Elevation - How to improve your jump
I have always felt that one should start working on one's elevation by working on one's feet during the barre and in the centre in class. Once you have strong well aligned powerful feet your jump will start to improve exponentially. Remember that every tendu, relevé and glisseé exercise at the barre is crucial for getting those feet working strongly through the floor. Concentrate on correct placement of the foot using the heel and then the ball of the foot and toes strongly and this naturally leads to a good jump. Then when jumping in the centre try pushing first with the heels then widening and lengthening through the feet and toes so that the whole foot is used powerfully to gain height. One of the worst things to go wrong in a jump is to roll or sickle the feet before taking off. Good strong pull up and properly aligned feet are paramount to a great jump height. Try reading Eric Franklin's book Dance Imagery for Technique, he advises that when you jump you imagine your feet extending and pushing through the sand beneath your toes as you jump into the air. ( At the Dance Centre Peregian Springs we always encourage you to push your toes through the floor so that the Benchmark customers see them sticking through the ceiling!) Resistance training with Thera bands should be regularly done in conditioning/stretching sessions and
play a vital role in strengthening and maintaining foot strength ready for a wonderful jump.
Your jump will need a good plié with the heels firmly on the floor as mentioned before. A plié that is too deep can often hinder a good jump, so aim for a bounce-like quality and do keep your heels on the ground and your knees over your toes. Maintaining turn out is very important. Try sitting on the floor in first position in a demi plié with your feet firmly against the wall and thrusting firmly backwards (as if you were jumping) with your feet...heels, ball, toes, extending your legs and pointing strongly as if in a jump. Keep your core activated or you will fall over! This demonstrates the use of the feet in take off and in a jump. Proper alignment with strong use of core is vital to achieve good elevation so keeping your body perfectly placed while jumping is crucial. The body axis needs to be firm and well held, and the head, torso, pelvis/hips and knees must all be properly placed over the feet so that nothing detracts from the strong thrust upwards. Yet again GOOD core work is going to be very important if you wish to gain height. Try not to tense up in the torso or arms as this will detract from the upward thrust. The legs are also involved in a jump and should be fully and strongly extended during the jump to achieve that wonderful upwards elevation. The legs must arrive at the floor extended and plié on landing with heels on the ground to provide cushioning for the body and prevent back injuries and knees over toes. I have always felt that the moment of greatest "pull up" is the landing. Alignment and a strong core must remain in place with a feeling of reaching through the top of the head (throughout the jump ) especially when landing. AND, remember toe, ball, heel on every landing to prevent injuries. Regularly using weights (under supervision) to improve your jump is an excellent tool as well as the resistance band training but working your feet throughout the entire class EVERY class in the full knowledge of WHY you are using them is the key to great elevation.