Tricks, Turns and Acro Workshop: Older Ones Dancing

Once the older students finished their tumbling time, and Ms. Erica was done working with the younger ladies, she came over to spend some time teaching the more experienced group.

They too started off at the bar stretching their backs.

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Everyone came out to the middle of the floor and spread out in pairs next, to stretch their arms and chest.

First Ms. Erica demonstrated with one student.

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Having seen what to do, everyone took turns stretching their arms with their buddy.

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Everyone also did some leg stretches.

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Once everybody was stretched out again, it was time to work on their scorpion poses.

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Many of the ladies were flexible enough already that they could fully straighten their back legs.

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Some even pulled their legs all the way up to a spike.

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This was a workshop to LEARN of course, so it seems those who didn’t yet quite have the flexibility to hit those more advanced poses learned the most because Ms. Erica taught them how to stretch and work there way there eventually.

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So many pretty stretches!

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Just like the earlier class had done, they worked these poses as the bar first so that they could move them out into the center of the room next and try to spin them and combine them with acro tricks.

First, spins:  (The dancers at different levels had different way of holding their legs up while they turned.)

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Taking a break from spinning for the time being, everyone had a few tries as a very cool acro trick known as a spider.  To do this, the dancers roll from their knees, through a sort of back bend position, back over onto their knees again.  Very cool!

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Next, Ms. Erica asked everyone to try to get into an acro trick from the floor.

First they’d press up in a v-position and then from there do a front walkover or cartwheel.

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For the next challenge, Ms. Erica asked everyone to extend their legs up above their head and then go into an acro trick smoothly.  Again, most did cartwheels or front walkovers, but I suppose in theory, there are a lot of cool trick that could come out of those heel stretches.

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As the time was winding down, there was time for one more challenge.  Everyone was to get into position with their back legs extended  and from there go directly and smoothly into a forward roll.  To finish, they were to try to stand up again on the same leg they started on WITHOUT putting their extended leg down again.

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It was really tough to photograph.

I’m sure though, that my difficulty trying to get some good pictures of it didn’t even compare to the difficulty of the trick though.

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It was another great workshop.  Everyone had a lot of fun and learned something to work on for the future.

Turns, Tricks and Acro Workshop: Older Ones Stretching and Tumbling

When the younger group of  ladies headed into the back room for the dance portion of the workshop, the older girls (and one fantastic boy!) came in and spread out across the mats to get started on their own warm ups and tumbling time.

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Once they completed the seated pike position stretches and butterflies, they moved on to stretching their leg extensions.

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Then of course, came back bends.

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Soon enough, everybody stood up to stretch out a bit more…

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And also throw some straddle jumps to get those leg muscles firing.

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Then everybody divided up across the three mats to start tumbling.  With these older, more advanced students, it wasn’t long at all before many of them were throwing their awesome aerials.

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Of course, not everyone has an aerial to work on yet, so don’t think that was the only thing happening.  Loads of variations on cartwheels (running, standing, both arms, one arm) were being thrown at the same time as all those aerials by all the students.

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Next it was time to work on front and back walkovers.  Honestly, in most of the pictures, I can’t even be sure which was everyone was going.

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Several students were working their front walkovers on only one arm.

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And some were using no arms at all, making them front aerials instead.

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Many of the tumblers worked on their round-off back handsprings as well as standing back handsprings.

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When not actively practicing their back handsprings, everyone had work to do in their back bends to keep building up their strength.

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Towards the end of class, some of the ladies worked on their aerials with a spotter.

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Some others just worked on theirs some more.

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A a few put them in combinations with heel stretches.

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Ms. Kelly and Ms. Lynne worked on back tucks with those who were ready.

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Basically, there had been a great deal of amazing acro, but the tumbling time flew by and soon enough, it was time to pile up the mats because Ms. Erica was coming in to start the dance portion of the workshop.

Turns, Tricks and Acro Workshop: Little Ones Dancing

For the second half of the workshop, the little dancers moved to the back room of the studio to work with guest teacher, Ms. Erica.  Her goal was to work on connecting dance moves (like turns) with acrobatic tricks, seamlessly within routines.

So one everybody gathered into the new room, Ms. Erica talked for a few moments about the things they were going to work on and gave the ladies a little time to warm up to her.

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The did a few brief exercises spread out in the center of the room before she had everyone move to the barres.  There she showed the girls some ways to work on their back stretching and flexibility.

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They went back out to the floor again to stretch their splits again because next they would be working some kicking exercises at the barre that would need their legs to be nice and extra flexible.

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The girls worked their high kicks to the back.  Started with their foot tendu to front first and then in one motion slide it back through first position and on up to the back in an attitude position…. aiming for the top of their own heads with their feet, if possible.

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Yes.  Like that.  They just made it look easy.

Anyway, after working on those for awhile, on both legs, they did something similar, only using straight legs kicking out and to the side.

