JUMP ROPE

In my quest to build up my singing stamina, I was reminded of a brilliant, fun, easy, and often  overlooked form of exercise.  JUMP ROPE!  The video that reminded me of all the glories jumping rope has to offer is actually a youtube clip of an opera master class taught by Victoria Clarke – one of my favorite Broadway performers!    (I have no rights to this video at all – and do not know who to credit –  but I wanted to share it!)

What a wonderful way to test out your breath control/work on your breath control!  Jumping rope is HARD!

WHICH, leads me to another challenge to present to you dear readers!  Since the weather is warming up, if only for a few days, it’s time to start thinking about fun times in the park.  You can buy a jump rope for as little as  $4.    Go out, buy one, and try to jump rope for 30 seconds straight!  It’s way harder than it looks.  If that is too easy, try 1 minute and so and so forth.   THEN try singing whilst jumping!   Build up your cardio, strengthen your muscles, improve your breath control, and tone up your body.    Maybe one day you can be as amazing as the US Naval Academy!

If you aren’t ready for the fancy US Naval academy moves, check out this video from Expert Village.  
And here is advice from eHow on how to buy the perfect jump rope for YOU!  (And, no, it’s probably not the thin plastic purple sparkly one with The Little Mermaid stamped on the handles – as tempting it is.)  

Instructions

  1. Determine how you will use the jump rope. Obviously, you’ll be jumping. But there are a surprising number of different jump-rope exercises. Some people speed-jump, while others perform tricks or integrate non-jumping moves into their program. Your use will determine the type of jump rope you should buy.
  2. Decide which type of jump rope fits your needs. Speed ropes are lightweight and are made for fast jumpers. Woven cloth ropes won’t bounce off the ground, but they show wear easily. Beaded ropes are durable and work great for general jump-rope routines.
  3. Consider where you are going to jump rope before you buy. If you plan on jumping rope outdoors, you may want a heavier jump rope that won’t be affected by the wind and that can stand up to the elements.
  4. Measure the length of jump rope you need. Stand on the middle of the rope, then pick up the handles and pull them up toward your armpits. Each handle should reach a height equal to that of your armpits. If you can’t measure a jump rope itself, use a piece of string to determine the length you need.
  5. Shop for a good quality jump rope at a sports or fitness store in your community. If you can’t find anything you like, check out the selection on the Web. If you buy a jump rope online, verify the correct length you need before you make the purchase.
  6. Buy your new jump rope!




HAPPY JUMPING!  I now need to go buy a jump rope of my own so I can take my own advice!:)

Question for the readers – do you have any singing stamina tips?

Usually I give out fitness advice on this blog, but today I would like to ASK for advice!

I consider myself to be an in-shape person.  I take daily dance and pilates classes. I’m an “always take the stairs and walk when you can” kind of girl.  I can make it through a 3 minute figure skating routine.  (3 minutes sound paltry?  YOU try it!)  What I can’t do – is make it through Juliet’s Waltz (AKA “Je Veux Vivre” from Gounod’s opera ROMEO AND JULIET) without being completely exhausted halfway through and needing a very hearty meal and long nap afterwards.

So, if you are a singer (or musicians of any kind), I would love to know what you do to get yourself in shape for long and challenging songs.  Are there any special breathing or music exercises you do?  Are there concentration exercises?  How do you pace yourself?   If you have any suggestions please e-mail them to musclesformusicians@gmail.com and I hope to include them in a future blog entry!  Help out your fellow musicians – and your fellow dancers trying to get their voices in shape!  It would be much appreciated.

SPOTLIGHT ON AVITAL!

It’s been a week since my last post, but trust me, good things are worth waiting for!  Today my SPOTLIGHT is on a wonderful talented lady named Avital Asuleen who is currently teaching beginning theatre dance classes at Liberated Movement.  If you are smart, you will take her class because boy can this lady audition!:)  And she will help you rock your auditions as well!  She describes here class thus:

A great class for actors, singers who move, or dancers looking to brush up on their acting! This class will begin with a high energy show tune warm up that will stretch, align, and tone the body. We will then move across the floor, working our kicks, turns, and jumps, and will culminate each week with an original center combination.  Combinations will range stylistically from traditional theater through Fosse and Bennett, and will always help you dance with more confidence and style! Open to dancers of any level, although some previous dance experience is suggested but not required. Please wear comfortable clothes, and character shoes, jazz shoes, or jazz sneakers if you have them. Otherwise, bring a pair of socks!
It is taught every other Monday so the next class is February 21.  Mark your calendars NOW!
She was kind enough to create a video for this blog that will give you a tiny sample of her theatre dance class!  Additionally, with it, you can practice learning choreography in your living room!  She rocks.  So without further ado – here is AVITAL!
(P.S. we are all jealous of Avital for how closely she resembles Snow White!)

What is your pursued career? 


Musical theater performer, choreographer, and director. 

What are favorite forms of exercise and why? 


I love hill sprinting for a great total body workout- run up a hill with as much intensity as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 90 seconds, and repeat until you feel like you might die. On a lighter note, I love a great Jazz class, yoga, and Pilates!


What are your favorite classes (in any form of fitness) in the city and what do you love about them? 


I love Randy Skinner’s Theater Dance and Tap classes. He’s a true genius, and his class packs so much ” bang for your buck”, so to speak. Also, I love Jody Moccia’s Floor barre. It’s not a class I get to often anymore, but man, if you want to figure out your alignment, it’s the BEST! Both of these classes are at Steps on Broadway. 


