5 Ways To Become More Flexible, According to Stretch Therapists
Dancers are always trying to find more flexibility in their bodies. But what's the best way to do it?
We asked former dancers Ann and Chris Frederick, creators of Fascial Stretch Therapy, which targets connective tissue rather than isolating individual muscles. They recommend following these five principles to find the greatest range of motion within your body:
Don't just hold one position.LINES dancer Courtney Henry. Photo by Quinn Wharton
Move through stretches in gentle waves. Not only will motion better prepare your body for dancing than sitting in a static position would, it also opens up different angles within a stretch.
Create space in the joint first.
Open up the joint, then bring your limbs closer to you. Photo by Unsplash
By gently pulling a limb away from the socket (such as the hip joint) before going into a stretch, you'll be able to stretch further.
Stop before it's painful.
If you go too far, the brain will fight back. Photo by Emily Sea/Unsplash
The brain interprets pain as a signal that something is wrong, so a painful stretch ends up being counterproductive.
Stretch with a bent knee before stretching a straight leg.
Open up the hips and glutes before the hamstrings. Photo by Justyn Warner/Unsplash
"There are 34 muscles across your hips—why would you start with the toughest hamstring muscle?" asks Chris. By stretching the smaller muscles in the hip and back first, you can increase the hamstrings' range of motion by 20 to 50 percent.
Have someone else do it for you.
A specialist can stretch you in ways you can't do yourself. Photo via performancestretchtherapy.com/fascial-stretch-therapy
When you're lying down relaxed, an expert can find imbalances that you might not notice yourself, then give you stretches that you can do on your own before chronic injuries appear.
You can find a fascial stretch therapist near you at stretchtowin.com/directory.
New York City–based choreographer and director Jennifer Weber once worked on a project with a strict social media policy: " 'Hire no one with less than 10K, period'—and that was a few years ago," she says. "Ten thousand is a very small number now, especially on Instagram."
The commercial dance world is in a period of transition, where social media handles and follower counts are increasingly requested by casting directors, but rarely offered by dancers up front. "I can see it starting to show up on resumés, though, alongside a dancer's height and hair color," predicts Weber.
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?