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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Goodness, some of these girls are very flexible.
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.
Here’s a nice series I got of one dancer spinning right into her cartwheel.
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.
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.
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.
Nice job everyone! We hope to see you again soon at another workshop!!