Correct Dancer Body Placement & Posture

As prominent educators of dance, it is our job to figure out our students subconscious minds in class. You have to know what it is that makes your students light bulb go off, and their technical abilities click.

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Your dancers and students should be performing their technique from their unconscious mind, rather than from their conscious minds. It should be drilled into their mind, body, and soul, so movement and correct body placement happens naturally without them even thinking about it.

Here are some analogies I have gathered from other educators and teachers, that I currently instill in my students.

  1. “Pull up your neck.” We constantly see shoulders up to the ears in classes, but instead of just saying “Press your shoulders down,” include “lengthen the back of the neck” as well. Pressing the shoulders down engages the laterals for their arm positions, while lengthening the back provides a sense of movement and opposition while doing so. Everything in dance works in opposition, when you are going down you are pulling up, and vise versa. Literally, EVERY single movement in dance works in opposing energy.
  2. “Squeeze your lunch” or “Zip up your corset.” Have you found that every time you tell a student to pull up their stomach, their rib cage explodes open? It happens every time. One of the things that will help this is to tell them to pull their stomachs in from the back of the spine, rather than from the belly button (hence a contraction, right?). Pulling the back of the abdominal wall into the spine will cause the energy of the spine to separate upwards and downwards. You can also tell them to imagine they have a zipper below their belly button, and as the zip it up, everything goes inwards like a corset. I find the second one works the best with young dancers still learning about their bodies.
  3. “Tilted pelvis, or sitting back in the hips.” In order to get the pelvis in line, I ask all the students to take their finger and find their tail bone. Then press on it softly, press it down, and squeeze your bum cheeks to hide your finger. (Not the prettiest image, but it works). You never want to use the term “tuck your pelvis or tailbone.” Instead tell them to pull their tailbones to the floor, and lift up in their hip flexors at the same time. Sort of like a set of blinds, when you pull the string down, the shades go upwards. Again… opposition yes?
  4. “Energy through the back of the neck and head.” A final touch for perfect posture is to think of the back of your neck and head always pressing backwards slightly. Keep your students chin tilted downwards slightly and walk around the room gently pressing your palm on the back of their heads to feel the energy. This will help them lengthen the spine and pull the neck out of the shoulders even more.
  5. “Iliotibial Band (IT Band).” The IT Band starts at the top of the pelvis and runs down the side of the leg and attaches to the knee. It is really important to stretch this to prevent a lot of common hip and knee injuries in dancers. Stretching the IT Band is a bit more difficult than a normal muscle due to the thick fibrous tissue it is made of. The best stretch I have found to work is the following:
  • Sitting in pike position on the floor with flexed feet, take your left arm and grab the outside of the right foot.
  • Lift up the leg about 45 degrees, keeping the back as flat as possible.
  • Carry the leg across the body over your left leg, and reach behind you with your right arm gently twisting the focus and spine behind you. Be sure to keep your legs parallel and sit up nice and tall!

ITB6. “A simple Plie.” A plie is the simple basic move in dance where almost everything comes from. It is one of the most important foundations to learn correctly. When teaching your students a plie, make sure the dancers are lifting up from the hip flexors and using their core the lengthen their upper body upwards from the plie. It is important to lengthen the toes into the floor and stay connected, you should feel like you could jump or sote’ from a plie at any given time! Lastly, every time you bend the knees to go down, make sure your dancers energy is going up, and when straightening the legs you are pressing downwards into the floor. I love how my teacher would say “push the floor away from you.” It gives it such a different feeling and leaps become so much easier!

 

 

 

Beyonce’s Backup Dancer in SA!

Come take class with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and JLo’s backup dancer at
Collaboration Dance Workshop!!
Yes! you read correctly, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga’s dancer Deana Brickley will be here from the USA teaching at the event below. Along with fellow American Tamra Chace and South African Amy Rosslind.
 
