Depending on the type of dancing that you gravitate to, using the floor efficiently may mean different things. If you’re a ballet dancer, for instance, the use of the floor may entail not just how you move across space but how you pull away or push from the ground. If your dancing is more percussive you may at once scrape and dig into the floor rather than sweep across it.
Beginners will often be told to splay out their toes and feel the whole of the floor beneath their feet rather than just a small portion. If your feet are too closed, they can be immobilised and that makes it more difficult to perform certain moves smoothly and efficiently.
Another way to move more gracefully across the floor is to let gravity do the work for you. Rather than simply dropping to the floor when you perform a dance move, you maintain greater continuity and progress with better fluidity. You create a pathway rather than simply dropping down to the floor.
The key muscle groups in floor work tend to be the eccentric muscles and these can often be weaker than other muscle sets. You can, however, build greater strength by performing exercises such as squats that should give you greater control.
Change How You Think of the Floor
When performing moves such as a releve, it can be tempting to push hard into the floor. This is a mistake, and you should instead be thinking of the ground as a springboard rather than something which needs a physical push. If you bounce off the floor, you should find your moves becoming more graceful and effortless. You should even see your jumps getting higher if you get the timing right.
Floor work can cause a certain amount of pain and discomfort especially when you first start. Dropping your energy levels and effort by around 25% can help reduce any discomfort but also gives you the chance to focus more on the exact movement rather than the exertion.
There are also several different ways you can prepare your body for doing more arduous floorwork:
- Half plies can improve flexibility and strength. Keep your feet parallel and send your pelvis backwards rather than pushing your knees forward. Your lower legs should stay perpendicular to the floor as you do this exercise.
- Next, perform the half-plie again but this time move the upper body and arms forward to act as a counterbalance.
- Another option is to perform a curtsey with one leg behind the other, keeping the feet flat on the floor as you lower yourself down.
Finally, increasing the flexibility of the toes can also help improve your floor work. You can do several exercises here. For example, keep the big toe on the floor and then raise your four other toes. Next, keep the four small toes flat and raise the big toe. Another good exercise involves stretching all the toes out as far as they can go.