May’s Acro and Jazz Workshop: Little Girls Dancing

For the second portion of their workshop, the younger ladies moved into the back room of the studio to spend and hour with the special guest teacher, Ms. Marianne.  They would be working on incorporating their acrobatic tricks into their jazz style dancing. Naturally, Marianne began her time with them with some more warm ups and stretches.


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It’s always nice to see so much attention being paid to stretching.  Not only does having nicely stretched out muscles help prevent the dancers from injuring themselves, but it makes for some beautiful dancing and tumbling movements. Next it was time to start some across the floor work.  Battements were first.

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After the battements to the front, Marianne wanted them to do them to the side and add a heel grab which eventually could be spun.  Before anybody could spin it was important for them to figure out how to hit the proper heel stretch position.  The practiced both in the middle of the floor and by the ballet barre.


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Then the started moving the little pattern across the floor.  Some girls just hit the heel stretch, and others worked to get it turning.

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In the following trip across the room, the added an illusion after the heel grab/turn.

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There was lots and lots of work on those illusions before they tried them back in the pattern again.

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Then the did another whole sequence.  A couple of turns, the high kick, an illusion.

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The moved on to work on pique turns some.


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They also worked on some split jumps.




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The time went quickly, but the girls seemed to learn a lot in their time together.  At the end, everyone gave Marianne a big hug to thank her for teaching them.


May’s Acro and Jazz Workshop: Little Girls Tumbling

The second workshop this month was Acro and Jazz.  The younger students were up first, again, and they spent their first hour with Ms. Kelly doing their stretches and warm ups and then tumbling.

Stretching themselves out tall, long and lean.



Stretching their straddles.



Back bends.


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Back bends with leg extensions.

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Back bends, reaching for their ankles to get the fullest stretch.


Touching the floor (folding themselves in half.)



Half splits with back arches.

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Pulling those back legs up to touch their heads.

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More leg extensions to the back.

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Back bend kick overs.

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Straddle jumps.



Left and Right splits.

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Center splits.


Side Stretches.



With their bodies stretched out and warm, it was time to get moving.

First up, like always, were forward rolls.

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Then cartwheels.

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One armed cartwheels were next.

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Next up, were their aerials.

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Those who’ve “had” their aerials confidently for awhile, worked on putting them together with other movements, like this, where she starts in a heel stretch.

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There were other combinations as well.  Like this chest roll into a donut pose.

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And then there was still a lot more work on those aerials.

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There were also hand stands.

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And handstands which “fall” into a back bend and then are stood up straight.



Still more aerials.

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This next set is interesting and kind of fun.  So, this one student was struggling with her aerial, even with a spot.  She had her arms up near her head instead of down by her bottom and despite her flexibility she wasn’t getting her legs into the proper straddled position while in the air.



Ms. Lynne wanted her to see and feel what the correct position was like in the air, so she held her upside down in the air, like this….



And then she got herself into the right position.  There!  That is where the legs should be when she’s doing her aerials.  Perfect.



There were also lots of walkovers.  Mostly back walkovers, but a few front ones as well.

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Once the students get to a place where they can consistently complete the trick, the teacher’s get “picky” and start really pushing the girls for the very best straight legs and split positions and those (ever popular) beautifully pointed toes.

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Some of the littlest ones still use the “cheese” mat to do their walkovers (or back bend kickovers)but soon enough they’ll be transitioning these skills to the floor.



Here’s another student putting a heel stretch before her aerial.

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As the time was winding down, the students had the opportunity to practice their “thing of their choice.”  This results in everyone working on their favorite of all the tricks they have either newly mastered or are very close to hitting.

Like this chest roll.



And another one,again combination with a donut pose afterward.

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And those back walkovers.

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And even a couple of back handsprings.

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It was great class.  So many great tricks and lots of fun.

Before moving over to the back room for jazz, everyone gathered with Ms. Kelly and Ms. Marianne for a couple of group photos.

First, a silly one….




And then, a (more) serious one.



Great job everyone!

