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Dance Gear | Dance Wear Blog

Read our dance wear blog for the latest news, trends and tips on all things dance

  • Eat Sleep Dance Repeat

    As dancers grow and begin to take on more responsibility and partake in more competitions, it is common to reach a certain stage where a certain motivation and passion towards their career will begin to deteriorate. This could be due to a number of reasons, and some of the most common causes have been listed below, and hopefully can be used as food for thought.

     

    Examinations

     

    Excess pressure with school: As exam periods begin, it can be difficult to focus on two things at once. However, it has in point of fact been suggested that taking a break from activities outside of school during exams may not be the best course of action. Having something other than revision to focus on could be a relief for students, and a welcome break, which will enable them to take their mind off the stress of exams. It may be worth communicating with the dance teacher during those times, and finding an agreement about the possibility of altering training hours/days during that period, if deemed necessary. This will also aid the teacher in knowing how to deal with said students, as during examinations students concentration and emotions tend to rise high.

     

    Friendships

     

    This is a big one when it comes to the end of many dancing careers. There has been an astonishing amount of ex-performers admitting to ending their dance careers due to peer pressure, and their need to fit in with friends that have the time to hang out, attend parties, go on dates and so on. More often than not, the same dancers have admitted to missing dancing and wishing that they had never stopped.

     

    Falling outs with fellow dancers/teachers

     

    As dancers mature and become more experienced, so do the pressures of this art form. It is often the case, especially during high pressured situations when misunderstandings and emotions run high. The teacher was sharper with you than he/she used to be, your friend who is competing against you is being distant, pressures of performance and results are increasingly rising. All the above, when added with pressure could lead to poor judgments and rash decisions, which unfortunately result in end of teacher-student relationships, friendships and in some cases, can lead to the termination of dance careers.

     

    Whilst every dancer strives for the best, it is important to remember the reason they took up this art form, and how they fell in love with dancing in the first place.

     

    The teacher who has watched their dancer grow and develop, while harsh words and actions may escape during big events, only wishes the best for the dancer. They have been there with their dancers’ right from the start, and feel all just as equally, and in some cases, even more fiercely than the dancers themselves.

     

    Good communication is key, so if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, your teacher will always be there to listen. This may also be a good opportunity for them to evaluate how their actions or words could have affected you during those stressful periods. As performers get older, the teaching styles they require and their teachers’ style will also develop. This could be the perfect opportunity to discuss such developments, as what worked for you when you were younger, may not necessarily work for you still. This can be a difficult transition for the teacher also, as it is easy to stick to familiar coaching styles, especially when they have had children from a very young age, who stick with them until they are young adults.

     

    The friend that seems distant may be in the same boat as you, and believe that you are being distant also. If this distance is due to the fact you are competing against each other, talk it out. It is important to try to maintain the friendships you have made over the years, for the sake of the friendship as well as demonstrating good sportsmanship and team spirit.

     

    High expectations and big events can indeed be a big cause of dancers’ anxiety, therefore getting your priorities straight is important. Depending on the dancers’ individualism and character, parents may wish to ease coming nerves by discussing something irrelevant to the performance, or how lessons went and how was the teacher or the friend that day. If this is not the approach you think is required, then going through all the above and rationalising each situation could also be a good route. This could help your dancers understand why the above are happening, and how they could go about dealing with those situations.

     

    EndorphinsDance facts

     

    Losing sight of why you love to dance

     

    Over the years, it is easy to lose sight of why you love doing what you do. This is especially the case during busy seasons, when exams and competitions seem like a never ending loop. This, included with reasons similar to the ones listed above, could lead the dancer seeing dance as a chore, rather than something they do for enjoyment and love.

     

    It is difficult, as the way dancers train depends sorely on age, ability and level. If the dancer is simply performing and viewing dance as a hobby, and as something to keep their physical fitness up, then this is easier to handle and keep a light view upon.

     

    However, if the dancers’ goal is to compete and has high expectations and ambitions, this is where viewing dance as a passion can at times become challenging. As much as the dancer has to love what they do, they also have to remain disciplined and focused, and this is where emotions can get crossed and the love for the art from is possible to decrease.

     

    4

     

    Reigniting your love for dancing

     

    There are many ways a dancer might choose to find that passion for performing again. This is something only they can reignite, and in their own way. However, below there are some possible actions that as a dancer, they may wish to consider.

     

    Remembering all the good times they have had along the years. It may be difficult to remember happier days, when the added pressure of exams and expectations of parents, coaches and the expectations the dancer puts on their own shoulders is added. Training has become more intense, and so have the teaching styles of the dance coaches. However, as mentioned previously, it is vital to remember why the coaches are being so hard on their dancers. They only want the best for them, and if their goals and ambitions are high, so will be their responsibility to get their dancers there.

     

    Re-watching old recordings of dance competitions and performances is always an action which every dancer will take now and again. It usually ends in fits of laughter or hiding behind a cushion, as they can’t believe how bad their point was, or how ridiculous they looked in that pumpkin costume – while parents insist on their cuteness levels, and ponder where the time has gone.

     

    Recalling all the friendships made along the way. Some may have lost touch, and others may still play a significant part in the dancers’ life. In most cases than not, dance groups tend to see each other as families – and your dance family will always be there for you no matter what.

