Our First Workshop!

This past Sunday morning. we held our first ever master class!  Ms. Kelly invited a very special guest instructor, Ms. Sasha Chernenko, a former member of the U.S. National Rhythmic Gymnastics team, to lead the students through a rhythmic stretch workout for the first portion of workshop.


 Everyone stretched this pose by themselves first and then teamed up with a partner to push themselves a little further.

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Of course, there were lots of splits.

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And once everyone had their splits warm, Ms. Sasha asked them to take their stretches further by leaning back and then forward into them.

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 Then then pulled their back legs up.

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 Taking a break from front splits for awhile, Ms. Sasha asked everyone to work on their center splits with their partners again.

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Next up?   Back bends!


And from there, it was time to see how much more flexible their backs could be.

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 Wow.  So then, everyone rolled over on to their fronts and took it further.

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For an extra challenge, Ms. Sasha asked the girls to lay on their stomachs, pull their leg up from behind into a split and then roll it over.  Like this:

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Except of course it really isn’t as easy as she just made it look…

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 After that challenge, it was time to ease back a little and maybe let everyone relax for a few minutes.  And by relax of course, I mean while they sat, with their back legs propped up and worked to hyper-extend their splits past 180 degrees.

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After a quick drink of water, everybody moved to the ballet barres around the room.  It was time to work on some standing stretch poses.  First, inverted splits with their back legs on the wall.

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Then they turned around…


and leaned it back.

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Now things were really getting fun.  Everybody turned around to face the wall and started pulling their leg and foot up behind their head.  The ultimate goal was to get it all the way their heads… or beyond.

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Of course, the teachers were available to coach the girls that weren’t that flexible yet, to show them how to go about stretching to get there one day.

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They did a similar stretch,aiming to get their feet above their head again, only stretching it up to the side.  The most flexible would then pull their leg behind their shoulders and head past 180 degrees into a bow and arrow position.

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Ms. Lynne mentioned that she has seen dancers do this stretch while lying down on the ground and some of them can kick their leg back behind themselves all the way over and kick the floor.

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As many of them tried, only one was actually ever to get her leg all the way over and hit the floor.



That wrapped up their time with Ms. Sasha.  Everyone thanked her for her lessons and bid her farewell.  Then a short water break led everyone into the second half of the workshop.It was time to start tumbling! After a few forward rolls, everyone lined up to take turns going down the mats.  First up:  basic cartwheels, one armed cartwheels and running cartwheels.

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These of course, it was time to start working on aerials.  Some already had them by themselves and the others had the teachers spot them.

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With everyone tumbling, it was time to separate everyone out but what they needed to work on:  Some students put their aerials into combinations, others added back hand springs or back tucks, still others did rolls and front and back walkovers.  All in all, there was some spectacular tumbling going on.

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It went on and on.  Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any more exciting somebody would land a new trick.  Then somebody else would through down a whole series of back handsprings.

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Ms. Kelly noticed one young lady had her front handsprings amazingly strong so she suggested they try a front aerial.  Together with Ms. Lynne they gave her a spot and she was flipping them over in almost no time.

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At the very end, one girl got her front aerial all by herself for the first time.  How exciting!


All in all, the workshop was a great success.  The students got in an excellent workout.  Everyone got thoroughly stretched,  seemed to learn at least one new thing and got in some valuable practice tumbling.

Goodness, it seems like the next master class can’t come soon enough!

What is an Aerial?

What is an Aerial?  An aerial cartwheel is an acrobatic move in which a cartwheel is executed without touching hands to the floor. During execution of a standard cartwheel, the performer’s body is supported by the hands while transitioning …through the inverted orientation, whereas an aerial cartwheel performer is airborne while inverted. To compensate for lack of support from the hands, leg momentum is employed to keep the performer airborne until the leading foot touches down. Aerial cartwheels can be executed while running or from a stationary, standing position. Aerial cartwheels are also known by various other names, including side flip, side aerials, no-hands cartwheels, or simply aerials.
Nina aerial image