COLLABORATION is the largest dance workshop in the South Africa. Each event includes a top-rate workshop, with more cass time offered than any other workshop in the industry. COLLAB also offers a first-class scholarship audition with fair, credible judging in a fun and supportive environment.

COLLABORATION is something that’s high energy, fresh and innovative. It is a change from the assembly line of dance workshops across SA. Most importantly, it’s an inspiring, educational event for all levels and ages!

Juniors: Ages 8-12
Seniors: Ages 13 & Up

June 18th & 19th at Southdowns College
Junior Section: 8.00-12.00pm
Senior Section: 12.00-5.00pm

R950 if paid and registered by June 1st. R1,100 there after. …

Includes weekend of all classes, professional photographer, scholarship audition, and free entrance to the Tam Tam Fashion Show & Dancers Mingle that Saturday night!

REGISTER HERE: https://collabdance.typeform.com/to/NX4Raf

Collaboration June 2016 final

Company Pressure

Is it possible to join a dance company, without the high-profile training credentials?

Chace Dance Company

When Chace Dance Company’s principal dancer Tamsyn Dexter was a mere high school student, she earned a position in the professional contemporary company. She loved their work and knew she wanted to dance professionally one day. These days, there are many promising dance students leaving home for professional schools, hiring prestigious coaches, and jetting from one competition to the next! Those who unfortunately lack the funds for such training may feel discouraged or less confident about making it as a professional dancer. But here we have a few training ‘disadvantages’ in todays high-profile world. This is how you can make sure your career will be on track.

Humanity

 

  1. I train at my local home studio. Now with the extreme increase demanding versatility in dancers, it is hard to get that needed depth and variety of study at a small town studio. This is why leaving home for elite dance universities and summer programs becomes so appealing. They can provide extensive partnering, character, pointe work, etc as well as increasing your performance hours. Students dance amongst more advanced peers and have a chance to be seen by directors and choreographers. But with that said, at auditions it’s not the name of your studio that will get you the job, it comes down to if you are a talented dancer or not. With that said, dancers who only dance locally at home need to be brutally honest with themselves and ask yourself if you about the quality and versatility you are getting from your training. Perhaps there are no boys for partnering, or not enough guest teachers, or few opportunities to learn different styles. These are all important elements for your future. It is up to you to supplement what is needed through workshops, master classes, and more to get a well-rounded dance education.
  2. I’m not home schooled. Many students will forgo regular schooling in order to fit more hours of training into their daily routine. But the problem here would mea giving up that traditional high school experience. This decision doesn’t have to be all or nothing, there are plenty options to cut back on some things in order to fit in more dance work. It can become difficult for all of us to maintain normal friendships when you have chosen the path of dance. When your friends want to go to the movies or a party, you have to say no because you have a responsibility of rehearsals, it’s not an easy task. You have to know this is what you want and stay focused on your dreams and your goals.
  3. I don’t compete. Dance competitions can be a very sensitive topic, but when they are approached the right way they can be very beneficial. At competitions you gain a lot of exposure in the community and industry, and the potential to boost resumes from awards and scholarships. They also teach you to learn how to perform under pressure while building confidence onstage and how to take corrections and feed back. If you don’t have the funds or means to compete at a big time competition, that’s okay. You can ask your studio to host an in-studio competition where everyone can perform a few pieces and receive feedback and a grading scale. Or even better you can just attend the competitions as a viewer! You can really learn so much just by watching.
  4. I don’t have any private lessons. Private lesson feedback is vital to any aspiring dancer, but it doesn’t mean you have to book private lessons all the time. You just need to learn to take corrections and feedback from your normal classes and always apply it as if the teacher was just correcting you. Really honing in and focusing in that class time will make you grow technically speaking, so much quicker.

