Dance Program Overview
Dance is one of those aspects of gymnastics that is difficult to properly integrate into the average gymnastics program.
There are several reasons for this. In a gym with only a male gymnastics coach, the coach usually doesn’t have much experience (and interest?) in dance, preferring to work on bars, tumbling, vault and such. While there are only a few dance requirements on floor and beam and few specific dance deductions in the sport, the training time requirements to become proficient, much less outstanding, in them, is measured in years.
Ballet, Jazz, and Modern Dance for Gymnastics
While ballet is, perhaps, the standard for the sport, there are a number of other disciplines that are often used complicating the training process. Jazz, modern and even break-dancing are often used in optional floor routines, since the floor exercise requirement for changes in music tempo often require changes in the style of dance to match.
Ballet is a Gymnastics Basic
Russians and other Eastern Europeans have trained their gymnasts from the beginning of their careers with ballet barre and floor drills. It is an integral part of their training and development as a gymnast and is reflected in their intricate choreography.
Gymnastics vs. Dance
In the United States, gymnasts tend to be the type that didn’t like gymnastics dancing classes. Dancers and gymnasts tend to be two separate types of people and gymnasts at early ages often don’t like dance training as compared to gymnastics activities.
Gymnastics dance training, in spite of all the talk and professed beliefs about training in progression, tends to be taught in this country by working only on the required skills or the skills with rated difficulty without mastering all the prerequisite steps.
There has been some positive progress for dance training in the sport. Male coaches used to just wait for their gymnasts to get to about thirteen years old and get interested and naturally display more “danceability”. About that age girls often become interested in dance themselves and work on it on their own.
Dance Training and Choreography
As well as that perhaps surprisingly worked, it was no systematic method of training and made it harder for American gymnasts to compete against classically ballet trained competitors. Those American gymnasts who did well in the dance aspects of the sport did so primarily on their innate talent and own efforts and a few exceptional choreographers. Most gyms now make some effort to provide as good a dance program as they can.
The Need for Quality Dance Training
Still, those gymnasts and parents who are serious about their gymnastics need to do whatever is necessary and possible to obtain the best quality dance training either within their gym or outside. For younger gymnasts who don’t practice everyday or practice limited hours, dance training can be fit in relatively easily. For gymnasts practicing every day, close scheduling or private lessons may provide the solution.
Systematic Dance Training
While we don’t ever expect to see a gymnast competing in toe shoes on beam, we can all certainly see the advantages for a systematic dance training program for serous gymnastics competitors. Until such programs are commonplace in gymnastics gyms, gymnasts may have to make their own arrangements to augment their gymnastics dancing training.
For some very interesting choreography concepts check out our Secrets to Gymnastics Choreography e-Book.
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