Jumps are a step that you love or dread! Like most ballet steps, people like the ones that they can do more easily. Makes sense, right? If it comes naturally to you, you enjoy it more and you probably get lots of compliments. 🙂
Dancers can improve their jumps by all sorts of methods. Some methods are traditional and some are not.
Let’s list out some of the necessary tools for the average jumper so you may pick up a helpful tip!
- use your plié fully– do not hit rock bottom and sit
- push off and land through strong feet and toes
- engaged core
- strong glutes
- legs with strength and quick response
Thoughtful considerations for jumps
- coordination and timing
- concept: to go up, I must first go down
- extend your spine at the peak of the jump
- one plié or end of a jump is the beginning of another
- using the accent of the music
- jump is a circular motion of rebound and bounce
Some people are natural jumpers. I don’t know how or why exactly, but there are “jumpers” in every class that I teach. However, the percentage is low. I would like to think that they enjoy the movement and strive to jump higher. I notice that their feet are always fully pointed as well.
They have an easy “ballon”. Ballon is the French word for “balloon” What image does a balloon conjure in your mind?
Quote source: Wikipedia
I have heard that dancers with bow legged tibias have an easier jump.
Do gifted jumpers have large quads or glutes? Not always. It is true that Nijinsky had large thigh muscles and jumped like a gazelle. I have seen Natalia Osipova spring up from the floor on one foot with little preparation. She does not have large legs at all!
Short dancers jump higher. Proportions? It takes 33% more muscle mass for a tall dancer to jump as high as a shorter compact dancer.
Mental attitude and imagery
As you know, I am a big proponent of ballet conditioning because we need to gain strength that is not always acquired in ballet class. This is because a ballet teacher cannot possibly address every one of his/her student’s limitations in the class. However, if I assign an exercise that can be done on their own and they do it, the improvement is eminent.
Mental attitude is paramount to improvement. You must think “I can do this.” “I will try.” “I will be consistent.” “I will keep a positive attitude.”Think 'I can fly!' when you jump and you will soar!Click To Tweet
What if you thought “I can fly!” “I will soar!” Do you think truly that you would jump differently?
I believe you will. The mind is powerful.
In this video my student demonstrates the effect of dancing naturally with her arms to help her jump higher. Maybe this is what “natural” jumpers are doing intuitively! Use your arms naturally. Let them help you just like they do on their own as shown here in the video. Tell me if you see any improvement 🙂
For the past 30+ years I have said the same thing about jumps from the get-go. Jumping is bounce– rebound– elasticity–no strain– no tension– strength–breath–endurance.
Cardio training for jumps
If you want to be a better jumper, do something aerobic for cross training. If you can only jump well for 16-32 counts, then start skipping rope or riding a bike. Jumping is the anaerobic portion of a ballet class. It is a perfect example of something you may not get better at just by doing more. Usually dancers get injured in allegro because the endurance runs out. When you run out of steam, accidents can happen. Thus I don’t advise this as a solution to build endurance.If you want to increase endurance in a ballet class, my advice is to go with another group in center. (Ie; after your group or line has done the allegro combination~ go with the next group too.)
Listen to your body. If your legs feel like jello, be careful. Feet can turn to jello and you could roll out or in on an ankle. Ouch! Once overstretched, ligaments do not stretch back and you have now created a liability.
Your jumps will be more powerful if you start cardio training. With good cardio conditioning, you will put more energy into the strength aspect of the jump combinations.
Please comment below about what you think contributes to jumping well.
Look for my new instructional videos in the soon-to-be-released “Ballet Video Course” page.