How to Sparkle Through Your Posture

Sep 16, 2021

I’ve taught ballet (and jazz, etc.) for 23 years and if there’s one thing that immediately informs me as to a dancer’s commitment to my class it is…their posture. I can tell if a dancer is tired, excited, hungry, jumpy, apathetic, nervous, happy, uninspired, or invested all by how they stand at the beginning of my class.

Here are a few things to help your sparkle through your posture as you step into the studio:

  • Think of your posture as your “business card.”
    • People hand out those little squares of paper over a handshake to let someone know who they are and what they do. I look at dancers’ posture the same way. It tells me so much about who they are and how they have shown up to take my class. You would not hand over a soggy or crumpled business card to someone you were hoping to offer a good first impression on. So don’t give your teacher or choreographer the impression that you are unexcited to take their class by how you carry yourself. Put on a layer of “on purpose” to your posture and watch the impact you make on the room.
  • It’s in the eyes.
    • They eyes are such a give-away! Are they drooping or looking down or 1/3 closed? If so, you are giving off that you are tired, uninterested or less-than-thrilled to be in class. Take a deep breath, elongate your spine and open those beautiful expressive eyes wide up! And, Dancer, if they are droopy, consider why! Are you tired? Are you nervous? You may need to treat the underlying condition (get more rest, talk with a trusted friend) rather than just a band-aid fix.
  • Connect an imaginary fishing line to the top of your head and gently pull up.
    • Over the years I have found this imagery very helpful! We want to elongate our entire skeletal structure, not just “pull in our navel” or “flatten our low back” (I dislike both of those verbal cues, by the way). We want to give the impression that we are our longest selves - even if we are 5’1'“ like yours truly. So imagine a clear string of fishing line attached at the center or your head (right in the center of where your tiara would be), gently lifting upward. I can see the sparkles emanating from you already!
  • Shoulders should be stretched and engaged prior to class.
    • Shoulders rolling forward (hello, posture of everyone who owns a smart phone!) are the visual calling card for not caring. It gives the dancer an appearance of apathy. No dancer wants to give off that vibe! So, in order to counter act the way we sit when we read, are on the computer, check our phones, etc., is to stretch and engage our shoulders prior to class. Stretch your pectoral muscles by bringing your thumbs together at your low back, interlacing your fingers and (gently) stretching your arms and lifting your sternum. Then, engage your shoulders by laying on your stomach, placing your arms in a “V” with your thumbs pointed at the ceiling. Then squeeze together the space in between your shoulder blades and lift your thumbs straight up to the sky, holding 5 seconds and then relaxing back down to the ground. Repeat a few times until you feel the slight burn of the backs of your shoulders as they engage.

There you go, Dancers! A few tips to make sparkle through your posture. Give these tips a try and let me know how it impacts your class! Leave your comments below.



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