Warm Up and Cool Down
Warming up and cooling down are vital in your quest to remain uninjured. Warm up exercises consist of small, localized movements which prepare the body for larger, more taxing movements (Loren, 115-16). Warm-ups decrease tension in the muscles so that one can move without the risk of stress and strain. In ballet, the warm up is generally done standing at the barre, while the warm up in modern is generally done sitting and standing up in the center of the room.
Cooling down after exercising is important to prevent muscle soreness.
Every person has different needs, and some people may feel more tension in their muscles than others. These exercises should be non-strenuous; the exercises are designed to loosen your muscles. The following stretches are good warm-ups and cool-downs before and after dance class.
Neck: Turn head side to side, up and down, tilt side to side; roll head in circles to right and left (Hammond, 60).
Shoulders: Lift shoulders to ears, let drop; roll shoulders forward and back (Hammond, 60).
Lower back: Sit with soles of feet together, knees to sides; gently lower head over feet while letting breath out; hold for several seconds (Loren, 117).
Hip joint: Sit with soles of feet together, knees to sides; gently bounce knees up and down (Loren, 117); while standing, lift knee several times to front; swing leg to front and back (Hammond, 60).
Hamstring (back of thigh): Sit with legs straight in front of you, lower head over knees while breathing out, hold for several seconds; lie on the floor face-up, bring one knee to chest, straighten leg to ceiling, pull to chest, hold for several seconds (Loren, 117).