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General, How To...

Keeping Dancers Warm in Winter

During the winter months dance studios can feel chilly, especially when students first enter. Although students work up a sweat by the end of class, the room may still feel quite cold to students who are just beginning a class. So how do dancers keep warm and cozy when the temperatures start to drop?

In order to keep their muscles warm and prevent injury while preparing for the most strenuous parts of the class, it can be beneficial for students to wear extra layers during warm-ups and stretching. If your teachers allow you to wear warmer layers over your regular dress code (usually a leotard and tights), go ahead and take advantage of this so you can warm-up comfortably and properly.

Today dance warm-ups come in many different colors, styles, and sizes. Choosing warm-up gear can be lots of fun and add style to your dance wardrobe, in addition to keeping those muscles nice and toasty. Here are some suggestions for different styles of dance class.

In ballet, it is important for your teacher to still be able to see your body lines and technique while warming up at the barre. Legwarmers are appropriate, since they keep your lower legs and ankles warm, but do not hide your ankles or feet. Ballet sweaters, or tight-fitting wrap sweaters, or shrugs can help to warm your arms, shoulders and upper back. When wearing a sweater, make sure that it fits snugly so that your body line and arms are still visible. It should also be secured in place, so that you don’t feel the need to adjust it or pull it back on your shoulders after every exercise.

In other dance styles, you may be able to wear sweat pants or a heavier long sleeve shirt over your dress code clothing. When wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts, or other pieces of warm-up gear, make sure that they are as form-fitted as possible and do not cover your hands or feet.

If you would normally warm-up barefoot in a particular class, it may be appropriate to wear socks to keep your feet warm. Be extra careful when doing certain movements in socks because your feet may slip on the floor. To prevent injury, it may be better to wear ballet slippers or another appropriate type of dance shoe if your feet are too cold to begin the class barefoot.

In all cases, it is important to listen to your teachers and follow the policies for dress code and dressing in colder weather. If you are able to wear extra layers for warm-ups, make sure that they are form-fitting, still show your body lines, and do not hide anything. Layers are for keeping your muscles warm and pliable, not for covering up your body. When you have finished warm-ups and begin the class exercises, you should be warm enough to start taking off your extra layers.

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About Terry

Terry Finch is a dance teacher and choreographer with an extensive training and teaching background that spans 26 years. Terry has held a variety of teaching positions, from assisting instructors at her dance studio, to teaching at summer performing arts camp, and leading college level master classes. She is currently in her fourth year as a dance teacher at a studio in central Pennsylvania.

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