     

    Thinking about all the experiences and opportunities dance has provided you throughout the years. Whether it be dance competitions in various locations around the country, or international trips abroad, dance has definitely enabled you with many destinations to tick off your travel list. Auditions or master classes with professional dancers, performances for music videos or back dancers for a tv event, photography sessions for dance CVs. Those could all be things you may have had the opportunity to experience with your dance family.

     

    Remembering how good it felt when you performed well and your efforts were rewarded with results and praise. This is when all the hard work pays off, seeing how far you have come after all those hours in the dance studio, instead of being with your friends at the park. Even though you feel as though you are missing the opportunity to spend time with your friends, it is highly possible that your friends actually admire you for what you do. Good friends will support and feel happy for you when you succeed, and will not begrudge you for not being able to attend a party when you have to attend training for an event instead.

     

    Think about the life skills dance has provided you with, whether it be team work, discipline, organisational skills and time management, which are all skills that will play a vital part when you apply for jobs in the future.

     

    What is your ambition for the future? Where do you see yourself or would like to be in a 10 years’ time? Think about your end goal.

     

    Performing on the West End stage, dancing away on a cruise or even alongside musicians or film stars? All are possible when you are a performer, and having what we call a ‘triple threat’ will allow you more opportunities to get hired. When we use the ‘triple threat’ term, this means having skills in:

     

    • Dancing Musical notes
    • Singing
    • Acting

     

    If the performance route is the one you are looking on pursuing, then maybe start thinking about any extra lessons you could take for acting or singing. The more experience and skills the dancer acquires, the better.

     

    If the performance route in not something you see yourself going down and you are hoping for something more academic, then maybe it is time to think about adding less pressure to yourself when dance competitions and exams are near.

     

    Analyse all the negatives with all the positives. Can you change something about the negatives? Are they realistic? When you think about them calmly, is this still a major problem? Is there some way this can be solved?

     

    Find what motivates you. Whether this is beating your last score, or gaining a medal position, managing to execute five pirouettes, expanding your flexibility or making yourself this month’s hardest worker. Find something that motivates you, and put all your focus in to that goal.

     

    Tired of the daily routine? Perhaps consider attending extra classes, or trying out some different styles. Thinking about auditions, what styles and lessons would be worth attending? What could be of use to you?

     

    In fact, whether needed or not, it may be fun to attend something different, without the pressure of doing it out of necessity. This could be a fun way to really enjoy dancing again.

     

    In the end, whatever the dancer decides to do, it is important to support their decision and make them feel heard. It may be the case, that a short break is needed. Taking a break does not mean the end of their dancing career. If the break turns out to be something more permanent then this is also something only the dancer can decide, hopefully with the guidance and support of those around them.

     

    Whatever the outcome, you will always have the memories, friendships, knowledge and experience you have gained through dancing. Think about all you have achieved throughout the years, and know that these are things that no one can ever take away from you.

     

  • Dance Gear Melody Maker Competition

    Dance Gear is looking for Musicians and Lyricists to work in collaboration with our graphic and photography team.

     

    We are celebrating another successful year with over 41 years of business by launching a competition for those budding Ed Sheeran’s or Taylor Swift’s out there, by asking them to pen and record a song that Dance Gear Direct could use as a sound track on its next YouTube video.

     

    The winning entry will win a £100

     

    To enter, simply send us your sound track in an MP3 file to sales@dancegear.co.uk by Monday 26th August, 2019 for your chance to win.

     

    Dance Gear Dancewear comes in more than 70 designs, each in 10 sizes for children and adults and with over 90 exciting fabrics to choose from. Choose from Leotards and Catsuits, Jazz Pants and Crop Tops, Legging and Shorts, Tutus and Skirts and much more. The winner of this competition will have their song used as a sound track to over 50 pictures used on Instagram over the past year. These pictures are a unique, showing Dance Gear’s huge variety of costume made in different fabrics colours and patterns. Add to all of this these pictures are shown pictorially with art, flare and imagination just like it’s dancewear. The models are wearing a mixture of Nylon Lycra, Cotton Lycra, Shiny Metallic, Patterned or Velour and you can mix the fabric types too.

     

    How to Enter: Visit our Facebook page where our competition post will be pinned at the top from Friday 26th July, 2019. Deadline for entries is midnight on Monday 26th August. The three finalists will be announced on Tuesday 27th August 2019 and the overall winner being announced on Thursday 5th September, 2019

     

    Dance Gear is looking for music and words that would reflect its genre, ideally about 3 minutes long and if it makes you what to get up and dance, much the better.

     

    Terms & Conditions: The competition will go live on Friday 26th July to 26th August 2019. Entrants under the age of 18 will need a parent or guardian to enter on their behalf. Three chosen sound tracks will be posted on our Facebook page and will be judged by the Dance Gear followers (forty six thousand). The entrant gives permission to Dance Gear for all relevant rights and permissions of consents in order for the promoter to re-share their soundtrack on its website, social media and in the local media. All tracks must be submitted by midnight on Monday 26th August 2019 in a MP3 format. The promoter will select three entrants to go through to the final, with the three short listed songs being announced on 27th August 2019 via Facebook. Dance Gear will set live a Facebook poll on Tuesday 27th August through to Monday 2nd September 2019. The finalist with the most engaged content during this period will be declared the winner. The winning song will be announced on Facebook on Thursday 5th September 2019 and will be used as a sound track on its next YouTube shortly after. The prize of £100 will be fulfilled within 28 days of the completion of the competition and the promoter’s decision is final. All entries must be unique and being free from plagiarism. The promoter of this competition is Dance Gear, Merchant House, Beakes Rd, Bearwood, B67 5RS, England.

