I have spent a significant time searching through on line video-clips of dance warm ups.

I attempted to classify dance warm ups into style to determine if content reflected either Jazz, Contemporary or Ballet genre. In general:

  1. Jazz warm ups seem the most cardiovascular and learners also stretched most (and statically). I felt the nervous system was wakened by the concentration needed for coordination and isolations.
  2. Contemporary warm ups had greater use of pathway and more focus on contraction and release. Contemporary warm ups include use of both pathway of body parts and pathway within the room. There was changing use of intent due to Laban’s movement actions.
  3. Ballet warm ups focussed and set alignment but were the least cardiovascular. Ballet warm ups were unusual as they worked through set exercises and focused on strength and alignment. Ballet dancers focussed on range of movement within a set framework. They had less static stretches that expected.

It is clear from even this small selection of warm ups that the content of the warm up differs depending on the teacher, genre and purpose. Lower ability class could use similar movements to more advanced dancer if the movement patterns were less complex.

The teaching style of the warm up was an interesting factor in the level of success. Classes where command and practice teaching styles were used were least successful particularly when the content was delivered slowly. In comparison, repetition of movements was more effective in enabling students to achieve the range and quality of movement. Student responded well where predicable movements were interlaced with more unusual or more challenging movement. Teachers who led from the front lost the focus of students in the middle and at the back.

Teacher guided warm ups were enjoyed more by students. These were the most difficult to find during the web search. The only examples were in children’s classes or in improvisation classes. It seemed the more advanced the class the greater the level of tutor led input. In tutor guided classes, students were obviously more engaged and involved in the completion of movements. This also provided the teacher with more time to correct individuals.

The two teacher-guided warm ups shown in the clips proved that imagery (hamster) and reciprocal working were effective methods for increasing challenge, enthusing and focussing students on quality of movement. These examples were unique in their demonstration of engaging larger student numbers. It was clear that students were energised by the imagery and contact with their peers. The teachers were less involved in the lesson and more involved in teaching. This active involvement of students was also improved where significant correction was given.

There was no evidence (even after 6 hours of searching) of warm ups designed specifically for boys. I used the fitness warm up as a contrast in style focusing on arm strength and core which are less suited to the muscle structure of females.


MALE FITNESS: Fitness warm up

Movements are extended and move through the major joints. The exercises are more repetitive than in dance warm ups but are more cardiovascular. The repetition allows time for participants to extend the movement. There is more dynamic stretching and no static stretching compare to dance warm up.

Dance warm up: Not Teacher led  and Partner led

Students movements are less restricted. All students have the essence of the movement. Teachers have more time to correct movement and to direct progress. Movements although in young participants are similar to those in the more advanced classes. The participants seem to have more energy and are all active and engaged.

JAZZ Warm up: Intermediate: Progressive warm up

The teacher has drilled the movements well but it is only now that she can correct students. It is clear the class understand the movement. Exercises begin on the floor and progress to standing. There is a combination of static and dynamic stretches. Participants and active and engaged but seemed very focussed on the movements.

Jazz warm up led by male teacher: Dynamic stretches only

All stretches in this warm up were dynamic. There was no cardio or static stretches. There was focus on range of movement and movement quality. No corrections were given.

JAZZ Warm up: Beginner Jazz

In contrast to the class guided by the teacher the participants movements are more restricted. The dancers are less engaged and less aware of their movement quality as they have to watch the teacher. The movements are slow so that participants can copy. Most disengage as the content has not held their interest. Movement content in this example is poor.

CONTEMPORARY: Intermediate contemporary

Movement patterns are complex due to the nature of the Advanced Level class. The warm up progresses through relaxation of muscles, engage muscles, dynamic stretches, pattern and reach, static stretches, release, coordination prove build up of dynamic and cardiovascular movements proceeding through jumps, kicks, leaps and rolls. With the students trust and engagement it is possible to attempt leaps and flips that would not otherwise have been possible.

CONTEMPORARY Warm up: Beginner Contemporary

Movements are shown without the class present. The use of Laban’s movement actions warms the muscles. It is clear how the movement intent could be improved by use of actions. Dynamic movements and stretches are used. Although sections have a cardiovascular element they are not high impact.

Ballet warm up: Ballet barre

Students complete strengthening exercises at the barre. Most movements are dynamic stretches or holds for strength building. There is an emphasis on alignment. The warm up requires alignment in the body but the balance to achieve this is not present as the barre is used for support. The teacher passes round the class as the students can follow the student in front. There is little static stretching. Students work through basic exercises from working the toes, ankles, knees and hips in preparation for work in centre. Students are working with extreme flexibility without focus on static stretch protocols characteristic in ballet warm ups.

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