Welcome back to From the Top Dance Blog, you guys! Today we are talking about how you can improve your developpes! Developpes are a move that, like all other things in dance, takes a lot of practice to achieve. They can also be a little bit on the tricky side seeing as though you are working to extend your leg at a height that defies the laws of gravity. However, such a move would not exist if it could not be done! There are various aspects to work towards in order to get a develop at a good height and today we are going to cover many, if not all of those bases! So, grab a snack and let’s get started!
Let’s start with the exercises, shall we? Lower body exercises are extremely important for developpes because developpes are all about lower body strength. The muscles that we will focus on the most are the quads, hamstrings and hip flexors, all of which are used in developpes. We’ll also focus a little on abdominal strength as well.
These things just pop up everywhere don’t they? Releves are not only great for ankle and foot strength, but they are also a killer calf and quad workout. They’re even used in different genres of fitness, such as pilates, to increase leg strength. Doing 16 counts of releves daily will make a huge difference in your leg strength in what seems like record time! At the end of every night or first thing in the morning, do 4 releves in first position, 4 releves in coupe on the right, 4 releves in coupe on the left and end with 4 releves in first position.
Squats?! Yes, squats. In the overwhelming butt revolution taking over social media, people really only mention squats as an exercise to make your tushy bigger but this is an exercise that does so much more that! Squats are a great way to tone your legs and make your quads and hamstrings stronger, which is a huge plus for nailing beautiful developpes! And actually, there are ways to do squats that will tone and strengthen your lower body without making you Kim Kardashian. Unless, of course, if you want to be. No judgment here!
Start with your legs hip width apart, toes parallel, shoulders back, abs tight. From there, push yourself back as if you’re sitting down in a chair and come back up, squeezing your lower body. Repeat this sequence for 10-15 reps. Make sure your knees are directly over your ankles and not over your toes. You don’t want put too much pressure on your knees.
“The Lily Pad”
Isn’t that a cute name? This is an old school exercise that I learned back in the day during jazz classes. The Lily Pad, as I have affectionately named it, is a great exercise to strengthen your hip flexors. Having strong hip flexors are needed in a developpe to help your working leg raise higher and help your supporting leg stand strong and stable. Start by sitting on the floor in a Z formation, one leg bent in front of you and the other leg bent behind you.. From there, shift your weight forward and with your back leg still bent, lift it up and pulse for 4 counts of 8. Switch and repeat on the other side.
Exercise #4- “SIT-UPS”
Another huge way to improve your developpes is by also working on your abdominal strength. This can be done with many different exercises but sit ups, though they may be classics, are such an effective way to increase your core strength and quickly too! Just by doing one set of 10-20 sit-ups throughout the week, you will begin to see such a huge difference in your abdominal strength, which in return will help support those developpes and get them higher!
Now, on to the tips!
Tip number one is something I learned from the lovely Katherine Morgan when I was working to improve my developpes and that is to put your mental focus on your supporting leg instead of on your working leg. Sometimes we can focus too much on getting our leg higher, but mentally focusing on your standing leg instead of your working leg has a way of really allowing your leg to just simply work and do what it has been trained to do. It’s reverse psychology and it may sound a little strange but if you try it, you will see such a dramatic difference!
Tip number two is to turn out your working leg from your hip. Turned in legs never really give a lot of freedom of movement and what freedom it does give is very limited. So, with that being said, let’s try something! Stand up and try lifting your leg normally with your working leg turned in. Now try lifting your leg with your working leg turned out. You should notice an immediate difference! Your working leg won’t be able to lift to a higher angle if its range of motion in restricted. So, remember to always turn out those hips!
And finally, tip number three is to lead your working leg out with your heel instead of your toe. The next time you do a developpe, lift your working leg up, pass it through passé and when you extend the leg, offer the heel forward with your toes pointed. This will take a lot of pressure off of the tip of your foot and will make the motion a lot more comfortable.
Well dancers, that’s all for today’s post! Thank you so much for stopping by every Friday and taking From the Top along with you on your dance journey! I hope that this post and any other post that you have read here continues to help you in your dance knowledge, improvement and career! Have a great weekend and I’ll see you all next week! And remember…