Training proper acro dance technique must begin early, at the Junior Level, in order to set your students up for future success. However, it can be difficult to explain technical concepts to a 7-year-old.
For example, you likely won’t get the results you’re looking for if you tell a Junior-level student to “lengthen through the spine and create space between each vertebrae” during a handstand. Technical cues will go in one ear and out the other… unless you are able to communicate to your Juniors in a way they can understand. This is where imagery becomes your best friend!
Here are some of my own “go-to” images for key Junior Level tricks:
- Handstands: tell your students to pretend that they have magnets attached to each of their ankles. This helps them bring their second leg all the way up to meet their first, and keep their legs activated and squeezing together.
- Bridge Recover: It can be hard for students to understand that they need to push their hips forward to recover because they are so focused on coming up. Tell these students that you’ve attached fishhooks to their hips and that you are pulling these hooks towards the center of the room.
- Square cartwheel: In order to get nice straight legs from your younger students, have them pretend that they have paint brushes on their toes. When they cartwheel, ask them to paint you a big, tall rainbow – this will help them reach out of their hip joints and stretch through their legs!
Achieving an acro skill involves a lot of hard physical work and repetition. This is especially true with your Juniors, who are still ingraining proper technique into their muscle memory. Using simple images will keep your students mentally engaged, and help them grasp technical concepts. So get creative and start imagining!