If you are asking ‘how do I jump higher in my dancing,’ then I have some tips for you taken from male ballet dancers that just seem to soar through the air so effortlessly.
The aim when you do grande allegro in ballet is to look as if you are flying for an instant. It’s an illusion, but it does take lots of practice as well as strong leg and core muscles.
When doing a grand jete for example as the girl above is demonstrating, you need to actually open your legs out in the air again once you are mid-flight in order to stay in the air a little longer and to give the illusion of flying.
So How Do I Jump Higher?
For all the grand allegro in ballet the plie is very important, but if you want to get high off the ground you really need to get down as much as you can before you take off.
If you ask a non-ballet person to jump as high as they can, they will bend in their legs and let their hips go back before taking off into the air.
In ballet, we are trained not to let the hips sink back, but unfortunately that is the only way that you are going to get any significant height into your jump.
You can sink into the hips, but then at the very bottom of that sink, you must immediately throw your whole body, which includes your hips, legs, torso, head, toes and fingertips into the air. The magic must happen in the immediacy and the quickness of the push, and you must try to get to the top of your jump as quickly as possible.
It helps to focus all your energy into the muscles that are pushing you into the jump, so you really need to concentrate with focused energy on the whole leg that is pushing you into the air.
This must show a lot of attack and must be aggressive in its approach.
When you first try this way of jumping, you won’t be able to control your landings. If you can then you are obviously not pushing off the floor hard enough or strong enough.
The next trick is this. Once you are up in the air, don’t come down. Try to live up there for a little while, as this is where the magic happens.
We can make the audience think we are defying gravity by holding the jumping position in the air a bit longer than we think we can.
Don’t jump and then think about landing straight away. You have more time in the air than you think you do, and the floor is not as close as it seems. You need to challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort level and you will be amazed at what you can achieve up there.
Another neat trick that a dancer can use in her quest on ‘how can I jump higher,’ is to lower the eye line and head slightly before take-off and then lift them both sharply on the push off of the floor. If you can get this coordination working, then the look of the jump will appear higher.
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More Tips For How Do I Jump Higher:
- Use your feet fully. Leave the floor heel, ball, toe and land toe, ball, heel.
- Experiment with breathing. Sometimes it helps to breathe out as you alight and in as you come down. Try it both ways and see what works for you.
- Make your jump work with the music you are dancing to by listening to the timing and the tempo.
- Imagine a harness lifting you and supporting you from your pelvic floor as you take off.
- Relax your shoulders, arms and neck as many dancers seem to tense this area up as they take off.
- Core muscles must be strong and activated throughout your jump.
Tips For Teachers:
- Never underestimate the importance of taking them back to the bar. Here they can do a series of quick jumps and releves. Make sure they keep their weight on the balls of their feet and their knees over their toes as they come down. Repetition with good alignment helps develop the muscles correctly.
- Do many slow releves and quick releves at the bar to strengthen the feet and legs.
- Simple things like chasses into jumps, and skips help prepare your students for more complex leaps later on.
- Let them do petit allegro with their hands behind their heads and they will get a better feel where the power is coming from that allows them to get off the ground.
- Use imagery in your teaching, like ‘hover like and eagle,’ or ‘take flight,’
- Let them do vertical jumps a lot in order to improve the height of their traveling jumps.
In finishing, I know this is not what you want to hear, but there are no secrets to jumping. It is just a matter of hard work and a combination of proper alignment and solid technique.
The only other secret to how do I jump higher is practice, practice, and practice some more!