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Dance
Stretching- All rounder

Here are some excercises and stretches to help you improve All-round  

YOU WILL NEED:
- Yourself (although there are many effective stretches which require a partner, these can be difficult to pracise on a regular basis.)
- Clothes which will allow you to STRETCH (ie - Jeans are not recommended)!! :)
- A clock
- A flat space, should be carpeted or a rug, mat or something. Enough room to do splits.
- An ACTION PLAN (read more about them in no. 2) For your action plan, you will need some kind of notebook.
- Decication and patience.



1) Time-to-stretch

Pick a regular, daily (or it could be 2 or 3 times a day) time to stretch. Pick the time of your favourite TV show. A half hourly show is fine - one hour is more intense!!

2) Action Plan

Establish a few goals you want to achieve. Vary them. For example, one of your goals may be to touch your toes in pike. If you are already very close, aim to touch them by the end of the month. For something more challenging, like middle splits (if you are a long way from the ground), aim to IMPROVE them in a fews months time. Or be able to do them by the end of the YEAR.

DON'T MAKE UNREALISTIC GOALS! DON'T MAKE HUGE GOALS! (for ex. if you have never stretched in your whole life, don't aim to be able to do splits by the end of the week. Stretching takes TIME, DEDICATION, and PATIENCE! The bigger the goals, the harder it is to see you doing them. Feel good and achieve something SMALL first. See improvement!


3) Warm-Up

5-10 minutes before the show starts, warm up.
Try: running around, running on the spot, jumping, skipping etc. Make sure you're warm. Start to stretch when the show starts.

4) Break up your time

Don't spend the whole time trying to get down in splits. Spend a bit of time of ALL body parts. If you want to CONCENTRATE on one area, do so, but change it the next day.

LOOK AT YOUR CLOCK!

Why don't you spend:

- 10 minutes stretching hamstrings and legs
- 5 minutes stretching your back (DO NOT OVERDO YOUR BACK!! PLEASE BE CAREFUL)
- Spend another 5 minutes strecthing for splits
- etc etc. 1 or 2 minutes in splits at a time is ENOUGH! Don't spend half an hour sitting in splits (unless you are EXTREMELY flexible - but then again, why would you need to?). It will HURT!

5) Arrrgh! The pain!

- if it hurts a LOT - ease your stretch
- never bounce a stretch
- if you are extremely sore, TAKE IT EASY! stretch nice and gently
- NEVER force your body. STRETCH GENTLY!

6) Your own stretch dictionary

Here's where you can also use your action plan notebook. Make subheadings on pages. Things like:

- stretches for splits
- stretches for the back
- stretches for touching your toes
- etc.

Search around for stretches. Try dance.net, under STRETCHING and www.balletalert.com . . .. Register, and you can posts queries, which will be answered by dance teachers and professionals.

When you find a good one, try it. Go through this checklist:

- does it stretch a particular part of the muscle without overly HURTING it?
- is it an easy position for you? (ie, you're not standing on your head with your leg around you ear type thing)
- does it isolate stretching to a specific body part?

Write it in in your notebook. If it has a diagram - GREAT! Print it, or draw your own. Stick it in.

Try your library. Look for books on ballet, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics - even Yoga and Pilates. Add the most effective stretches to your book.

7) USE YOUR NOTEBOOK!

Soon you will have a LOT of good stretches. Go through them. Don't always listen to others when they say some stretches work MAGIC for them. It may work for them, but not for you. TRY them. You'll find some are ineffective and downright dangerous! (If something seems to be very, very difficult or dangerous, chances are it probably is. If you don't think you're up to it - DON'T DO IT)


8) If it helps, print this page out. If you don't think you'll remember, you probably won't.

9) Fill in your progress. It works wonders for your motivation. Any sign of imporvment will help you stay focused.
                            
                                          dance.net, ballet_4eva


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