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They also worked on their leg extensions while holding their on to their feet.  First they’d plie, put the foot in front of them to get a hold of it, then sort of swing it out beside them to an extended standing heel stretch position.

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Goodness, some of these girls are very flexible.

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Having, spent time working on the dance techniques at the bar, Ms. Erica invited everyone back out to spread out around the room and but some dance steps or turns together with a basic acro move.  Most girls put a basic turn together with a cartwheel.  The complexity and the acrobatic trick didn’t matter so much as the real key to the lesson was the way the girls were working on connecting the dance movements to the tumbling ones.  Too often movements can become choppy, with little break between dance elements and acrobatic tricks, so Ms. Erica was helping the girl learn how it feels to let the movements flow smoothly together.

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Here’s a nice series I got of one dancer spinning right into her cartwheel.

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Because the ladies have different strong sides Ms. Erica had divided the girls up into two separate groups, but everyone had time to try the spin to cartwheel move.

So then they worked on heel stretches into cartwheels.  Ms. Erica stressed repeatedly the importance of hitting the dance move strongly and correctly before trying to move into tumbling because if their heel stretches were wobbily or unbalanced on a weak bottom leg, that would be a very poor way to begin a cartwheel (or even an aerial someday) afterward.

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Finally, she helped the girls figure out how to get into different “cool” stretched poses before their tumbling tricks.  Several of the girls worked on scorpion poses, while others did various leg extensions or tried to pull their back leg all the way up behind them and above their head to a spike position.  Again, she concentrating on the girls getting into these positions properly and securely so that they could be strong and steady should they want to attempt some sort of tumbling coming right after hitting these positions in their routines.

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The time seemed to fly by.  Before anyone even knew it, Ms. Erica was finished up with their session.  It seemed like everyone learned a lot and to thank her, everyone shared a big group hug after class.

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Nice job everyone!  We hope to see you again soon at another workshop!!

Turns, Tricks and Acro Workshop: Little Ones Stretching and Tumbling

Last Sunday afternoon, we held our second workshop.  This time, in order to provide more specialized instruction, as well as accommodate more students, the workshop was divided up into two classes.  The younger girls came in first and spent their first hour on the mats with Ms. Kelly.

The master class began with a thorough warm up of stretches.  Legs in pike position with both pointed and flexed feet, butterfly positions, full body stretches, tucks, and back bend (bridges) were just a few of the positions incorporated in the first part of the warm up.

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Happy upside down faces. 🙂

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Next came donuts (where the ladies lay on their tummies and curl up to put their head to their feet) and several other variations on this position to thoroughly stretch out theirs.

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With everyone’s back flexing nicely, it was time to work on loosening up their legs and hips with different leg extensions, straddles and split leg stretches.

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They did a few straddle jumps as well.

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 Awesome.  It is awesome to see how much time and attention Ms. Kelly devotes to thorough warm ups and stretching beforehand.  Not only does this make for beautiful acrobatic technique and tricks, but it prevents injuries!

So once everyone was warm, it was time to start tumbling.  First up were cartwheels.

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After every did a few passes of cartwheels, it was time for a some straddle rolls.

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Beautiful pointed toes! Nicely done!

 

Then, one arm cartwheels.  These almost always photograph so nicely and make for some really fun pictures.

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When you were little did you ever do crab walk races?  Weren’t they fun?  I’m sure those aren’t what Ms. Kelly had in mind because she’d much rather her students use proper technique and build strength when they work, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of those next when everyone took a turn moving down the mats upside down with their walking back bends.

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Take your time ladies, it’s not a race. (It just really, really looks like one.)

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At this point, the class divided up a little.  About half of the ladies went to one mat to continue working on various skills and strength while the more experienced girls began working on their aerials.

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Each girl took a few turns with Ms. Kelly spotting them, and then those who seemed ready had a few goes at it without her spotting.  As you can see, many of them put an arm down.  It’s okay of course, aerial attempts without a spotter are a BIG deal!  Keep working hard ladies and it will come soon enough!

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Meanwhile, back on the other mat, ladies were working on their handstands and handstand rolls.

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These are such a nice trick, but it’s really hard to photograph the rolling over part.

Anyway, so the handstands looked pretty.  And soon enough the group that had been working on their aerials joined in as well.  They also did a series of handstand “falls” into backbend/bridges and stand ups, but the pictures of this all all mixed with the others.

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From there, it was time for some standing back bends, back bend kick overs and back walkovers.

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Most of the ladies kept working on those while once again a few of the more experienced ladies moved over to the cheese wedge mat to work on their back handsprings.

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Finally, as the time for tumbling was quickly drawing to a close, Ms. Kelly asked everyone to line up again for their final few passes.  This time it was time for them to do the tricks of their choice.

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Wow!  What a lot of fun that had been.  Time simply flew by!  Quickly, everyone gathered together for a couple of group shots with Ms. Kelly and then also with Ms. Erica (the guest dance instructor) before the they moved over to the other room for their dance time and the older girls came in to take over the mats.

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