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Grand Jeté, the stunning ballet movement when the ballerina leaps into the air and performs a split- is the true definition of perfectionism. Jeté - also known as split jump, is a showstopper if executed correctly.
Be it ballet, freestyle, contemporary, hip-hop or jazz, any jump involves a lot of hard work, hours of practice, and, in many cases, a lot of strained, sprained and bruised muscles. What exactly makes your leap as a dancer an exalting one? The impressive move is only doable if the dancers prepare well, take precautions, and practice endlessly.
Like any rigorous physical activity, start with warm-ups and stretches. To improve your flexibility, check some tips here. Stretch every day to make sure your leg muscles are ready for the intensive work to follow. The second stage of your stretching action is stretching for a split. What you would do mid-air one day, try and work on it while you are on the ground. Performing split every day until both your legs are flat on the floor and you are entirely comfortable with it is crucial. Go slow to avoid pulled muscles. To start, placing a pillow beneath your foot and switching your feet is a great way to push your flexibility further.
A dancer’s wellness begins with strength training. Repetitive movements and working on your core enables dancers to build up their strength gradually. Dancers need to work on their glutes and legs as they do most of the hard work. But arms are necessary too for a balanced strength workout. Since leaps involve a lot of jumping even during practicing, a great exercise is to jog for around 15 paces, and then turn each stride into a jump. Commonly referred to as bounding, this is an amazingly simple and effective way to practice leaps.
Which is your dominant side? Are you working on a specific choreography or you can pick any leg? Focus on whether you will do a right or a left leg split jump. If you are doing a right split jump, your right leg is your supporting leg, and you need to keep your right foot flat on the floor with toe pointed outward. The left leg is extended straight in front, and pointed toe touches the floor. Your weight is shifted onto your left leg, like a plié, and as you move your right foot along the floor to the front point your right tow as you bring your fully extended leg upward. Using your left leg, push yourself off the floor. While you are in the air, let your legs stretch fully in either direction. You have achieved your hard-earned split in mid-air!
Don’t forget to land well by keeping our knees slightly bent to absorb the shock. Your arms, back leg remains extended outward, as they were in the jump. Yay! You can come back to your original position. Most of you dancers must have heard your teachers screaming “Toe, Ball, Heel." And this should be your mantra while landing to avoid pressure on delicate leg joints. Faulty landings are often the cause of most dance-related injuries.
It takes anything from a few weeks to over a year to perfect your grand Jeté. If you are a gymnast, you need to take a step or two before getting into a leap, however, like a ballerina; you can start with a small skip, then plié and finally leap.
Remember, your core, strength in your leg muscles and your overall posture, all this is fundamental and need to be worked on before you get a perfect leap.
Jumping and leaping up in the air like popcorn is every ballerina's dream. Developing a memorable big leap is more about nurture than nature. No aspect of a leap be it plié, or alignment of your toes should be taken for granted. Preparation is everything. Going back to basics, and making pliés, and active movement in your dance rehearsals will help in improving your leaps. With the correct position of your arms, you can give your audience an impression that of being in the air for an extra few seconds. If you want a clean jump, learn to relax your arms and shoulders.
Like all good things, when it comes to achieving excellent leap mid-air, you must first achieve it on the ground! There is no better time to work on improving your leaps like grand Jeté and sauté de chat; don't wait, and launch yourself to the flight of your dancing fantasy!