New training structure
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
- Promoting biomotor abilities (15 minutes)
When we talk about biomotor abilities, we are talking about complex individual prerequisites, movement patterns that are mainly determined by physiological and neurophysiological systems, and body characteristics that require the synchronisation of a variety of sensory and motor information in relation to the space, which surrounds the human body.
The five main skills are: Strength, Endurance, Speed, Flexibility-Coordination.
All of these can be trained in a small space with good results, although to varying degrees.
Some of them, such as the ability of spatio-temporal orientation, which allows us to organise our movements in space and time, can only be partially trained.
A good method to stimulate this coordinative capacity, in addition to structured or free improvisation, which we will see later, is to have the students develop an exercise themselves, thus making them independent of the monitor. In fact, the monitor performs the function of a mirror in a dance studio with the disadvantage of being smaller and not overlapping images. This means that, as when learning a choreography through the video, the dancer is forced to a further elaborative step, passing from a filmic perspective with its own space and time linked to the frame, to the real one linked to the relation of the space of the body in the room/studio.
And if space and time are the coordinates in which the relationship between the self and the world takes place, in an online class this perception is split and a constant mediation between the present self and the filmed self is required.
Leaving the students free to develop the given exercises in space, changing direction or level, frees them from the bond of the self-image on the monitor and brings them back to the self-perceived.
Another biomotor skill that is difficult to perform in an online class is running or jumping. The lack of space and the inadequacy of the floor make these types of exercises inappropriate. As far as jumping is concerned, it is only minimally feasible.
In my classes, I have created very short, low-intensity jumping exercises on the spot alternating with bouncing and other types of preparatory exercises for jumping, such as leg bends with full-speed ascents.
During a dance training session, biomotor skills are usually incorporated into dance exercises specific to the technique being learnt. These usually include speed, strength, coordination and flexibility. In some traditional techniques such as ballet with a fixed training structure, some elements such as endurance have to be trained separately because they are not included in the technique training.
Contemporary dance technique, which emerged in the 1970s, has a more flexible structure and was conceived during the years when movement science and sports science began to be considered in dance environments. Knowing and highlighting the biomotor abilities necessary for the general athletic preparation of an athlete can be crucial to understanding which of these abilities can be increased in online training.
Isometric exercises have proven to be the most appropriate, especially for trunk, front and back muscles.
While for the muscles of the lower and upper limbs I created mainly eccentric exercises. For example, in the leg muscles the quadriceps and its antagonists, the hamstrings, are stimulated in this way without losing their elasticity.
Eccentric training combines stretching and strength training - making the muscles more flexible, stronger and more resistant to injury.
Motor coordination is often difficult to translate correctly due to the two-dimensionality of the monitor, as it is not possible to physically correct the students in execution.
To mediate by minimising the problem, I designed 3 to 4 exercises for different parts of the body, made up of a few elements of movement, to facilitate correct teaching.
Then I let them perform these exercises in different directions and planes of space. After that I asked the participants to combine the different exercises, first consequentially, one after the other in the order they preferred, then creating composed exercises, with the different elements, until reaching a single composition with all elements.
- Room perception exercises (15 minutes)
This unit is very important for videoconference training. The exercises proposed move along all spatial axes and allow participants to perceive and discover a familiar space, their home room, in a new way.
In this training session I rarely create new exercises, rather I develop movement ideas that have already been proposed in previous parts of the training, creating medium-long articulated variations in space.
For example by using the small displacements and lunges from the Plie session, and adding sudden changes of plane and level (combination of rotational movements in the sagittal and coronal plane).
As these exercises are extremely complex due to the variations in space, especially when presented on a monitor, it is important that they are structured according to the modular principle, adding new elements each time the previous ones are assimilated.
- Structured improvisation exercises (20 minutes)
The last part of the training is always dedicated to one or two structured improvisation exercises, in which the participants, starting from the material of the day's lesson, are invited to create new sequences.
I often ask participants to include some elements of the room (walls and furniture) or objects in it. In this phase, participants can definitely emancipate themselves from the monitor and enjoy the movement and music freely.
- Warm-down (5 minutes)
After any sporting dance training it is useful and healthy to take at least 5 minutes to allow the body and mind to return to a state of rest (in this case we could also say a state of reality).
In Blog 20 we mentioned why in an online class even more than in a presence class you need to have a short warm-down time.
In this case the stress is more psychophysical than purely related to muscular effort.
In fact, although I have managed in some cases to get the participants to do a lot of physical work (vigorous activity) for at least half the class, the muscle fatigue is almost always less than the psychological strain of an online class.
I have developed exercises in which the voice of the instructor guides the participants in the execution of short movements guided by the breath, which over time are reduced until the body reaches a state of stillness.
In some cases, I have asked participants in an evening class to end the session lying down and to remain briefly in that position beyond the end of the class (online session) to allow each person to take time to decompress.
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