     

  • Preparation for Competitions

    Management of nerves, excitement and preparation for dance events

     

    ballet dancers

     

    Preparation for competitions

     

    Knowing you are physically and mentally prepared for showcases, exams and/or competitions. Knowing what distracts you.

     

    Do you get over-excited? nervous ball
    Do new environments distract you?
    What will help you get in the zone?
    What could you do in preparation to the event?
    Do nerves get the better or you during big events?

     

    What is your pre-competition prep routine? Below are a few tips, noted down with the hope to help dancers cope with the stress during exam periods. The tactics below are simply suggestions that may or may not work for you, however with more experience the dancer will get to learn what does work for them, and what in fact is not very beneficial to them. If you are an experienced dancer, you undoubtedly have your own methods that can help calm those jitters, especially during the days leading up to competition and examination periods.

     

    Nevertheless, if examination and performance events are indeed a new scene for you, we hope the tips we have jotted down for you may be of use in the coming days of your performance.

     

    dancers legs

     

    If nerves get the better of you during events, what could you do to feel as prepared as possible for your next performance?

     

    Knowing you have worked hard during your training, and that you have practised to the best of your ability during every session. If you have done your best during the lessons leading up to the event, there is no need to panic. You, your dance teacher and fellow students know you can do this. If you were not ready, your tutor would not have put you in this position. Have confidence in yourself.

     

    Training Diaries

     

    Another constructive action would be keeping a training diary, where you could write down any corrections the teacher has instructed. Writing things down often helps with memory, and it could refresh your mind going through those corrections before your lessons/performance day. You could also write down your dance routines, or draw out formations and/or directions of the routine, if this is something you struggle with.

     

    preparing to go on stage

     

    New environments

     

    If new environments seem overwhelming or distracting, it may be a good idea to arrive at the venue at a slightly earlier time. Arriving prior to your allocated time, allows you the opportunity to settle in, find where the changing areas and bathrooms are, and time to get familiar with the venue without the chaos of all groups arriving simultaneously. Big windows, crowds and the sizing of the arena could all be things that cause distraction, so take your time, breathe and take in as much information of your surroundings as possible. You can then get your head in the right frame of mind, and concentrate on your performance.

     

    The same can be executed if you get over excited during big events. Arrive at the venue slightly earlier period if possible, and if the venue allows you to do so.dancer back stage
    Beware of excitement overload. It is common for excitement and nerves to get in the way during big events and performances. This could lead to timing issues with music and, if performing with a group of people, your synchronisation with your teammates. Nerves often make dancers perform faster, so take your time and breathe. If you are performing with a group of dancers, ensure you are keeping up with their timing and are listening to your music queues.

     

    Finding the balance

     

    Surprisingly, nerves can in fact be a good thing, when controlled and moderated. Being excessively nervous can throw the dancer off and activate the ‘fight or flight’ alarm in their bodies. However, being too relaxed could also be a negative during a performance, as the body becomes slack. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between being overly nervous and feeling so comfortable that the dancer becomes lazy. Having a few nerves, keeps the adrenaline in the body going, and creates a sense or exhilaration which is clear in the audiences/examiners eye. In moderation, nerves have the ability to keep the performer crisp, and exciting to watch. In conclusion, embracing nerves could prove to be beneficial, as every performer gets nervous, and it is important to remember that everyone is in the same boat during events. Even the best of the best get anxious, however it is how you manage to deal with those nerves that could turn your performance one way, or the other.

     

    What could you do in preparation?

     

    dancer examEach individual has different needs or methods. Depending on the dancers personality, age or ability, their needs may vary in comparison to those of their fellow students.
    Music, environment, early nights and hydration are few of the many examples of how you may choose to prepare yourself during the last days before your event. Usually the coach will have a big part in their students’ physiological state. The teacher must know how each of their dancers work best. Some may require a gentler approach when dealing with stressful situations, whereas others may prefer a more disciplined approach, with no fussing which could be distracting for them.

     

    Getting in the zone

     

    The more events the dancer partakes in, the more the performance experience of the dancer will grow, and so will the knowledge on how to deal with stressful events. There are many different ways a dancer can manage those nerves. This is not something someone can instruct you on how to do, but merely advise. There is no ‘to do’ list we could give, to aid this, as it solely depends on each individual’s needs, however there are common examples dancers have given, on how they cope with pre-event nerves. Many suggestions which have come directly from dancers fall around the same category, depending on each individual and personality. Some are noted below:

     

    • Quiet and calm environments
    • Reading through training diaries
    • Listening to music
    • Being around dance friends, not overthinking the event
    • Early sleep the previous night
    • Staying hydrated
    • Good breakfast
    • Check list i.e costumes, water, shoes, hair & makeup and so on
    • Visualisation of routines
    • Breathing exercises

     

    The above show a few of the many ways a dancer may choose to focus their energy into during dance events, and we hope you may find of use – if you are quite new to the event scene.

