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DanceMasters School of Dance

This is a brief report of how we run some of our classes please find below an outline of our regular routine and benefits of those routines.(This outline is for illustration only and can be adapted to each client) It will be broken down into an introduction of the types of warm up we do at the beginning of a class and then the class content and benefits of such broken into the three distinct age group that are under instruction in the classes held here.

The Warm-up...Why?

warm up



Whilst some injuries are unavoidable, many are the result of your body not being prepared for what you are asking it to do. There is an unwritten law among both elite athletes and casual exercisers that a warm-up before exercising is an important part of injury prevention.

However, within the population of dance teachers and students there has been confusion in the past as to what that warm-up should involve. Many in the dance world have believed that the first few movements of a dance are the warm-up, but this is not so. The body needs to be thoroughly warmed up before any steps take place if they are to be carried out as successfully and safely as possible.

Although putting on an extra layer of clothing or turning up the heating in the room may mean the dancer feels warm, this does not have the same effects on the body.

A good warm-up is a group of exercises performed immediately before an activity that provides the body with a period of adjustment from rest to exercise. It is designed to improve performance and reduce the chance of injury by preparing the dancer mentally as well as physically.

A warm-up should have some if not all of the following beneficial effects:

To make the muscles more stretchy.
This allows greater movement at the joints and reduces the risk of injury. Muscle elasticity depends on how much blood is running through it, so cold muscles with little blood in them are more likely to become injured or damaged. Think of muscle being like a blob of Blu-tack.

blu tack

When Blu-tack is cold you can stretch it so far and then it will snap. But when Blu-tack is warm you can stretch and stretch it and it feels gooey. So it is with your muscles - it is simply the warm blood rushing through the muscle that warms it up on the way past and makes the muscle fibres more elastic. It's a bit like the hot water in the radiator heating up the whole of a room.

 

To make your breathing faster and deeper.
This allows more oxygen to be breathed in and more carbon dioxide to be breathed out. If you have warmed up well you will feel less 'out of breath' in the exercise that follows than if you try it from 'cold'.

To make your heart best faster and stronger.
This delivers more oxygen and glucose to the muscles. Oxygen and glucose are used as fuel to make energy, and then the muscles use this energy to create movement.

To increase the internal body temperature.
Capillaries in the skin will dilate (open up) and so you will look pinker, or even red. You will also start sweating as the intensity of the exercise increases. The reason you sweat is to lose heat so that your body does not become dangerously hot inside.

To allow your nerve fibres to work more efficiently.
Messages carried down from the brain go to muscles, so these muscles will react faster and in a more co-ordinate way. Messages carried up to the brain tell it about what is happening in the muscles and joints. The brain can then react by telling the muscles to work in a certain way, and so many potential mistakes and injuries are avoided.

To allow time to focus.
This means the dancer can concentrate on the exercise to follow, and if you are less distracted then you are less likely to have an accident.

To increase the range of movement available at joints.
This is due to an increase in the elasticity of the tendons, muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues. So, for example, you may find that your kicks are higher after a warm-up than before.

To redistribute blood to where it is needed.
Blood is diverted away from some areas of the body (e.g. gut) and into other areas (e.g. muscles and skin). This happens suddenly when we have a sudden shock, such as nearly hitting a car when riding a bicycle, or nearly slipping over on icy ground. After these, our legs tend to shake and feel wobbly, and we often feel 'sick' in our stomach. But if these same changes happen more slowly (as in a warm-up) then this is not a problem.

 

The Warm-up...How?

A warm-up is necessary no matter how warm the environment. All the above benefits can be obtained by a warm-up routine that should include the following features:

Gentle jogging, marching, skipping or similar rhythmical activity.

Exercises of a steady rhythmical nature involving other joints of the body, such as gentle knee bends, arm swings, sways, trunk rotation, and step ball change. None of these should reach end of range of movement so muscles and joints are not overstretched. Incorporating arm movements at this stage will increase the effects of the warm-up.

Gentle stretches to the large muscle groups, holding each stretch for 10-15 seconds. An increase in flexibility through stretching may reduce the incidence of muscle and tendon injuries. You might want to stretch your quads, hamstrings, and inside-thigh and calf muscles at this time.

