Magazine article Dance Spirit

Fly Away

Magazine article Dance Spirit

Fly Away

Article excerpt

Flexibility does play a part in leaps, but it isn't everything.

-Jessica Walz

Leapin' lizards! How'd she get so high? If you think that lovely leaps are only for the naturally (or unnaturally) flexible, think again. Anyone can go airborne with a little practice and jets know-how. Here's how you, too, can have sky-high leaps that knock the socks off the competition.

* LIMBER UP

Before you leap, it's important to warm up and stretch. Start with some cardio exercises to get your heart rate up and your body warm before you give those muscles a run for their money. Take your time and breathe into each stretch. This will help you to protect yourself from injury and increase your flexibility, making you more apt to reach your full range of motion. Pay special attention to your hamstrings (for exercises, see DS November 2001, page 70)--they're easy to pull and hard to heal. Only when you feel warm and limber are you ready to leap.

* GETTING OFF THE GROUND

"To execute a good leap, you have to start from the beginning and define what a lead is," says former UDA instructor Jessica Walz. "It's more or less springing from one foot to another. You need to start with a strong pli6." From your plie, brush through first position with the leg that will be in front and push off the ground with the leg that will be in the back. The deeper your plie, the higher you can leap.

* SHOW A LITTLE LEG

In the ideal leap, both legs are at equal height. Some dancers focus so much on getting the first leg up that the back leg is forgotten. Keep your hips and shoulders square and concentrate on extending the back leg, even if this lowers the front one. …

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