     

    Warmest wishes

     

    Dance Gear team

     

  • Training Tips

     

    Depending on the amount of training the dancer is on, the overall hours spent the studio may not be enough. This text includes some tips that may prove useful, for when work in the studio or the gym is not possible. This may be due to holiday season breaks, weather conditions or unavailability of the venue.

     

    There are many ways dancers/gymnasts can ensure they stay on top of their training and progress. Whether this consists of work in a gym or individually done at home, the more work that happens both in the studio and out, the better the progression for each individual.

     

    Firstly, it is important the dancer knows what their strengths and weaknesses are. What areas could do with improving? What does not need working on? Double the work means double the speed of improvement, and it shows your teacher your dedication, passion and work ethic.

     

    red flagIf not done correctly, incorrect training can lead to injuries and even create further problems for the body in the future.

     

    Whilst working on yourself may be encouraged, dancers and parents need to ensure the work happening at home is executed with the correct technique, and that the dancer is working the correct areas. Every individual has different needs, therefore it is important they know what their strong and weak areas are. If the dancers or parents are unsure how a particular move/exercise should be practised, asking the tutor to show and explain this would be the most sensible plan of action.

     

    If working on certain exercises for flexibility or tricks seems scary, there are plenty of low level stretches that can be done to simply maintain flexibility, rather than to extend.

     

    hamstring stretchHamstring stretches

     

    Pike/forward fold: A simple yet effective exercise, which can be done at any time or space. If the dancer is quite hypermobile, progress the move by flexing the feet against a wall. This will extend the muscles further, allowing a more intense stretch. If this is still not achieving the desired stretch, the move can be progressed further by propping the legs on a higher level (e.g chair, blocks).

     

    One leg standing pike folds:

     

    one leg standing pike foldsUsually performed as part of a warm-up exercise for hamstrings, this move is also pretty easy to do in any space. Hold the stretch for at least ten seconds, before stepping through with the other leg. For an increased stretch, try pulling on the back leg with your arms. Repeat exercise until you reach the end of the space.

     

    P.s If the space available is limited, simply turn around and repeat down the area once more.

     

    Stretches with a theraband

     

    There are many stretches that can be done with the aid of a thereband, and it is becoming an essential tool in many dancers/gymnasts training.

     

    Some exercises may include stretches for:

     

    • Legstheraband stretch
    • Shoulders
    • Feet

     

    The benefit of using a theraband is that it creates a light stretch, and depending on your flexibility, you can adjust how hard a stretch you wish to create. This is the advantage of having a theraband designed with numbered sections, as shown in the image below.

     

    theraband

     

    If the aim is to increase flexibility, each stretch should be held for up to 30 seconds or more.
    As the muscle relaxes throughout the exercise, push slightly further into the stretch.

     

    dancerA strong dancer is a healthy dancer.

     

    More areas your dancer could work on at home are those focusing on strengthening the body. This is always encouraged, as it ensures the body is strong enough to be able to execute the required exercises, without causing strain during moves such as when holding a balance, performing a leap, or when performing dances that require stamina. This also ensures the body is strong enough for all the elements which require flexibility, which if not strong enough, can also cause injuries for the dancer.

     

    Conditioning exercises

     

    This area is usually quite specific to what each individuals needs are. There is no need to bulk up muscle where you don’t need to. However, below are attached some basic pilates/conditioning exercises, which will cover the bases in the required areas for dancers.

     

    Clams:

     

    When executed correctly, this exercise can provide a strong basis – mainly working on the glutes. To add extra resistance, add a theraband/elastic.

     

    clamswith or without a therabandclams with theraband

     

    • Whilst performing this exercise it is important that the body remains straight. You can monitor this by either lying across a line on the floor, or by lightly placing your back against a wall (beware of leaning on the wall/try pushing the hip off the wall)
    • During the exercise it is also vital that the core is engaged. Activate the lower core by imagining a belt tightening around those muscles – REMEMBER TO KEEP BREATHING -
    • Imagine trying to fit a penny just above your hip/stomach, to create a small gap from the floor. This is to maintain the alignment of the spine during the exercise
    • To do this, you may want to lie flat on the floor, rather than propped on one elbow (as shown in the pictures above)

     

    Glute Bridges

     

    glute bridgesThere are many variations to a glute bridge. The simplest and first version you will require working on, before progressing to the next step would be keeping both feet planted on the ground, whilst executing the move.

     

    • During this move, it is important to roll through the spine both on the way up – and on the way down. Start this by firstly rotating the pelvis. Then following, bit by bit feel each vertebrae of the spine peeling off the floor. The same should be executed during the decline in reverse
    • Engaged glute muscles
    • Engaged core muscles
    • Breathing

     

    Progressions of this could be done as:

     

    • Repeat exercise with a theraband (keeping the knees hip width apart and steady)
    • One leg glute bridges
    • Arms raised
    • With a weight in your hands/on stomach
    • Back propped on a raised surface

     

    Superman

     

    supermanBegin the exercise with both knees and arms on the floor.

