Movement Training Series #1: Stretching

| October 3, 2011 | 1 Comment

Oh my goodness ~ Hello, chickadees! It has been ages since I have been here to pester you regale you with movement meanderings.  But, never fear, darlings, the Movement Chick has a SCHEDULE…

…an editing/writing/proofing/submit the blessed article already, pleaseandthankyou SCHEDULE!

Whee!   [I also have the world’s most fabulous editor, EV-AH]

A-hem. So…

You shall have the opportunity to garner my pearls of wisdom movement drivel once a month.

[I know!]

Here is the scoop, my darlings.  This season, I shall take on a series of ramblings articles detailing the building blocks of everyone’s my personal favorite part of practice ~ the MOVEMENT BLOCK.

First order of business?

Stretching.

Much as your students may wish to run around the gym, flirt with the wresting team; stare accusingly at the [insert team name here] who won’t clear the darn gym so the guard Can. Pull. The. Floor. Already.  They are in need of a stretch sequence.  Trust me, I know time is money limited; but please, I am begging you, do not skip this step.

Alrighty then, Movement Chick…What all do we have to stretch?

Everything. All of it. The Whole Enchilada. Go Big or Go Home.. You get the Idea.

In this here activity we call home, all muscular groups are used, and as such, all need to be warmed up before we jump into [ha! get it?  **crickets**….okay, fine] more strenuous work; spinning, etc.

[Disclaimer alert:  This is MY OPINION, and what has worked for me in the past; by no means am I telling you the exact means to run your rehearsal. That is all you]

Let’s begin.

Here’s a funny thing.  To do an effective stretch, one actually has to warm up first.  Yes, I know. Stop looking at me that way.  Have your performers bounce in place, working out those after school or early morning kinks and get the blood flowing.  Herein lies one of the hallmarks of stretching ~ blood flow, baby.  {I have been known to break out the Cupid Shuffle. Don’t judge.}

[sidebar ~ It is a wise idea to have your students in “windows” in order to be able to ”read through” the block.  This becomes even more helpful as we move on past the stretch into other portions of the warm-up. Also, remember to rotate your lines~ yes, your strong performers/seniors/drama and theatre majors will covet that first row, but one needs to be able to correct, etc. and rotating the lines allows all performers to be seen from different angles]

My fave method of stretching is starting from the head/neck and working my way down.  Not your thing? Start on the ground, that’s fine too.  Please be certain you are addressing not only the major muscle groups, but also, the wrist; the fingers [I know!] the ankles, the ball of the foot.

I am not here to tell you each and every stretch to do ~ in fact; I encourage you to change it up a bit. Our muscles get used to the same routine and aren’t challenged as greatly if there is no variety.  There is no shortage of resources for stretching, and the tried and true methods [lunge, cat/cow] and tried and true for exactly that reason! Look around, explore your options.  The google is our friend.

What I am here to advise is this:

  • Hold each stretch  for at least an 8 count, and 24 if you can stand it have time

  • Ease into it, breath in and as you breathe out, stretch Juuuuuust a little deeper.  Trust me.

  • Rapidly dropping into a stretch runs all KINDS of risks… go slow

  • If you are looking for splits out of your performers, begin with lunges and butterflies, and gradually extend their ability to get into the ground. It will come, pinky swear!

  • Make it fun! Have music, make up names for your crazy stretch moves to make them your own

And, here is the most important piece.  Have them stretch at the END of a rehearsal too. I know, the floor needs to be folded, the candy bar fundraiser has to be passed out and the moms are gathering by the door with pitchforks tapping their watches.  Warm, pliable muscles are at the optimum time to get a bit more flexibility out of them, [and reduce the soreness of the next day, primarily at the beginning of the season.]

On a related note ~ when running a long day, be it a camp, a clinic or a full on drill fest, when the students are not actively working, I have them stretch at random points during the day.  Slow and steady wins the race here, boys and girls.  And, much as Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor were the fluid arabesque and battements you are developing.

I know. It’s not ground breaking information. But, on that one rehearsal day when you look at your clock, your calendar, and your show schedule and thing, “Hmmm… do we really HAVE to stretch tonight?” My answer is an unwavering “YES!”

Did you all miss me?

Hugs, TMC

Note: This post was edited to change the title from “The Movement Chick: Stretching” to “Movement Training Series #1: Stretching” so that it would reflect a similar title to the future articles in the series for easy searching in the archives.

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Category: Instruction, Movement

About the Author (Author Profile)

Cheryl Myers (aka “The (self-proclaimed) Movement Chick”) is a movement instructor, adjudicator and would-be rockette, living in the Fingerlakes area of New York State. Primary affiliations include the New York Federation of Contest Judges, and the Atlantic Indoor Association. She has most recently worked with Trumansburg High School, and is continually blessed by the opportunity to consult and adjudicate for circuits around the country. In addition to her pageantry career, Ms. Myers works in the accounting and insurance fields, and yes, is great fun at parties, thankyouverymuch. Her primary job, and that which she is most proud of, is raising her two beautiful children, a future dancer and drummer.

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