Homemade Ice Pack

As summer approaches and everyone is excited about all the new classes they can take, take a few minutes and make yourself a homemade ice pack!  Simple and easy to make and it will manipulate to area you are applying the ice to.

1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water


Thanks to my massage therapist, Elisa, from Active Knots, that posted this….

May’s Acro and Jazz Workshop: Older Girls Dancing

Once the older students finished the first our of the workshop working with Ms. Kelly on their acro tricks, they changed gears.  Ms. Marianne was going to work with them all on incorporating some of their acro skills into their jazz dancing.

But of course, she needed to run them all through her own warm up….

Running in place


They didn’t just jog in place.  They did jumping jacks, the did lunges, they even did….





Remind me never to try to workout with Ms.  Marianne!

Actually, no, if you want to get fit, you should definitely work out with her.

Anyway, they stretched some more.



Flat backs:

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Center Splits

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Right Splits

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Left splits

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There were even a few over splits for the extra flexible ladies.



Then they did a whole bunch of crunches.


After all these crunches, they stretched back out their tummies and backs for a moment.



And then it was time to start dance moves across the floor.

First up, battements to the front and to the sides.

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After a couple of passes, they added an ankle grab and a spin in that position for those who were able.


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And alright, so by all those pictures you may never believe that any of the girls spun in their ankle grab position, but they did.  It’s just whenever dancers start to spin, getting good pictures can become sort of tricky.

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Then they started a more complex pattern.  I can’t remember how it went exactly, but included a turn, into a backwards kick  up towards their head into a heel grab followed by an illusion.

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Then they did it on their opposite side, heading the other direction.

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For the next combination, Marianne had them to a toward roll out of a penche position (with their back legs extended behind them while they lean forward.)  It went kind of like this, only I’m not sure these pictures quite do it justice.





But of course, if it was just the leg extension, and the role, that wouldn’t be much of a combination.  So after the roll, the dancers were supposed to a series of three leaps.

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The very best “rollers” didn’t use their arms at all.

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Oh.  And did I mention there was a pique turn that started them out, before the forward roll movement?




Really it was all very impressive.



And everyone was working very very hard.

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Also, when it comes to those forward rolls, the same problem with the awkward photos occurs.  It’s tough to capture the girls doing the movement but not have it come off looking awkward.

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Next Marianne had them doing knee drop leaps.



She helped the girls figure out what position they were aiming for in the air.

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So then for the next pass there were several different spins which the did into their knee drops.

So turns… turns… turns…

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All those turns led them to the jump.

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Of course, once everyone had their first go, they turned it around and went back across the floor, doing the moves on the other leg.

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Finally, the did another series of across the floor movements.  This time there were several more types of spins which led them into an illusion.

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Okay, and there must have been a few leaps in there as well.  It was actually pretty complicated.



This next series of pictures of one girl spinning turned out well.  She looks so lovely in every picture and that is hard to do.

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Here are some of those illusions finally.

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It really was an amazing workshop.  Honestly, the combinations that Marianne was throwing out at them to work on were very difficult and intense.  I had a hard time keeping up with my camera.  The dance and acrobatic tricks that she got out of them, even in this workshop setting where they really were just learning, there was some amazing dancing going on.

May’s Acro and Jazz Workshop: Older Girls Tumbling

Starting off with the older girls this time around, while the younger dancers moved to the back room to work on jazz, everyone came in, spread out around the room on the mats and got started with their stretches.  With both the workshop running in both rooms, there aren’t as many photos of this first hour of tumbling as usual, but there are still some good ones.


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It’s always fun to see who has the most impressive straddle jumps, and to try to catch them with my camera.

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Ms. Lynne, as usual, noticed all the girls with the most beautifully fully pointed feet.

With the warm up complete, cartwheels were the first order of tumbling business.



One armed cartwheels and aerials followed quickly after.

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Then it came time for back walkovers.


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And/or front walkovers.  It’s kind of hard to tell sometimes just by looking at the pictures afterward.

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Those who had strong front walkovers worked on these with only one arm as well.


While all of that was going on, in the middle mat, some girls kept throwing their aerials to try to perfect them.