     

    • Ensure arms are in line under your shoulders
    • Knees hip width apart
    • Core activated
    • Find the middle ground with your back. Create a happy cat, a sad cat and then find your centre in the middle
    • To perform the move, begin to lift the opposite arm to leg
    • Ensure glute muscles are also engaged, to enable the leg lift
    • It is important that you try to maintain the square body (shoulders, hips) as much as possible throughout the exercise
    • Head in line with spine
    • Try to keep the weight in the middle, rather than leaning on one side during the lift
    • And as always... Keep breathing! 

     

    Foot exercises

     

    It is possibly every dancers dream to have beautiful curved beaks when pointing their feet. While improvement is possible, it is important to note that everyone has different types of feet. Whether flat footed or naturally hypermobile, is it essential you consult with your doctor before attempting any of the following recommended exercises.

     

    Towel or pen:
    foot exercise towel
    Begin on the edge of the towel, and reach the end by scrunching your toes to pull.
    Another workout with the same effect is placing pens/pencils on the floor and trying to pick them up with your toes. Also a great workout set out as a game (e.g ‘who can pick up the most in a minute?’).

     

    Rolling:
    foot exercise roll
    This exercise can be used on anything curved, such as a tennis ball, gold ball, massage balls or specifically crafted tools for dancers.

     

    Releves
    foot exercise releves
    Simple yet effective, and can be done in any space. Pushing as high as you can on your releve, making sure the heels stay together, knees stay locked and that the dancer’s core and glute muscles remain engaged throughout the exercise. Great for strengthening the desired muscles of the feet, and also a good strengthening exercise for the calves.

     

    *Exercise can be adapted and progressed by executing it from a raised surface (e.g steps).

     

    Another easy foot exercise is simple point and flex movements on the floor. Working through the feet, extend as much as possible through the point – before re-flexing the feet.

     

    Massaging the foot

     

    foot massagePossibly the one requiring the least effort, would be to get yourself or (even better) a masseuse to deep tissue massage your feet. Whether a dancer or not, working all day on your feet can cause serious stress and tension to your feet. With all the jumping and gripping dancers put their feet through during training, there is much strain that is caused to those areas.

     

    Massaging the feet can loosen up all that tension, and even allow extra mobility once relieved.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    fun factsIn some cases, flat footed feet occur due to babies not going through the arch of the foot when learning how to stand/or crawl.

     

    Please find below a video, demonstrating most of the above foot exercises and more. Remember, everyone’s feet are different, and perfectly curved alignments are not always the most realistic of goals. However, improvements can be made if you follow a routine with the exercises you find most beneficial.

     

     

    slow and steadydance quote
    Remember to never compare yourself to your friends. It is more important to have the correct technique, and work to your own pace – rather than causing yourself injuries due to rushing and careless training. This could create further injuries which could last a lifetime.

     

    It does not matter how low you are in splits, or how high your leg lifts during that kick. This will improve in its own time, depending on your own body, needs and training regime.

     

    Majority of the time, hyperextended people are in more risk due to the lack of strength in their bodies. Therefore it is vital that hyperextended dancers focus more on strengthening their bodies, rather than extending their flexibility.

     

    Everyone’s needs are different. The most flexible dancer isn’t necessarily the strongest. The most expressive dancer isn’t always the most flexible. Dance is a harsh art form, and ‘perfection’ isn’t ever truly achieved. There will always be something to be picked on, whether it is your feet, turnout or posture. It is how you make people feel when they watch you. Most importantly, it is how it makes YOU feel.

     

  • The importance of ballet and the benefits of making it part of your training and lifestyle

    Ballet is a great form of exercise in many aspects. It provides building up strength in areas such as flexibility, co-ordination, balancing, agility and jumping. It is also a great way to make you aware of your body and which areas need working on.

     

    ballet dancers

     

    There is traditional ballet training, specifically aimed for ballet dancers, whose aim is to do this art form as a profession, and then there are also many dance places that offer open adult ballet classes for people of all age and abilities. For those of you from the West Midlands, such classes are offered at DanceXChange in Birmingham city centre, along with many other styles of dancing.

     

    dance class

     

    6 Differences you will see after taking up ballet lessons:

     

    • Improved stamina
    • Improved motor skills
    • Improvement of posture and body alignment
    • Improvement of balance, flexibility and strength
    • An increase in confidence
    • Calorie loss

     

    Mental & Physical Health

     

    Ballet has also proved to be a useful asset for people suffering with Parkinson’s and dementia, as these can cause a decrease in stability and coordination, muscle rigidity and tremors (Pederson, Berg, Larsson, & Lindval, 1997). Further symptoms can also often lead to psychological and social concerns, such as lower self-esteem, less social interaction and depression (Cummings, 1992).

     

    Many establishments have been created in the UK with the aim of improving the mental and physical health of people who suffer from dementia/parkinson’s and many others, and it is an ever-growing community with astonishing results.

     

    Through ballet and dancing, these lessons address problems related to mobility, stability, movement confidence, as well as promoting well-being. Many studies have found that such skills have indeed shown a short term improvement in the discussed areas.

     

     

    Aside from all the benefits in the mind and body ballet lessons provide, another bonus is the social aspect. Children and adults can both benefit from making friendships outside of the school/workplace, surrounded by people with similar aims and interests, creating friendships that will last a lifetime.

