Footwork III – Jumping

One of the funny things in the dance world is an overblown sense of pride in many dance teachers. Some athletes, in the interest of improving their abilities have sought out ballet training (notably Lynn Swan, formerly with the Pittsburgh Steelers). Dance teachers tend to believe that they are more aware of the physical capacity for movement of the human body than athletes and coaches and in some cases they are correct. One thing I have been inspired to do is learn from athletes, coaches and sports physiologists. The logic of looking in this direction for knowledge is obvious: millions of dollars are at stake with a college or professional sports teams so millions of dollars have been poured into research in sports physiology to help make athletes and coaches better. One thing I have learned from my studies in this field is what is called “pre-flexing” the ankle. I was taught by my ballet teachers to “go through” the foot when landing from a jump, articulating each joint in the many bones of the feet. This was, unfortunately, bad advice. By “going through” the foot you dissapate strength and elasticity in the muscles and tendons and add to the risk of injury. You will land with more noise as well. When landing from a jump you should actively pull the toes back and flex the ankle from the pointed position just before or right as (depending on the jump) you hit the floor. The same thing applies with the knees. You actively bend the knees just before you hit the ground. You will notice the best dancers doing this intuitively if you watch them in slow motion. The nice thing about this is that it is not my opinion. It is proven science, paid for by sports teams and universities.

Happy Jumping!!


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