How to Jump Higher!
Often dancers don’t like jumps~ they can be exhausting, difficult to memorize, take years to develop and still you are not jumping any higher. This is the second post on how to increase your jump. Find the first one here!
“Push-off” from the floor is directly related to plié. We must think of plié as a verb, not a noun. A static plié or one that has reached the bottom of its limit too soon will not be helpful for jumping. Most teachers give a jump combination occasionally to illustrate this point: First position– 8 jumps with no plié! You can only use your feet and the lift of your body to get off the floor. You will not go high at all.
Kenneth Laws in Physics, Dance, and the Pas de Deux writes about the importance of timing your plié with the jump: “Studies have shown, however, that too deep a plié decreases the average force that can be exerted, and there is actually some sacrifice in the height of the resulting jump. Of course, what is too deep depends on an individual dancer’s strength.” So while usually, teachers ask for your deepest plié in most applications, due to the timing of the music and your individual plié depth, it will vary.
Learn where your optimal plié depth is for each type of jump!
Try to jump
It is up to you to try. No one can light a fire underneath you to make you jump higher. It is amazing when I say “Let’s do it again and TRY harder!” And they do.
Every successful dancer who has a good jump tries to jump higher. Some dancers have natural ballon but most students have to work for it. However, like most assets, those who do have a natural jump want to show it off. Thus they are often the ones that are working hard.
Words like “soar”, “fly” “lightly” are examples of great words to inspire the elongated or small sprightly jump. Take note of what descriptive words your teachers use and think of them before you take off on your jump. Think of them as you jump.
Work your feet at the barre
Use barre time to build the strength in your feet and plié. Fondus are key to jumping. They create the push, stretch, and strength to accomplishing a coordinated jump!
Yes, that again. My mantra is to do conditioning outside of your studio training. Strengthen your feet, your core, your legs and keep your muscles supple.
Let your arms help you~ free your arms from tension
It can be helpful to experiment with movement combinations of the arm with your jumps. For example, have you ever put a hula hoop on each arm and moved your arms in small inward and outward circles? It is an excellent workout but moreover, it teaches you about circular motion.
The circular motion of your arms in seconde, third middle, fifth low and first port de bras can lift you up in your sauté. It does this because it is natural to involve all of your body in movement.
Don’t believe me? Take a peek at kids at a playground. They run, jump and leap using their arms to create elevation. In the ballet studio, it is common when you ask a class to jump higher that dancers mark a combination with the arms moving upwards in non-balletic positions.
Use your entire body
We must use our core, aka power center in all that you do in classical ballet. Nowhere is this more crucial than jumping. If you look at yourself sideways in the mirror in a simple warm-up jump you may notice that your pelvis releases backward. This means that you are not using your core to maintain neutral pelvis. Every time you release it, you must realign it which takes extra effort!
If you want to jump higher, engage your core so your body moves in one aligned unit.
“Use” your plié
The plié coupled with the push-off of strong centered feet will create a powerful beginning to any jump. Limit your plié, roll your feet in or lift your heels will make a wimpy jump. As I say often “plié is gold”.
One other very basic note about plié: be sure to be ready and plié on the introductory count whether it be the usual “8” or “and” count. It makes a big difference!
Want to learn more about jumps– check out my earlier post and watch my video below! Just for you 🙂 I invite you to comment below with any questions, thoughts or ideas~ Sarah