     

    Benefits of ballet in sport

     

    Aside from the benefits ballet offer on a day to day well-being, ballet also takes a vital role in many sportspeople’s’ training. Some you could probably guess, however others may come as a surprise and may even shock you. The thought of sports using ballet as part of their training may at first seem ludicrous, however the science behind this may cause you to rethink whether what you believed about ballet in relation to other sports is true.

     

    Artistic & Rhythmic Gymnastics

     

    gynmastics
    Both Artistic and Rhythmic gymnasts use ballet as part of their training, as a way to enhance their performance. As both sports require strength, flexibility and agility, and use exercises such as jumping, spinning and balancing throughout their routines, ballet serves as a great tool for those gymnasts. Body alignment and posture is another benefit for gymnasts who use ballet as part of their training.

     

    figure skatingFigure Skating

     

    Again, very similar to rhythmic gymnastics, figure-skaters use majority of the skills you would find in gymnastics and acrobatics. Aside from the technique side acquired with ballet training, one of the key skills focuses on finding your centre of gravity. This skill is even more crucial with figure skaters, due to the fact that the elements they perform are executed on the ice. Therefore, it is a requirement for skaters to have good balance awareness, as the risks of injury double on the surface of the ice.

     

    Synchronised swimming & diving

     

    synchronised swimmingBoth synchronised swimmers and divers have been known to use ballet as part of their training. When you think of the two, ballet and the respective sports do not seem to have any similarities, however if you spend some time and consider how this could be a benefit to the above sports, you may find that it makes sense how ballet could be beneficial for those athletes. In many ways, synchronised swimming also shares many similarities with gymnastics. Both require strength, flexibility, stamina, correct body alignment, posture and must look aesthetically graceful and effortless. The only major difference would be that one is executed in a pool.

     

     

    male diverHow could ballet benefit divers you ask? Taking a look at the pictures presented, we see divers executing different exercises mid-dive. Divers on the top two images are in the middle of executing a spin mid-air, before making the dive in to the pool. The divers on the last image, again mi-dive, are creating a pike position.

     

    All these skills require elements which ballet could aid in. The co-ordination and flexibility of the torso, required to femlae diverallow the movement into the spin, and then the flexibility to hit that pike position are all part of the foundations which are enlisted in ballet training.

     

     

     

     

     

    divers

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Football Basketball Rugby Hockey

     

    Now, how the above sports may benefit from ballet training might be harder to swallow, as how could ballet possibly benefit a rugby or hockey player.

     

    All of the above sports require speed, agility, flexibility and use all the same muscle groups that are trained and worked on during a ballet class.

     

    Ballet teaches students from a young age how to make full use of the foot. Step by step, ballet dancers learn how to jump, balance and pirouette effortlessly in the correct manner in order to prevent injuries from incorrect use of the muscles in the feet, legs and of the upper body. Athletes in the above sports, lacking this knowledge, tend make incorrect use of the foot and of the lateral side of the calves. This leads to many injuries, which with the correct training could be prevented.

     

    Believe it or not, this is not just a theory. Many athletes in the respective sports have been known to attend a ballet class or two as part of their training. Footballer Rio Ferdinand is a prime example of this. Having taken ballet lessons as a child, Ferdinand leant from a young age how to execute leaping and landing with the correct technique and use of the foot. Having the correct technique decreases the risk of ankle sprains, which is a high risk when players land from jumps. Ensuring correct landing prevents the foot from rolling over the lateral edge, reducing the risk of damage to the cartilage. Lessons can also be sport specific, to ensure the athletes are working the desired areas.

     

    USA basketball and rugby players have also been known to participate in ballet lessons, as all require to be quick on their feet, be able to jump high and stick a landing, spin, be agile and have good co-ordination. Sound familiar? Ask yourself these questions:

     

    • When would a football player be required to spin?
    • When would a basketball or rugby player be required to jump?
    • What would a hockey player be required to have in order to skate?

     

    fun factBallet as a strength- and endurance-building regime has a long history: Originating in the 16th century as an exclusively male pursuit, it was used to train men in the arts of war – fencing, jousting and military discipline.

     

    (KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL/DEIRDRE KELLY MAY 11, 2018).

     

    Below you can watch a couple of videos and hear from the athletes themselves about how ballet has benefited them, and how it has helped them in their sporting careers.

     

    american footballers
    american footballers ballet

     




     

  • Easter Competition

    The rabbits name is

     

    It is not only rabbits that hop and jump, take a look at the Hop and Jump video:

     

     

    Leo the rabbits name

     

    Visit our Facebook page to enter the competition, the winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday 23rd April.

     

    The lucky winner will receive a £10 voucher to use at Nando's or on our website.

     

    Voucher

     

  • Dance School Dance Shows, Festivals and Competitions are all the same aren’t they? NO

    So what are Dance Shows then?
    STAGE
    Dance School Shows differ from Dance Competitions and Festival because they are usually only performed for the parents, relatives and friends of the children. The dancers are not competing with other dance teams, but just give the dancers an opportunity to show what they’ve learned for their family and friends.

