Attention Hypermobile Dancers: You're Probably Stretching Wrong
When it comes to flexibility, more isn't always better. Donna Flagg says that many of the dancers who show up at her Lastics Stretch Technique classes at studios like Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway are already hypermobile.
"They're so loose," she says, "they just yank their legs as far as they can." That's not to say that hypermobile dancers shouldn't stretch—they just need to take extra care to keep their joints safe. Flagg recommends a few guidelines:
Pay Attention to Your Alignment
Keep ribs over hips, shoulders over ribs, knees over toes, etc. Even when you're stretching, check your profile in the mirror to correct bad habits.
Don't Go So Far You Can't Control the Position
Work to hold the stretch with your muscular strength and proper alignment. Don't flop over or rest on your arms in stretches like second-position splits.
Only stretch as far as you can maintain alignment and control. Photo via Getty Images.
Balance Your Flexibility & Strength
Focus on creating more stability where you're loose and opening up areas that are tight. (Most dancers have flexible inner thighs and hamstrings, with tight hips and quads.)
Don't Push Farther Than You Need To
If you're never going to split your legs more than 180 degrees apart in choreography, there's no need to stretch further than that.
Give It Space
Think of lengthening when you stretch, rather than pushing into the joint.
Don't Give Up
When you first start stretching with proper alignment, you might not be able to go as far as you're used to. But if you keep practicing, you'll get back there.
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?