I was in and out, like I said, but I did catch some straddle press handstands as well as some hand stand to back bend stand ups.

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Then of course there were some back handsprings.

PS…  just check out her GORGEOUS almost straight legs in this next one.



More walkovers.  Again, not sure if these were front or back….

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Another back handspring….



As the hour was winding down, the dancers had their choice of which tricks to work on, with or without spotters.

Like this front walkover:




And these aerials:

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And this front walkover, which was followed up by a front aerial.

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Another aerial.



I love this last one of one of the youngest ladies in this class working on her back handspring.  Such determination on her face!  She was so close and will probably be getting it on her own very soon!


Finally, everyone gathered for a quick group shot photo with Ms. Marianne and Ms. Kelly before it was time for the jazz!


May’s First Workshop Part 3: Big Kids’ Rhythmic Stretch

The Rhythmic Stretching master class for the older students began just as the younger ones were finishing up.  They began their workshop with Ms. Sasha though, so instead of Ms. Kelly’s regular warm up, they began with Ms. Sasha’s stretches  instead.

First up, stretching out their feet.

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Then they started their pike position stretches.


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The students then paired up with a buddy to lean or sit on each other and push their stretching further.


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This sequence repeated in the same way with butterfly stretches.



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After that, they straightened their legs and worked their straddles.


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Ms. Sasha asked everyone to really focus on getting their legs truly straight.  The backs of their knees should be pressed against the floor and their feet slightly off the mats as well, with beautiful deeply pointed toes.




Then it was time to lay forward and pull their arms back to stretch their shoulders.


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Of course, the teachers were more than willing to help those with extra flexibility, push themselves closer to their limit.



It was time to stretch with a friend again to work those center splits to their max.


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From there, they pulled their legs back and did some “froggy stretches”


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A few of the more advanced ladies could pull their “frog legs” apart in this position and then lean back and up in this position.





Everyone rolled over on to their backs to do some pike to straddle exercises.






And then they worked their deep lunges.




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To increase the stretch, they pulled their back feet up towards their bodies.


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Then, it everyone got into their splits and practiced their lay backs.



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Continuing with the lay back stretches, everyone did them with both their legs stretched out behind them…




And then, they pulled their toes up to their foreheads to make their doughnuts.


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Then everyone turned over and did similar positions only on their knees instead.


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Of course, they also worked these back bending positions on their feet as well.  Some of the most flexible students could grab onto their ankles.


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There was a lot of discussion on the most beautiful toe point.  Ms. Lynne helped some of the students demonstrate how to point their entire feet and achieve that beautiful arched foot position.




Then, everyone’s favorites!  It was time to prop themselves up on mats or chairs and get to work on over splits!!


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Finally, it was time to move to the barre to practice some of those split positions while standing.



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Now, as pretty as all of those positions were, one student was able to grab her standing leg’s ankle  and hold this beautiful pose…



Just… WOW!




And with that, the stretching portion of the class came to an end.  Before it was time to start tumbling, everyone posed for a quick photo with Ms. Sasha and Ms. Kelly.



May’s First Workshop Part 4: Big Kids’ Tumbling

For the second half of the workshop, it was time to work on everyone’s acrobatic tricks with Ms. Kelly and her assistants.

First up, cartwheels.


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Then one armed cartwheels.


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Very quickly, many of the students were throwing their aerials.  Honesty, it was kind of hard to keep up with all the amazing tumbling.


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Next it was time for everyone to work on their front walkovers.  Many of the students were doing them on only one arm.

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And from one armed front walk overs, it was another quick progression for the more advanced tumblers, to start doing their front aerials.


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It was interesting to watch when one student was struggling with hers.  She tried it first with the teacher’s spotting her.
Since it seems that she was ready, she tried one on her own.  But it went a bit twisted in the air….
So with the teacher’s urging, she stepped back a bit and went back to her front walkovers to make sure she was keeping her hips straight.

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Back walkovers were next.

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Then, naturally, it was time to work on back hand springs.


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And for some, their back tucks.


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There was some time to work on Spiders.  These are when they sort of roll from their knees over through a back bend position and back to their knees again on the other side.


