Describe the attributes of a good dancer. Discuss ways of improving each of these skills in a suitable training programme: (20 marks) A good dancer should have a range of attributes, which they use on a daily basis and in all their work. One of the first attributes of a dancer is having the correct alignment and posture. Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity whilst standing, sitting or lie in positions where the least strain is places on supporting muscles and ligaments. Whilst alignment in dance refers to the posture and position of the body while dancing or preparing to dance. Having correct body alignment improves the posture, muscle tone and length of performing career of dancers. Good posture is used during ballet and contemporary dance mainly as its helps create better balance with little strain on the on your ligaments and muscles as possible. Alignment also improves a dancer’s balance and therefore is an important attribute of a good dancer and it also increases levels of agility and can reduce chances of causing an injury.
To improve your alignment and posture as a dancer you can practise dancing with the correct posture and body alignment and over time you will become use to it and more comfortable doing so. Train to sit up properly and not hunched over when at home for example whilst eating or watching television; this way you’ll eventually be able to do it without thinking whilst dancing so it will come naturally. You can also do exercises at home or incorporated into your dance warm-ups/cool-downs so you can gradually improve on your technique. An example of a exercise you could do at home in your spare time is to sit on a chair, lift your chest and straighten your shoulders.
Move your head back as though you are trying to touch an imaginary wall with the back of your head. Hold this position for ten seconds, relax and repeat up to eight times. As you progress with this exercise try and do it up to three time a day and to improve even more and wider the benefits to other parts of your body you could carry out this exercise sitting on an exercise ball instead of a sturdy chair so you would strengthen your core muscles as well as improving your posture and alignment. Another attribute of a good dancer is to have all round high levels of skill related fitness.
This includes agility, balance, co-ordination, power, reaction time and speed. Agility is the ability to change the position of the body quickly and to control the movement of your whole body. To improve this in training you could create a dance phrase which includes travel and changes of pathways and levels. Every dance class work on this phrase and progressively make it more difficult therefore improving your agility as a dancer. Balance is the ability to maintain the point of balance over the centre of gravity and you can develop this by focusing time on your technique; this may include arabesques, rond de jambe en’lair and pirouettes (using spotting technique). Co-ordination is the ability to use two or more body parts simultaneously this area of fitness can be improved during dance class by doing more complicated phrases as you progress. Power is the ability to do strength performances quickly and involves both strength and speed.
Having a balanced and healthy diet is one of the most important attributes as not only can it improve you dancing it can have positive changes in your everyday life as well. By eating well between your dance classes/ training sessions and at home you will gradually see a change in your dancing as your body needs a high energy source for your stamina and other aspects of dance such as strength and power. There are six different food groups these include; carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, water and fibre. Each of these groups plays an important role in your diet and nutrition as they each help do different things. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen and they provide you with energy so you can do more activity in dance sessions with getting as tired quickly. Fats are stored all over the body in special fat cells; they also provide energy to a dancer but should be consumed in small amounts compared to the rest of the food groups.
The third group protein is found in the muscles and organs; it is needed for growth and repair and therefore is important to a dancer in case they are get injured so they can recover quickly. Vitamins and minerals are stored all over the body and they are needed to increase the strength of your bones, which is highly important in dance as strong bones can prevent injury and means you can have better alignment. Water is another group making up the balanced diet and it is found all over the body seeing as 70% of your body is made up of water. It is a vital factor for the metabolic process and helps get rid of body waste, but most importantly in dance it helps you stay hydrated so you can perform to the best of your ability for longer periods of time. The final group is fibre, it is not stored in the body but passes through; we need it for our intestines to function (mainly the colon) and for our digestive system. As a dancer you should have a good and wide range of knowledge of the muscles in the body and the body’s anatomy; this way you’ll be able to understand the more technical side of dance and the different ranges of movement and will eventually improve your dancing skills.
An attribute of a good dancer is spending time researching the different joints and what they do movement wise, as there is more to dance than just the actions performed. By practising good and safe techniques in class from the knowledge they learn, it will help prevent injury of the dancer. Having high levels of dance fitness is also an attribute of a good dancer; these include cardiovascular fitness, strength, muscular endurance and flexibility. Cardiovascular fitness is the ability to exercise the whole body for long periods of time. Strength is the amount of force you can put forth with your muscles. Muscular endurance is the ability to use the muscles, which are attached to the bones, many times without getting tired and can improve your posture. Finally flexibility is the ability to use your joints fully. You are flexible when the muscles are long enough and the joints are free enough to allow movement. You can improve all of these in training sessions/dance classes by focusing on your fitness in warm-ups.
An example of a warm-up you could do before a dance lesson could be doing five shuttle runs, twenty plie’s in second, twenty parallel squats followed by twenty crunches and then holding a twenty second plank and doing this three times. You can adjust this warm up as you progress by increasing the amount of times you do a certain activity or how long you hold the plank. You can also make it harder for example doing the plank on one foot for twenty seconds and then on the other foot for twenty seconds. This whole warm up covers every aspect involves in dance fitness and the more you complete it the fitter you will gradually become. Good dancers also have spent a long time improving their performance skills during dance practise and doing lots of rehearsal until they get it right. The performance skills they work on are focus, projection, style and musicality. Focus is the use of the eyes and where you direct them during different aspects of the dance whilst doing certain movements.
For example if you were doing an arm circle above your head you would direct your focus to the arm, it helps the audience interpret the qualities of the dance and draws their attention to the most important parts of the movement. Projection is when a dancer gives out a certain type of energy from the body, this gives the movement a noticeable quality, and you exaggerate certain actions more than others, making a movement obvious and stand out. An example of projection would be a lunge to your right with an out stretched arm reaching to the end of your kinesphere. Style is the individual features of a choreography or performance that make us recognise a certain dancer’s performance and personal interpretation. A good dancer will spend rehearsal time practising certain movements of their style to make it original and fit them by doing this you can improve your dance performance.
Musicality is how a dancer is able to perform in a relation to the music, so say if they’re is a climax in the music they would create a climax in their dance to fit this. They may also do contrasting movements compared to the music or do movements with similar or matching dynamics. This will fit into you training programme by including them every time you dance so they will eventually come naturally to you and you will do them all the time without realising. To conclude good dancers have a wide range of attributes which they use all the time to get to a high level of performance in dance. These include attributes which now they subconsciously use from great practise and ones which they have to constantly work on and keep up to a good/high standard for example diet and health.