We are just beginning to tap into the potential of our greatest instrument, our bodies.
As the art and physicality of Dance grows, the genre has become increasingly more rigorous and physically demanding. For many high caliber dance team and studio programs, strength and conditioning is already an integral part of their training. No longer is it enough to rehearse, train in technique courses and learn choreography. Dancers and coaches are finding that endurance and strength are a necessary element of their training and that a dancers potential can be significantly enhanced with weight lifting, cardio and circuit training.
To find out more about the importance of strength training for dancers, we spoke with Wanda Brown Weir, who is the owner, director and coach at Premier Dance in Washington, DC. http://www.premierdancedc.com/
Wanda is the former 3-year Director/Choreographer of the NBA Washington Wizards Dance Team. She is the former captain/choreographer of the fourteen-time national champion Towson University Dance Team and former coach of the George Washington University “First Ladies” Dance Team. She is currently a professional dance adjudicator and trains hands on with teams, coaching dancers to be their very best, both physically and mentally. Premier Dance is her offering of customized coaching and mentoring for those programs looking to kick it up a notch.
Wanda, what is the most important element of a strength and conditioning program?
YOU! Your own body weight is the best tool that you have. There are an endless number of exercises and drills that you can do such as squats, burpies, push-ups, planks that when done correctly and consistently can be tremendously effective in building strength, stamina and increasing endurance.
It’s important to designate a portion of your practice time to strength and conditioning because results are truly only gained over time. Starting your practice with a mile run, or sprint drills can serve as a warm-up for every practice and strength circuits/drills can be used to build muscle and improve upper and lower body strength. Each team that I consult with also brings a set of 5 pounds weights and resistance bands to every practice.
What is advice you give when you first begin your program with a team?
The first thing I tell all of my teams is that our work together is not supposed to be easy and instant gratification has no place in our training. Your mindset will be just as important as your physical ability. What you think you can do is just as important as what you know you can do. The work wont get easier its YOU that will get stronger. Oh and you will sweat, that’s your indicator of a job well done.
Finally, what is the most fun part about working out with a dance specific fitness coach?
A dance specific dance coach has the technical and performance background that you are seeking to develop so they are able to use dance technique as a part of your training regiment. A conditioning drill consisting of 2 burpies, followed by two touch touches ending with a plank hold of 30 secs is a more effective and FUN way to train as a dancer- trust me;)
Using a dance specific fitness coach also helps you to manage your practices more effectively. They can consult with your coach and incorporate skills that you are trying to perfect into your workout drills.
Do you and your team or ensemble incorporate strength training into your practice and rehearsal time? Share with us in the comments!