on strengthening these muscles to do this and to help your balance and control.

· Visualise at all times

· Just imagining your movements, beginning in your tummy and being supported by these muscles, goes a long way in helping the muscles to engage and work.

· Exercise your tummy muscles

· Your tummy muscles will not help you if they are weak and underused. Start each day with 3 sets of 8 sit-ups and build up from there.

9

· Try to start using your core everyday

· Walk with poise

· As you walk around, try to imagine that it is your core muscles that are actually motoring the action of walking. Think of the legs as being very light and gliding along.

· Sit down in a controlled way.

· When you sit down and stand up, try to engage your core. Don't think of your legs as taking your weight, but imagine the sensation of going up as you sit down and let your muscles do the work of controlling your action.

· Try to make this behaviour a habit of everyday movement

· Using your core muscles in this way needs to become an everyday occurrence if it is to become second nature in your dancing.

10

· Exercises to find all your core muscles

· Find your lower abdominal and pelvic muscles

· Place a hand a couple of inches below your belly button, take a deep breath in, then cough a couple of times. See if you can feel a little jump underneath your hand. These are your lower abs and pelvic floor muscles.

· Find the muscles down your sides

· Place your hands just above your waist and below your ribs. Take a deep breath in and then cough. Again you should feel a gentle jumping. These are the muscles that run down the sides of your body.

· Find your back muscles

· Place your hands either side of your spine, below the shoulder blades (around rib height) take a deep breath in and then cough. You should feel a jump underneath the hands as the muscles in your back engage.