Super Hero’s!

Da, da, da,da, da da, BAT MAN!.  Super Hero’s is reminiscent of my “bat” days!  The adrenaline  fix you get from doing triple aerials across the performance floor with giant bat wings  spread wide open in front of 3 to 5 thousand people.  Beside you are little spider people crawling up the side of a make shift building, as superman figures tumbled over each other.  Wonder Woman was a hit in those hot little shorts we had to wear.  Hated the wigs!  Productions !All in all, it was a costume miracle.

We started with a Wonder Woman routine, and quickly slid the batman costume over the  top of the Wonder Woman costume.  Lastly we would lose our bat wings and head coverings,  and slip on a cop or fireman vest and hat, as we ended with a tribute to 911.

It was an amazing dance, and it took the energy of everyone involved to pull it off at nationals in Las Vegas.  Moms, dads, brothers, aunts and uncles – everyone helped.

In the finale   everyone was in police and fire fighter costumes,  pulling out a giant America flag that filled the gym floor.  Getting those little kids to transition from point A to point B took a lot of practice.  Not losing the flag holds was also a challenge.

It was really great to have all the support from the older dancers back stage helping with costume changes, and parent volunteers working on our make shift town, and also  changing costumes and setting up props.

I swear we went through 6 cans of hair spray every time we did this routine, just to spray the bottom of the little dancers shoes.

Major productions of this type take months to learn, build, and organize.  If you don’t have a good support team within your parents and volunteers – then you need to learn how to build that relationship.  They really are the true super hero’s. They make and transport props. They make costumes, and flags, and work with tools that are impossible, like plastic vests and rhinestones, and ply wood villages.

Making sure you have dance instructors who have experience when putting together a production of this size is critical.  No one knows the transitions on the floor better than someone who has danced them, been a part of it, and understands the dynamics of a production dance.

It’s poor planning if you think you can just buy the costume, build a few props and call it a dance.  No, the real struggle comes in the organizing and choreography for all those little people on the stage, and the volunteers back stage. It’s work!

I did a Harry Potter piece when I was younger.  It’s a  learning process for instructor to know how  to buy the  right costume for their dancers.  Sometimes you just have to learn through experience what fits, and what doesn’t.  It’s okay to modify costumes – please do, make it easy for your dancers movements.

Jumping off boxes is also a hard thing to do when you have on 2 or 3 costumes underneath your current one.   If you are going to have to double up on costumes for timing sake, your base costume should be  shorts -preferable of spandex material.   Remember that the outer costume can be the most difficult for dancers to switch into.  Material should be checked so it doesn’t ride up the body, have static cling, and/or crumple under other material.  MATERIAL   MATTERS!!!

Six foot drops, plus leaping distance, and two costumes.

I borrowed one of the sections of the dance We Different to show you dual costumes in use with leap drops from 6 foot up.

Unfortunately during this routine, we had one of our older dancers who fell and broke her arm.  Shoes and slick floors are really something to pay attention too.  That is the number one reason I love PAWS dance shoes.  Maybe not good for 6 foot drops, but when I’m not flying through the air, I love the feel of my foot turning on the floor without jazz boots.  Raw and real – PAWS dance shoes.  Get your teams into paws.  I hate to sound like a commercial – but….

I do understand that you can’t dance without wearing jazz boots in drill team, so take some hair spray with you.  Learn to spit.  I’m serious.

Sometimes directors take creative expression to the extreme.  Maybe your dancers can deliver, maybe they really can’t.  It really depends on the age, and ability of each individual dancer.  I spent my youth turning and tumbling every year in solo, team and production numbers.  When I look back on it, everyone wanted the lime light, but only a few really got it.  The better you were at tumbling and turning, and willing to take a risk – the more chances of being selected.

Having said that, I see a number of people I danced with who can no longer dance, due to damage they did in their younger years.  I’m seeing knee injuries, hips, thighs, you name it,  those are the dancers who played hard.  Directors  need to make weight training and stretching mandatory  for all dancers .  It’s not optional!  If you don’t do it – your dancers will start to have down time , or be completely out.  It’s gym time…..!

Dance is no different than football when it comes to work outs and training.  You work your tail end off.  If you see people now in their 20’s who can still tumble and turn, I hope you will respect what they have done to get there and stay there.  A lot of gym time to prepare.  Football or dance, what’s the difference?  None.

Productions are wonderful to watch.  But directors need to use precautions when expressing their creative rights when it comes to younger dancers.  Some dancers just develop more rapidly than others. You can’t expect all tumblers to get it at the same time.  It doesn’t happen that way.  For some it never does.  As directors, you have to recognize the levels, and help dancers  find other ways of expression.

Enjoy your productions and your time with your students and volunteers.  But look out for safety issue right away.   Train your volunteers to look for safety issues.  Every meeting you have, explain that your first priority is safety.  Then dance.

Da, da, da, da da, BAT MAN.  I loved the costumes.  I loved the tumbling, still do.   Loved being able to put together dances for the younger kids, still do – always will.  Dance should be shared with those who hunger for it.

I don’t want dancers who want to dance. I want dancers who have to dance.” -George Balanchine.

Stepping – Cross Training for Strength

I’m always looking for extra activities to  mix up my routine.

If you are looking for a good cross training activity for strength, and to give you variety in your exercise program, try running  stairs.  Great for when you might have a summer dance moratorium.  Helps keep you in shape during the down time.

Stepping is a great cardiovascular workout, that also gives your legs a workout.  Stepping is a great exercise  that helps strengthen those hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes – and it helps work off that extra cellulite.

Using  two sets of stairs separated by about 20 or 30  feet of bleachers is allyou need.  No expensive gym costs, and no exercise equipment needed.  Just a good set of running shoes and a little bit of motivation.

Since I am not an exercise expert, you should  check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise program.

Be careful if you use weights when you step.  I don’t know of anyone whorecommends using ankle weights while running or stepping, probably because they add extra stress on the already weak areas of your body.   I’ve also never heard of a professional runner who uses them either.

When starting a stepping program, it is a good idea to chart how many steps you do per repetition.

Arrows show direction of reps

Here is a simple repetition start up program:

Up 20   steps
-Down 20 steps
-Run across  the bottom row (flat platform)
-Up 20  steps
-Down 20 steps

Five repetitions will give you a pretty good workout if you are doing 20 steps.

Skip steps as you get stronger, and add more reps later on as well.

Number of Steps Number of Columns of steps Repetitions
1 to 2 weeks 5 1
2 to 3 weeks 10 1 to 2
5 weeks 20 2 to 3

Start off with a couple reps, and gradually increase as you get stronger.  Go slower at the beginning  and add steps gradually as you build endurance.

As you get stronger, you can try skipping steps too.

Take a buddy along to keep you company and challenge each other to work harder.

Have Fun!