     

    Of course there are many other benefits too. For the children dancing it can be an exciting and perhaps a nervous time too. It’s their opportunity to showcase the different dance styles (ballet, tap, modern, hip-hop…) and routines they’ve learned and no doubt they will all want to make their parents, relatives and friends proud of what they’ve achieved. Read more about Competitions & Festivals here.

     

    Newer dancers may never have danced on stage before, so the experience of dancing in front of an audience with bright lights, wearing the same costumes, make-up, hair styles and dancing in groups, duets, trios or even solo, will all be new and nerve racking but very exciting too. Obviously this all helps to build confidence and to overcome nerves. Also, it helps to prepare for exams or competitions.

     

    dance showYounger children may only dance once in a show weekend, but older or more experienced dancers may dance more than one routine in the same show several times over a couple of days (usually weekends) so that the audiences can come at different times to suit their life and work patterns.

     

    Many dance schools will do a show once every two years or maybe one each year. Often this depends on other activities like competitions and exams, where the dance school may already be heavily committed and will not have time for a show in the same year.

     

    Sometimes dances from dance shows may be used for other events such as; Charity events, Fetes, guest appearances in dance productions (e.g. Chance 2 Dance etc.). Or the dance teachers may prefer to choreograph a new routine.

     

    Dance Costumes

     

    Of course one of the big attractions of shows is choosing and wearing costumes instead of just the everyday dance wear used for practice.Gemma Leotard

     

    Usually the dance teacher will decide on the design/style and probably the brand/ where to buy even. They may then order them in bulk in all the different sizes for each of the children who will be taking part in the dance show.

     

    Other teachers may give parent the design styles/make of costume and let them buy individually, but there are obvious benefits if the dance teacher orders in bulk. Not least it makes sure that the costumes are all the same and often the price will be better too!

     

    (Choosing where to buy is obviously down to individual choice, but Dance Gear is unique in offering a huge Made to Order range at very affordable prices, fast delivery and no hassle returns or exchanges.)

     

    Once the dancers have their costumes Including the rights shoes, socks, tights and hair/other costume accessories it is obviously very important to keep everything together where it won’t be lost/dropped or get forgotten.

     

    Keeping the costumes on a clothes hanger in a bag with all the accessories is a good idea. Dance costume bags are also great to store all the costume items in neatly so that they don’t get dirty or creased or damaged.

     

    How do I look?

     

    Every child will want to look their best so making sure you and they know how to arrange their hair and – if required - make-up is important too

     

    Hair styles

     

    The dance teacher will again decide on the hair style they want (maybe on for long hair and one for short hair). Again making sure the hair accessories needed are all there is important (plus some spares!!) so Hair grips, Hair pins, Hairspray, Bobbles, Elastics, Bun-Nets, Bun Covers, Bun-Rings/Rolls and so on.

     

    Make up

     

    Make Up is a big essential for dance shows. How much make up will be worn will obviously depend on the age of the children and their parents/teachers but typically it may be:

     

    dance make up• Age 3-5 – Nothing
    • Age 6-12/13 – Bit of blusher, Lipstick, maybe eye shadow – check for an allergies!!
    • 13+ - Foundation, Eye Shadow, Eye Lashes (if told too), Mascara, Lip Stick, Blusher, Highlighter, Eye Liner etc.
    • Boys - No make-up – unless they wish too.

     

  • Artistic Gymnastics

    Artistic gymnast

     

    There are different forms of gymnastics. Artistic gymnastics, which has been quite successful in Great Britain, has a successful team which is ever evolving, with gymnasts who compete nationally and internationally and place medal positions at events such as the Olympic Games. Artistic gymnastics involves elements such as the balance beam, vault, rings, pommel horse, parallel bars, horizontal bar and the floor exercise. Female gymnasts would perform in four of these (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise), while male gymnasts would perform in six (floor exercise, still rings, vault, pommel horse, parallel and horizontal bars).

     

    During the floor exercise, gymnasts have to perform a routine which includes gymnastics elements such as balances, spins, and tumbling. These would form the main structure of the routine, while in between those elements you would find the choreography. All of the above play an important role in achieving the highest possible mark for the gymnast.

     

    In recent news, there is one particular gymnast who might have caught your attention, as her routine went viral beginning of January 2019. Katelyn Ohashi, is a retired artistic gymnast who recently competed a floor routine with her school UCLA (University of California). Her routine, featuring a Michael Jackson song and choreography scored a perfect ten from the judges. Katelyn recently performed this routine again, only changing the choreography and music choice to songs and movement inspired by Tina Turner, Janet Jackson and Beyonce. The reason for this, is due to the backlash anything Michael Jackson had after the showing of Leaving Neverland broadcasted, and Ohashi who wanted her routines to be inspiring said:

     

    "The goal of my routine is pure joy, and after the documentary, not everyone was feeling that way, and you can never discredit someone’s feelings,” Ohashi said. “So yes, it was in the back of my mind because my main goal is to find as much joy as possible in this routine." (Kady Lang March 22, 2019).

     

     

    This routine is a great example to show how choreography comes into this part of the sport. Traditionally however, floor exercise routines tend to look slightly less dancey, even though choreography is still an important factor.

