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Universal Warmup for Any Dance Genre




Dance Teachers

Elements of a good warmup should include bringing your heartrate up, improving and reinforcing technique, increasing strength and stamina, and improving range of motion and flexibility. These goals may be accomplished with such traditional elements as a plie series, ab series. I find that upper body strength is sometimes neglected in a warmup. It is needed for floor work and the aesthetic look of a dancer.

While the cardio portion of a warmup is designed to bring heartrate up and has movements in common with an aerobics class, it should all look like dance; passing through dance lines quickly can satisfy this aerobic element and reinforce technique. A good benchmark for knowing if you’ve gotten your heartrate up is if you’ve broken a sweat.

Regardless of the style you’re prepping for, it is important to work both parallel and turned out (not forced) to properly strengthen the supporting muscle groups for all positions that may be used in choreography.

Even a simple thing like a plie series should include enough reps to increase strength. Reps are very important in a well designed ab series. While traditional crunches are beneficial, I have a series that I call the “dancey abs” that quickly moves from a prone position to dance lines. This also accomplishes a synergy between ab strength and hip strength necessary for advanced movement.

In addressing upper body strength, a warmup could include traditional free-hand exercises such as front push-ups, side push-ups, and push ups in rear support; however, as it pertains to dance, we want to utilize strength in extended positions and emphasize control. An example would be in my warmup when doing front support push-ups, I also use recessives. I use push-ups in various hand positions and on the last push-up in each hand position, I use a slow descent back to the floor. Positions where weight is supported with extended arms should enhance upper body strength and help to lengthen dance lines.

While a good warmup will have slow, controlled stretches in extended positions, I find that many warmups only emphasize stretching legs. A complete stretch should include the whole body: hips, abs, back, shoulders, and neck, etc. Many of the stretches at the barre contained in a traditional ballet class are excellent as well as floor-stretches. Stretching shoulders and upper body at the barre makes for a more complete stretch series.

Before beginning warmup, it is wise to review my first article about being prepared to take class, so that the mind is ready to maximize the warmup!


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Tony Coppola

Tony Coppola

With long-standing national recognition as a tap dance virtuoso, All-American gymnast, master dance teacher, and professional percussionist, Tony Coppola is in high demand as a performer, choreographer and master instructor. His television choreographic credits include commercials for McDonalds, Aramis cologne, and Autolite autoparts, as well as the Superstars of Gymnastics for USA TV network, and John Tesh Live at Redrocks for PBS. He choreographed the World Gold Gymnastics tour starring Nadia Comaneci and a cast of Olympic medalists and Hollywood dancers. *Tony was honored to have a Capezio tap dance shoe named after him. He has taught outreach classes for the Kennedy Center’s Imagination Celebration. Tony’s music theatre credits include the lead role in GEORGE M and choreographer role in productions of WEST SIDE STORY, CHICAGO, TOMMY, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, KISS ME KATE and many others. While on faculty at UNLV for five years, he became the published author of INVITATION TO THE DANCE, found on amazon. Tony began his performing career as a dancer for Donny and Marie, and toured the world with the Osmonds for several years. He continued his performing career as a tap soloist for many stage shows, tv shows, and film. He was the master tap teacher for Tremaine conventions for twelve years. Tony has written for many dance publications and is presently a contributing writer for Dance Informa magazine. He is on faculty of the Dance Teacher Web National Conference, and judges throughout the United States. Presently Tony directs and choreographs the Las Vegas based Coppola Rhythm Ensemble and their show “Kickin’ It!” He is the tap instructor for Don Mirault’s Theater Arts Preparatory School at The Rock Center for Dance in Las Vegas, where he is on faculty. Tony is proud to be a mentor for “Get Launched” sponsored by Positively Arts Program. *Tony’s endeavors in the outreach arena have led him to a project for children, which combine fitness, dance, and music called “The Rhythkiddz”. Tony espouses a philosophy of versatility and relevance for himself and his dancers.

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