Lots of rehearsal and class time can go into training our dancers to have strong, clean arm lines and a well held upper body. It can mean the difference between a good routine and a great routine. When everyone has the same angle and intensity it really adds to uniformity and precision.
It’s important to understand that strong doesn’t always mean sharp so this teaching tip applies to ballet and lyrical students too.
Explain to students that arm lines start from the centre of the spine and work their way out. Try these warm up exercises to help them feel that part of the body
1. Shoulder shrugs- Move shoulders up and down slowly and get them to feel the muscles under the arms and around the shoulder blades (scapula) that they use to do that movement.
2. Shoulder Rolls- This mainly uses the same muscles but also adding the feeling of the centre of the spine and the muscles in that area.
3. Expand your Wings- Breathing exercise. Hold the shoulders down and feel the side of your ribs expand as you breath in. Once that is happening you can add the extension of the arms sideways like a balloon expanding.
When you give them an arm extension remind them to think about it coming from their body. Remind them to engage their core and torso then move the arm. Feel the movement right through to the ends of the fingertips and commit to the energy.
It’s important to establish and understanding that we dance from the inside out, not the other way. This will give you a more technically secure dancer and provide more natural, organic movement that is strong and considered.