Ann recommends:

A stretch that is good to start with is the *hurdlers stretch* or so they called it in my middle school PE classes.  Sit on the floor with one leg sticking out to the side and the other tucked in (like if you were sitting cross legged, but stuck the other leg out) then point your toes, and reach for the toes on the leg that is sticking out.  Also do this with your foot flexed.  You can also do the same thing with both legs spread out.  Stretch toward one foot, then the other, both with feet pointed and with feet flexed.  Keep your legs turned out, so that your knees and your shoelaces pointed behind you.

Another stretch is to put your leg up on a piece of furniture that is about hip height, make sure your hips are square (parallel to the object, at right angles with your leg) and your leg is turned out.  Keep your back knee straight, and bend over and reach towards our toes.

To get better at jumping higher, I would recommend: Jumping! practice leaps over and over, each time trying to lift higher, you want to push off from behind, and think of lifting your whole body up, not just your legs. Imagine there's a string going through your spine, up through your head and pulling you upwards.

My daughters Katie and Kerri recommend the New York City Ballet Workout book and DVD, which contains stretches to improve flexibility and build strength.  To improve turnout, Kerri recommends taking ballet lessons. Katie recommends not pushing too much if you don't have good hip rotation, as that can lead to tendonitis.

The following set of information is generously provided by Ariel Bennett TCRG of Heritage Irish Stepdancers, Denver, Colorado (email: ). Take your time going through this, as there is a lot of great stuff here!

  • Warm-ups 
  • Stretches - including:

    Standup Stretches
         Arm Circles
         Neck Bends
         Sliding Side Bends
         Extended Toe Touches
         Extended Side Bend
         Calf Stretch
    Sit-down Stretches
         Sitting Position
         Seated Side Bends
         Seated Toe Touches
    Lying-Down Stretches
         Lying-Down Position
         Leg Tucks
         Leg Extensions
         Buttocks Stretch

  • Exercises - including:

    Lying On Stomach Exercises
         Quad Stretch
         Torpedo Posture
         Opposite Extensions
         Leg Lifts
    Kneeling Exercises
         Angry Cats
         Kneeling Leg Lifts
         Ceiling Leg Lifts
         Kneeling Calf Stretch
         Rest Position
    Abdominal Exercises
         Lying-Down Position
         Regular Crunches
         Leg-Up Crunches
         Leg Raises
         AB Extensions

    Leg/AB Combinations
         Foot Flexors
         Straddle Flexors
    Upper Body Exercises
         Hula Arms
         Arm Stretches
    Other Exercises
         Point and Flex
         Ankle Stretches

  • Dance Workout - including:

    Dance Positions
         Standing Position (Stance)
         Foot Position
         Crossing Your Feet
         Pointing Your Toe
    Dance Exercises
         Standing point exercise
         Cross/Turnout/Balance Exercise
         Hopping point exercise
         Point and lift exercises
         Hopping exercise
         Jumping exercise
    Improving Turnout
         Exercise 1
         Exercise 2
         Exercise 3

Theresa has a great tip:

    I discovered a new way to really get down to the nitty-gritty on your steps today: videotape your dances, but then watch them in slow motion! I don't know if all VCRs have this option, but mine is by pausing and then holding the pause button. It really helps me notice things that I hadn't caught before.

A common technique for improving stamina is to be able to do your steps two or even three times straight through. You may feel like dying the first few times you do this, but with enough practice, your last time through should look nearly as good as your first! This not only improves your stamina, but your overall technique.



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