Learning to leap; Tips and Technique
By Ariel
On 07/15/2006 08:09:22
Hi,Im posting this because we all know that a random question is "How do you do a leap?" Or this "Help with leaps".Well here is an easy way to learn how or improve.

[b]Learning to Leap[/b]
Tips & Technique
by Jenny Sweet

Proper technique and execution of a leap is crucial for the dancer both physically and aesthetically. Knowing the correct measures when springing off the ground is the first step to improving your height, body alignment, and consistency.

The first point in leaping is to think height and not distance. Height is achieved by a plie, or bend in the knees, which allows the dancer to take a down action before the leap. In order for the dancer’s legs to reach a full split in the air, the body must be traveling directly up, rather than out. When a dancer travels forward in the air, momentum pushes against the legs, making it harder to obtain the split.

In the air, the toes must be pointed. Aesthetically, pointed toes continue the line from the dancer’s hips. The toes should point immediately after the preparation. The foot brushes through a first position, leading with the heel. After this position is performed, the foot immediately points as the dancer leaves the ground.

The location of a body’s center is about one inch above and one inch below the belly button. Engaging the muscles in the stomach helps the dancer maintain control over the leap in the air. The shoulders stay in-line with the hips, allowing the body to move as one unit. The dancer is able to hit the position in the air, having power over all body parts. A strong center is the foundation needed to perform the more advanced level leaps.

Strong arms, having energy extended past the shoulders, is an important component of body alignment. Arms are held from the back muscles called latissimus dorsi. A common error is thinking the shoulders hold the arms. This mistake causes the shoulders to lift and to tense, making the leap looked labored.

Landing a leap incorporates the bend of the legs/knees to compensate for its impact. A dancer must also roll through their feet during the landing, starting with the toes, followed by the ball of the foot, and finally the heel. Both measures are taken to protect a dancer’s knees and ankles against the force of their leap. Focusing on the knees and feet allows the body to automatically absorb the landing, preventing injury


Types of leaps:

1. [b]Grand Jete[/b]—Large throwing step. A jump from one foot to the other in which the working leg is brushed into the air and appears to be thrown. In a grand jete, the legs are thrown to 90 degrees with a corresponding high jump.

2. [b]Side/Straddle Leap[/b]—Large leap with legs in second position. A jump from one foot to the other in which the working leg is developed (bringing leg through passé) into the air to a second/side position. The leg is thrown to a position of 90 degrees or higher and is immediately followed by the other leg, which is brushed to a second position, meeting the height of the first leg. Landing consists of the working leg landing on the ground first, and the second leg breaking through passé to land behind it.

3. [b]Switch Leap[/b]—Large leap switching legs in the air. A jump where the dancer brushes the first leg 45 degrees forward off the ground, then back, lifting into a grand jete or split leap.

[hl=yellow]Tips for improving leaps[/hl]:

1. Flexibility is an important component in the execution leaps. The elasticity of a dancer’s muscles allows the legs to extend fully, especially when a wide range of motion is available. Flexibility is maximized by maintaining a stretch position for at least 15 seconds, and ideally for 30 seconds or longer. Make sure to stretch thoroughly before any attempt at a leap.

2. Before leaping, dancers must use a plie, or bend in the legs, to propel their bodies into the air. A plie permits the energy to shoot straight up off the ground, making the dancer air-born.

3. Always keep in mind that the energy comes from the leap itself rather than the preparation. In order to explode in the air, the preparation taken before the leap must be a conservation of energy. Imagine that your body is a metal spring. Before the spring can extend its coils and jump into the air, all the spirals must be compressed and contracted together. This same analogy applies to a leap where the dancer must build up momentum, rather than using it, before leaping.

4. Give the illusion that you are higher by lifting your head/chin and arms during your leap. This is a simple tip, yet is often taken for granted. During your leap, the simple focus change from a level position to a raised position gives the audience the impression that you are higher in the air.

Hopefully this helped[happy]

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