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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Prep before class?


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So I'm going to take the plunge and go back to class tomorrow---eeeek! Yay! :) I have my shoes all sewn and I'm ready to go. 

My question is do any of you do a special warm up/prep before class? Is that a good idea? Bad idea? 

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You should spend 15 minutes at least warming up before every class! First do a bunch of jumping jacks and jogging, then warm up your neck, ankles, shoulders, etc. Then you can stretch out calves and hips and feet (I like to roll mine out on a lacrosse ball). Some teachers don’t emphasize the importance of a warm up and a cool down but it is SO IMPORTANT FOR YOUR HEALTH, it’s the difference between getting injured and not getting injured. 

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Welcome and yea for going back to class.

The answer to your question depends entirely on what your body needs and your body will change with age.  

When I was in my 20's or even 30's I would always stretch before doing something like a dance class (I didn't dance at all for a long time though).  Stretching really helped my blood flow and kept my muscles from hurting or being injured when I started to move.  Even when the prevailing wisdom changed from "stretch first" to "warm up then stretch" I continued to do it because it was what my body needed (when I did it the other way, it was not good).  I stretched as a teen too but didn't need to "warm up" much, if at all.

I started dancing again in my late 40's and found that doing a big stretch before a class was not helpful to me, so I stopped.  I have problems with my calves so I would stretch them, but that's it.

I'm now in my mid-50's and I absolutely can not stretch before class or in the first few minutes.  I can do my calves and that's about it.  Stretching too soon causes pain for hours or longer.  I do not even do the "gentle" stretches that others my age and older do, like swinging my arms over my head or circling my neck.

For an evening class I only prep by stretching my calves a bit and holding on to the barre while barefoot and going on releve to stretch my toes (and I stretch them with my hand the other way).  One grande pile is enough, though sometimes I can do 2-3, and a couple cambrais forward; that's my minimum to do other moves (all my classes include these but rehearsal warmup doesn't always).  After barre, I do more serious stretching.

For a morning class, I warm up a lot more slowly.  Sometimes I jump on both feet a bit (bounce mostly).  If I can, I take a short walk.  Then I'm super cautious as I begin barre.

If it's been a while since you've danced, you may not know what works for your *new* body.  Maybe it will be like you never left (in terms of trying moves at least) or maybe you'll be really surprised.  I recommend arriving a bit early so you can walk around the block or parking lot for 5-10 mins and be warm when you enter the studio.

Good luck and have a wonderful time!

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Thanks guys! I will be arriving early because I'm guessing I'll have some sort of paperwork stuff to fill out since it's my first time with this studio, yada yada. I was definitely thinking bounces, and I'll have to walk to get to the studio because parking is sort of nuts, apparently. 

These are great suggestions, thank you! 

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