Hey! Put down that lippy or that extra layer of glitter that you are about to re-apply! You are about to hit the stage and there’s something you have forgotten…. No, not your pasties (give them a little check – yep, they’re still on…) No, not your crucial prop or even your pants… You’ve forgotten to warm up!
Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but before you do anything physical you really should warm up. No, it’s not a waste of your time – time you think would be better spent on show hair or backstage selfies… Warming up prepares the muscles for what you are about to do, which is important in the rehearsal room when you might be spending an hour or two running over a section and using different muscle groups. It’s also the most important before you hit the stage, as that is really what all those hours, days, months in the rehearsal studio have been leading up to – the 4-or-so mins on stage, and if you go on that stage stiff as a board – or worse, pull something on stage – then all that hard work has been for nothing. It’s very surprising how many performers forget to warm up before they go on stage and then feel like they’ve not performed to their best when they come off. And it’s surprising what is forgotten but really should be warmed up…
- Warming up increases blood flow to the muscles – and muscles you might not usually use
- Reduces the chance of pulling or straining
- Primes your nerve groups
- Focuses you (and believe it or not, calms pre-stage nerves!) onto what you are about to do
- Prepares your heart rate for what you are going to do.
A good warm up should target all muscle groups and also get the heart rate up gradually and you should feel “loose” after. So here’s a few pointers for pre-performance and rehearsal room warm ups. We’ve added in a few extras for those who are less dance and more drama/physical in their routines and we always start with our head down as that way we don’t forget to include anything… But before we begin, don’t do these with your shoes on… we don’t want anyone literally breaking any legs before they get on stage!
- heads – slow figure 8 with the chin, followed by looking to each side and holding for a short count – do not overstretch your neck!
- shoulders – shrugs: lift them up to your ears and drop for a count, move backwards and forwards in a slow shoulder shimmy then rotate circling forwards, rotate backwards and alternate your shoulders rotating one followed by the other for a count. move into rotating your arms
- arms – reach up as far as you can reach, and continue the reach making circles out to the sides, crossing over at the front. Change direction. then shake out
- hands (often forgotten!) – a few fist clenches and finger stretches, rotate your wrists first one way for a count, and then the other, then interlink your fingers and push out your arms in front, palms facing outwards
- chests – lift and drop your ribcage and then reach to the back with your arms, twisting at the waist and hold and repeat on the other side
- pelvis – tilt your pelvis for a count, then move your hips into a big circle from the hips. Do this a few times one way then the other. make a figure 8 with your hips. Push your hips out to one side, then to the other
- Legs – stretch legs in a lunge facing forward, then repeat on each side. Lift one leg out straight in front four times and then the other, then swing through with leg from back to front. Alternate bends and straightens at the knees in a slow shimmy and then speed up
- Feet – point and flex, circle your feet at the ankles one way then the other and then a few lifts on to your toes. Repeat lifts onto your toes but with the focus on landing on your heels.
- face – especially important if you are going on stage! Screw up your face as tight as you can and then open everything as wide as you can – eyes, mouth… repeat for a few counts. Mouth the vowels in an exaggerated way – the bigger the better. Blow out of your mouth like a horse.
- A final shake out of everything – if anyone does drama, this is the rubber chicken! 8 shakes on R arm, 8 on left, 8 shakes of r leg, 8 shakes of l, then repeat with 4 shakes, repeat with 2 shakes then 1s then shake everything…
You can do this without music and standing in a small area (there are other exercises you can do if you want to get on the floor but we know that space at shows is often limited!) You can also do it with music (remember use ear phones, other performers might not want to warm up to your chosen tracks!). You should now feel ready to take on your routine – and the audience!