Atterbury Theatre

Gaining Exposure. At an audition the biggest advantage to your competitors is exposure. So you train hard, and always try to meet as many people as possible. It’s not what you know… it’s who you know! When you are first starting out you should work on building relationships most importantly. And it is good to see people multiple times. If you want a position as a dancer in a company, go to all of their workshops, open classes, shows, anything that they are hosting. This way you can build a relationship with the other company dancers and eventually the director will think, “Hey, I’ve seen you in classes before, I know you!” That my friend, is what will get your foot in the door.

So do you need classical, high name training to land the next gig? The answer is no. Yes it helps by miles, but as long as you can show your passion on the dance floor, work extra hard in the classes you do take, and work on building your network and relationships, your next audition will be in the bag!

 

Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Glee Dancer in SA!

lady gagadeana intrigueDeana Rockettes

COLLABORATION is the largest dance workshop in the South Africa. Each event includes a top-rate workshop, with more class time offered than any other workshop in the industry. COLLAB also offers a first-class scholarship audition with fair, credible judging in a fun and supportive environment.

COLLABORATION is something that’s high energy, fresh and innovative. It is a change from the assembly line of dance workshops across SA. Most importantly, it’s an inspiring, educational event for all levels and ages!

This year we are happy to announce our Guest Teacher from the USA, Deana Brickley!
Deana BrickleyDeana Brickley, hails from Orlando, Florida, and is one of the dance community’s most accomplished dancer and choreographer. She had the honor of being a New York City Radio City Music Hall Rockette for several seasons. Among her other accomplishments are: the TV show Glee, Smash, Lady Gaga Beyonce, and has performed with Jennifer Lopez at the American Music Video Awards, America’s Got Talent. She has worked with many other prestigious artists and choreographers including assisting the Emmy award winning SYTYCD choreographer, Tessandra Chavez and Mia Michaels.
w/ Tamra Chace
TAM-9050
& Amy Rosslind
Amy Rosslind
Juniors: Ages 8-12
Seniors: Ages 13 & UpJune 18th & 19th at Southdowns College
Junior Section: 8.00-12.00pm
Senior Section: 12.00-5.00pm
 Includes weekend of all classes, professional photographer, scholarship audition, and free entrance to the Tam Tam Fashion Show & Dancers Mingle that Saturday night!

REGISTER HERE: https://collabdance.typeform.com/to/NX4Raf

 

A Dancers Health

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Just like athletes, dancers exert an insane amount of energy on a daily basis. In order to perform at your utmost best, you need to know how much energy to intake as well the right kind of energy to intake. Your diet should consist of a variety ranging from carbohydrates, proteins, unsaturated fats, sugars (kept to a minimum) to fibres, nutrients, minerals and fluids (water should be your best friend!).

According to ausdance.org.au, an easy way to determine how many kilojoules you as a dancer requires per day during a hectic day of rehearsals, use the ratio of 190 – 210 kJ per kilogram of bodyweight for females and 210 – 230 kJ per kilogram of bodyweight for males.

Eating a diet with a variety of foods carries many benefits and will ensure that you are well fuelled for your life as a dancer. Your diet should consist of 55 – 60 % of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the most important energy source for the muscles. The best kinds of carbs are complex carbs, e.g. whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots and zucchini. Proteins are the next most important food group and can be found in foods like meat, poultry (chicken), fish, eggs, nuts and beans. You need about 20% protein in your diet. Milk and dairy products would be where you would get your minerals such as calcium, however, you only need 15% of it in your diet. Lastly, keep your fats and sugars to a minimum. They do only need to make up 5% of your diet after all!

Dehydration, dizziness, headaches, constipation and digestive problems; these are just some of the effects that not drinking enough water can have on your body. Drinking water is extremely important for dancers during performances as well, as they help prevent muscle cramps. A dancer should drink about 2,5 to 3l per day.

Taking care of your health is just as important as taking care of your technique. Both are vital to your future success in your dance career. We at Chace Dance Company, hope this post helps you understand your body and what it needs a bit more. Remember that being healthy is not only based on what you eat, but is a lifestyle. Enjoy life, have fun, and above all, dance as much as you can!