Balance exercises, such as standing on one leg, then being able to control bending and straightening the supporting leg and rising on to your tip toes

How long a warm-up takes will depend on the age and fitness level of the student. A young child would be exhausted if they had to jump around for more than a couple of minutes, but a teenage student might need to take 10-15 minutes to be fully warmed.

Interestingly, the fitter you are and the more often you train, the longer your warm-up needs to be to have the same effects.

The steps in the warm-up should not overstretch you and should not include sudden changes in direction, complicated leaps or turns. Keep the steps simple and repetitive and leave the technical bits to the class when the body is warmed up and better able to cope with them. At the end of the warm-up you should feel warm, relaxed and ready for action. If not, you have either done too much, or not enough!

Class Content

For all three age groups covered within our classes the one thing all their classes have in common is the general improvement dance brings to child’s’ Gross Motor Skills*

Obviously how this achieved will differ as much between ages as it does through children. So I will attempt to outline an average class for each age group and benefits of the dances taught this is by no means a definitive class instruction to follow just a few bullet points of the benefits of dance.

The children in these age groups cover:

Jnr Infants [4-5 yrs]
Obviously the level of dance provided for this age group is uncomplicated and based upon repetitive movement, that is to say dances which have a set amount of steps or movements which are repeated.
We use songs usually referred to as ‘party dances’  such as ‘Superman by Black Lace’… this song has a set of actions which match the words and so are easy to follow  these actions are repeated with each set faster than the previous,
This type of dance not only hopes to increase GMS* but also promote fun and spontaneity, as well as enhance muscular strength, flexibility, endurance and energy levels

Snr Infants [6-7 yrs]
This next age group would not only take part in dances similar to the previous but also be introduced to dances which are slightly more complicated so they could gain not only those benefits outlined above but also increase metal agility through the requirement to remember more steps and not necessarily have them in a predefined order, we usually  introduce dance to more modern music such as that found in the charts at the time. As this stretches them slightly we find an increased level of confidence and self-esteem can be gained from this style - learning about what they're capable of achieving.

 

1st class  [7-8 yrs]

Again this age group would continue to benefit from the two styles outlined above and we would introduce ever more ‘stretching’ choreography, we also give them the opportunity to interpret the music provided themselves (dependent on time constraints within the class) which enables them to work even closer as part of a team. Teaching them that dance is an expression of their personality and a way of exploring who they are.

In all three classes we try to install some of the following:

Dancing is not just about the Tango and Waltz. Think of the many forms of dance you see every day, in pop videos, or on the TV... Hip hop, street, break dance, pop, disco, freestyle, Latin, jazz, ballet etc... Even cheerleading, line dancing and belly dancing. The list of different dance styles is endless.
Dancing is an excellent way to improve your strength, coordination, stamina and flexibility.
It is cardiovascular exercise, dance regularly and it will help keep your heart fit and keep you trim.
Dance is an expression of your personality and a way of exploring who you are.
Dancing is an excellent introduction into many other creative activities, such as drama and music, and an enjoyable introduction to exercise in general.
Dancing is a great way to meet new people and make new friends.
Most important of all, dancing is great fun!

But it doesn't’t finish there as important as the warm up and the class itself is the cool down
Cool-down
Cool-down at the end of class is also beneficial. After working hard in class, it allows the body to gradually wind down towards a resting state rather than suddenly stopping.
Your body will return to its pre-exercise state more quickly if you perform light exercise during the recovery period than just stop.
It should allow you to relax physically and mentally, and will help to prevent muscle soreness and injury.

Thank you for taking the time to have a read through this out line and hope you found it informative.

 

NOTES.
*[GMS is defined as the abilities usually acquired during infancy and early childhood as part of a child's motor development. By the time they reach two years of age, almost all children are able to stand up, walk and run, walk up stairs, etc. These skills are built upon, improved and better controlled throughout early childhood. These movements come from large muscle groups and whole body movement.]

…Superman Lyrics

1,2,1,2,3 go
clap your hands
sleep
wave your hands
hitch a ride
sneeze
go for a walk
lets see u swim
now ski
spray
macho man!
Sounds your horn
ring the bell
ok
kiss
comb your hair
wave your hands come on wave your hands
SUPERMAN!

Portions of this report have been guided by the work of Hazel Fish MSc BSc (Hons) CertEd (PCET) MCSP SRP AISTD DipHSW [ http://www.young-dancers.org/body/body.html]

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