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Then it was time for some practice on elbow stand poses.



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Finally, the time was almost up.  It was time for everyone to throw their last few tricks.  As Ms. Kelly calls it:   “Thing of Your Choice!”


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So many awesome tricks!


It really was another great class.  Can’t wait until the next one!

May’s First Workshop part 2: Little Girls’ Rhythmic Stretch

For the second half of their master class, the younger students  worked with Ms. Sasha who led them through a series of Rhythmic stretching exercises.  Rhythmic gymnasts being typical extremely flexible, her time with the girls showed them how to work to get their own bodies to the fullest potential of their stretching abilities.

They began working on pike stretches again, only this time they partnered up to use each other’s weight to push their flexibility to the next level.

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Because there was an odd number of girls, one lucky little miss got to buddy up with Ms. Kelly!



Giving their hamstrings a break for some time, Ms. Sasha showed the girls how to “sit” on their toes and work on their toe point.

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Then it was time to pair back up and stretch out their butterflies.


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How sweet is this next one?



Or, perhaps, even better, look at these two darlings ?



With their hips opened up from those butterflies, it was time to open up their legs and stretch out their straddles.

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To push the stretch further, Ms. Sasha had the girls move one of their legs in towards their bodies.


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Then they straightened both legs out again and stretched to center again.


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To work on their shoulder’s flexibility, they pulled their arms up behind themselves.


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And to really open up their hips, and make sure they really were making it to a true center split, they partnered up again.


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From there they moved on to lunges.




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And then, you guessed it, they sat on their buddies again to push the stretch, pulling those back legs up toward their bodies once again.


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Obviously, it wouldn’t really have been a rhythmic stretching classes if they didn’t stretch their back bends and stomachs.



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Finally, as the hour was winding down, everybody got up and  moved to the bar.

Once there, they stretched their backs again from a standing position.



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Finally, they worked their standing splits, with their front foot propped up against the wall, while they held onto the ballet barres for balance and support.





Once there, the ladies practiced their lean backs.  A few of the students were very hesitant and afraid of falling but, with the teachers’ carefully guidance and support, each young lady eventually got into the new position!


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It really was a great class.  Here’s one more group photo of all the lovely little tumbling dancers along with Ms. Kelly and Ms. Sasha.



May ‘s First Workshop part 1: Little Girls’ Warm up and Tumbling

Last Sunday, May 4, there was another workshop.  This time, it was another Rhythmic Stretching master class, but this time, Ms. Kelly opened up an earlier class for her younger students as well.

The younger girls came in, introduced themselves to the teachers and one another and got then got right to work on their warm ups.  Their first hour would be with Ms. Kelly to focus on their acro before spending the second hour with the guest teacher stretching.

So the first order of business was some seated pike position stretches.



And then some straddle stretches…




And of course lots of back bends.


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And doughnut stretches…


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Then it was time to rock and roll it out a bit.

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Everyone stretched tall!




And now some half splits.




With lay backs…

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Then they pulled their back foot up to their heads to get into this super cool position.


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Finally, they worked on their regular splits.




With all of that complete, it was time to get up and start tumbling!

First up were forward rolls.

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And also forward rolls in a straddle position.  These are always really tough to photograph, but this time, ONE picture turned out pretty nicely.




Next up, cartwheels!  Regular standing ones, running ones and eventually one armed ones….


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Some of the ladies worked on their aerials.




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Then came hand stands.


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Back bend kick overs and back walkovers were next.


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It’s always cute and exciting when they walk their back bends down the mats.


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Then came a little bit of variety depending on the girls level.  Some did front walkovers….


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Others worked on back bend kick overs…

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There was even a one armed front walkover.




Some of the girls did a backward rolling combo ending in their doughnut pose.



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Ms. Lynne worked on some chin stand poses with a few of the girls.


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And Ms. Kelly helped everyone with their back handsprings.


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All in all, the first half of the workshop was a lot of fun.  Before they all took a quick water break to get ready for the next activity, the girls took a quick moment to gather for an amazing group photo with Ms. Kelly.



How cute is that?