-KEMELO SEHLAPELO

“Humanity” CDC’s Trailblazing Performance

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“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Luckily, the dancers of Chace Dance Company have both. Artistic director Tamra Chace has once again outdone herself and this was evident in the choreography for “Humanity”. Variety stood at the forefront of this year’s show, with genres like jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and even some hip hop flair. Although pressed for time, she never let those constraints get to the ultimate goal: produce an incredible show. Was it a success? According to the feedback given by the audience afterwards, it definitely was.

“Humanity” saw the rise of Tamsyn Leigh Dexter, CDC’s oldest member, as a soloist. This was something she had been working towards and performed with the perfect mix of grace and strength during her time on stage. It also saw the rise of different kind of soloist, newcomer Jenna Fieldgate. A fierce and powerful dancer, Ms Fieldgate’s solo was choreographed to fit her dance style seamlessly.

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Dancers were pushed to both their emotional limits – in pieces such as ‘We Don’t Eat/Breaking The Norm’, ‘Until Then’ and the contemporary-hip hop fusion ‘Islands’. And, let’s not leave out the physically demanding pieces such as ‘The Hunt’, ‘Corporate’ and ‘Earth’.

The show ended on a powerful note, and revealed just how much CDC dancers are capable of. Leaving their hearts and souls on the stage, “Humanity” proved to be set the bar for South African contemporary dance.

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Check out what went into making “Humanity”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4DlPjUrFMw

-Kemelo Sehlapelo

Contemporary Dance Opens Up

Chace Dance Company Turns 4 Today!

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Few companies in South Africa survive, and Chace Dance Company is greeting its fourth season running!

What does it feel like to start the fourth year? Just ask the dancers. “Extravagant!” “Energetic!” and “Passionate!” Exhausted and sweaty after hours of rehearsals, the dancers rally back onto the dance floor in a circle to reflect on the journey of producing the new show “Humanity,” Debuting Saturday night at Atterbury Theatre. They are using the words love, strength, endurance, and family, to describe what it has been like. Both onstage and in the studio, their dedication to their art and to each other gives even the most casual onlooker a clue into the company’s secret to success and longevity.

“Chace reminds everyone that is a family… not a job.” says company dancer Tamsyn Dexter. “These dancers love each other.” And Chace always uses that as a motive when hiring a new dancer, you have to look at the person they are, not just what talent they have. “I would rather cast a dancer who is smart, humble, and hard working, than someone who is over confident and more naturally talented..” says Chace.

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What began in 2013 as a band of five dancers practicing from studio to studio has grown into a robust troupe of 11, with a 9 month contract. Today’s CDC boasts a repertoire of 30 pieces that integrates ballet, modern, jazz, and even hip hop. All of the works have ben choreographed by Tamra Chace; but this year the company will be introducing a Co-Choreographer Jacquie Graham. Versatility is a MUST for CDC dancers!

One annual home season is at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria, South Africa. But with big plans to produce two new productions for 2017, along with outreach programs and residencies in the country. Devoted Pretoria audiences routinely stand up and cheer for its high octane performances!

With contemporary dance now crossing genre boundaries, CDC’s expanding repertoire has raised technical demands on their dancers, making it necessary for training in ballet, modern, and even jazz. Chace insists that professional dancers stay on top of their game, integrating a traditional ballet barre and center work, with releasing floor work. “The company has always been energetic, but now the dancers are stronger!” says, Chace.

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Tamra Chace teaches her unique style and technique in open classes whenever she gets a chance. Chace can be demanding in her energetic tone in classes, teaching technical discipline, and artistic expression in all the dancers do.

CDC has a few open classes coming up in the next few weeks. Be sure to check the Facebook page routinely for information. And for those interested in scoping the group out in their next performance, simply go to www.shopchacedanceco.com to purchase tickets for Saturday nights show, “Humanity” at the Atterbury Theatre.