     

    If you want to check this, videos are available online where you can watch hundreds of artistic gymnastics routines, and the difference in performance is clear. Choreography is still visible, however the execution is slightly more robotic in comparison to what we watched above in Katelyn Ohashi’s routine. Other routines to watch out for are those performed by USA treasure Simone Biles, as this gymnast is quite a performer as well as a powerful gymnast.

     

    latest news

     

    In current news, the 2019 European Championships are being held this week in Szczecin, Poland 10th-14th April. The team representing GB is a powerful one, including all around European champion Ellie Downie and junior European all around bronze medallist Amelie Morgan. This will be Morgan’s first time European event as a senior. Also in the team, is Alice Kinsella, Commonwealth Games beam champion and concluding the womens artistic team is Claudia Fragapane, who has stepped in after replacing 2018 British all-around champion Kelly Simm due to an unfortunate foot injury. This will be Fragapane’s first major event, since the 2017 Wold Championships.

     

    The mens team also consists of names that may be familiar, with Max Whitlock, 2017 European all-around bronze medallist James Hall, 2017 5th all-around European gymnast Joe Fraser, 2018 ring medallist Courtney Tulloch, 2018 all-around British Champion Brinn Bevan and finally, current European floor champion Dom Cunningham.

     

    Coverage for this event will be available across the BBC, or alternatively, links are available on the British Gymnastics (BG) page, where you can watch the event live. Scheduled times are listed on the BG website (link available below).

     

    https://www.british-gymnastics.org/news-and-events/news/latest-news/8232-watch-the-2019-artistic-european-championships-on-the-bbc

     

    For further news and updates you can check out the British Gymnastics twitter page and also updates from the gymnasts themselves on their personal pages.

     

    Wishing the team the best of luck.

     

    Dance Gear

     

  • Aesthetic Gymnastics

    Aesthetic gymnastics is a cross between numerous of sports. Unfortunately, aesthetic gymnastics does not run in the UK, and so many people do not know of its existence. It is extremely popular in Finland, which is where it was founded with the first competitions held in 1950.This is a great sport to get in to, as it involves a mixture of different sports all blended into one.

     

    This extraordinary form of gymnastics includes elements of cheerleading, rhythmic gymnastics (RG), artistic, acrobatic and dancing. The main objective is to combine all of the above, whilst making it look ‘aesthetically’ pleasing. To make all this possible, tremendous effort goes in to the choreography, with a noticeable attention to detail. Many retired gymnasts, dancers and cheerleaders find themselves getting involved with this sport after retirement. Rhythmic gymnastics is very similar to aesthetic gymnastics, as it requires many of the skills used in RG so gymnasts moving from RG to aesthetic gymnastics really excel in the sport.

     

    Aesthetic gymnasts

     

    To look at a rhythmic gymnast, and an aesthetic gymnast, you probably couldn’t tell the difference. Both sports carry the same sort of style, with slit back hair in neat buns, make up, stunning leotards filled with Swarovski crystals, and toe shoes. As many similarities as aesthetic gymnastics has with RG, there are some notable differences. For one, there are more participants involved in an aesthetic gymnastics routine, with six to twelve gymnasts performing altogether during one routine, whereas in rhythmic there are either individuals, or a maximum of five within a group. Furthermore, there are no apparatus used in aesthetic gymnastics, whereas in RG gymnasts can either perform free hand, or use apparatus such as ribbons, hoops, ropes, balls or clubs.

     

    Aesthetic gymnastics also has many elements of dance acro and acrobatic gymnastics. Although much of the structure of the routine is combined by choreography and elements (balances, turns, leaps), the rest is pretty much packed with lifts and tricks. The same sorts you would find in an acrobatics gymnastics routine, or even cheerleading.

     

    Below are a couple of clips featuring snippets from various aesthetic gymnastic moments, explaining a little about what this sport consists of, and clips from choreography, to breath-taking stunts which will have you re-watching each, in order to comprehend how such things are even possible.

     

     

    Aesthetic gymnasts 2

     

    Trivia time

     

    Can you spot the difference?

     

    Can you guess which of the below are rhythmic gymnasts, and which aesthetic gymnasts?

    a.
    a

     

    b.
    b

     

    c.
    c

     

    d.
    d

     

    e.
    e

     

    Answers:

    1. Aesthetic Gymnastics
    2. Aesthetic Gymnastics
    3. Rhythmic Gymnastics
    4. Rhythmic Gymnastics
    5. Aesthetic Gymnastics

     

  • The BBC Dance Season, featuring influential choreographers

    Sir Kenneth MacMillan

    (11 December 1929 to 29 October 1992) Sir Kenneth MacMillan was born in Dunfermline Scotland. He was a British ballet dancer and choreographer who became the artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London between 1970 and 1977 and remained its principal choreographer until his death 29 October 1992. Between 1984 and 1989 became associate director of the American Ballet then artistic associate of the Houston Ballet from 1989 to 1992.
    Sir Kenneth MacMillan

     

     

    Michael Clark

    From the outset, Michael Clark’s performances have been marked by a mixture of technical rigour and experimentation, intense and fine-tuned choreography intersecting with elements of punk, Dada (Dadaism), pop and rock. His productions repeatedly break new ground, provoking and electrifying audiences.
    Michael Clark

     

     

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