What do you do at home or on the road to stay in shape when you can’t get to a class or the gym?


I play with my Therabands a lot- these are great stretchy resistance bands that come in all colors/levels. Great to work your feet with! I also enjoy just moving though a series of my favorite stretches, giving myself short ballet barres and I hold a planks (think a pushup position before you go down to the ground), both regularly, then with out one arm and one leg, and then side planks. 

How do you approach a dance/movement audition? 


Honestly, probably a lot like a singer- while I consider myself a strong dancer, dance auditions STILL fill me with anxiety. But, I usually think of the job at the end of it- if I want the job, then I think of the characters in the show, and how I can bring that to the table in the audition room.


What advice would you have for non-dancers in a dance audition?


 Stay grounded, and stay on the beat. Truly gifted dancers take command of the space- and they do this by controlling gravity in ALL directions. You want to focus on looking Solid, even if you can’t catch all the steps. So you miss the big tricks- really land the final pose! Think of how a gymnast “sticks” to a mat when they really nail it- try for that, no matter what happened before.


Ditto for the beat- dance on the music, even if that means jumping over every other step! It shows a far greater amount of professionalism than trying to chase the combination. 

***
And now for the best part!  AVITAL’S VIDEOS!  (all filmed at Steps on Broadway)
Here she is teaching a small section of a beginning theatre dance combination:
And here she is doing the combination full out with music!
And now she breaks down a step ball change – a very important theatre dance step!
I hope you enjoyed Avital’s Q&A and videos!  Don’t forget to take her class at Liberated Movement!  

Water Rabbit Quadricep Stretching!

It’s the Chinese New Year!  We are now entering the year of the WATER RABBIT!  Since I personally had a less than stellar 2011 New Year, I have decided I am going to celebrate the Chinese New Year and get my new start on a FABULOUS year today!

And what better way to start off a fabulous Water Rabbit year than with one of my favorite quadricep stretches – demonstrated once again by my delightful friend Colleen!

It is—- THE LUNGE!  If you have overactive quad muscles like me, this is a fabulous way to stretch out and lengthen the muscles, as well as warm them up for physical activity – especially hopping around like, well, like a water rabbit!

Here Colleen is demonstrating a basic lunge position.

Some things to keep in mind are – don’t worry if you can’t go down as far as Colleen – she is a professional!  Also, try and keep your hips square and facing forward.  What we are taught as kids is to pretend there are car headlights on the front of each hip bone, and the lights need to shine straight ahead.  Also, try and keep your feet in line with your hip bones.  Most people (myself included) have a tendency to let the back leg wander way out to the side.  Wandering is good for a lazy springtime walk – but not for this stretch.  
If you want to make it a wee bit more challenging, and can grab your back foot with the opposite arm (AKA – the arm you are not using help prop yourself up!)  This will stretch your quad out even further!
Again – make sure your hips are square!  If you have knee problems – be very GENTLE!  (As with all of these exercises!)
And of course switch sides!
If you are hardcore, you can do this stretch on a wood floor, but I HIGHLY suggest finding something soft and fuzzy to make it more comfortable on your joints.  A yoga mat, towel, or blanket would do just fine!:)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
And now – some Water Rabbit facts – courtesy of USBridalguide of all places!

THE WATER RABBIT 1903 AND 1963
Delicate and docile, Water Rabbits will pretty well go with the flow to avoid any conflict or argument. These situations hurt them and bother them because they are such sensitive creatures. They are usually sociable and relaxed, although sometimes they get withdrawn and introspective. They are supportive with family and friends as well as business partners and display an empathy that makes people flock to them for friendly advice and comfort. Sometimes, they can easily be taken advantage of because they are so generous with themselves and their emotions. So they have to be careful not to let their guards down so quickly.




Random Dancing Challenge

I know I have been rather horrible about blogging this past week.  I promise exciting things are in store including our FOSSE special, ZUMBA with Danielle, a HIPHOP section with Matt, and a very special Yoga with Jean-Paul entry!  Quality not quantity.

In the mean time, I challenge everyone who reads this blog to put on music, your favorite music, and dance wildly and crazily in your living room for the entire duration of the song.  (For those not used to random dancing – I would strongly suggest choosing a selection SHORTER than Ravel’s Bolero)

People forget that dance is supposed to be FUN and is about using your body in crazy exotic ways to express an emotion!  I was recently reminded of this when my roommate put on the final movement of Sibelius’ violin concerto and we both began wildly dancing around the apartment.   Yes, I know this makes us the world’s biggest nerds, but it was fun.  My roommate, who does not dance (ever), said you HAVE to blog about this.  It is so much fun and is inspiring me to take dance class now.  So there you have it – random dancing the MOST FUN work out you can have – and will inspire you to take class – and learn about your body’s range of motion!

ALSO – after Sibelius, continuing with our nerdiest household ever trend,  I put on Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from IL TROVATORE, and tried to do push-ups.  You should know, I have the weakest most anorexic arms on the planet and usually just crumble on the floor or feign an injury during the “push-up/plank” section of any pilates or dance class.  But – when I put on a piece of music that I truly loved and got me all riled up, I felt as though I could do anything, and did my push-ups for the entire chorus.  They were horrible push-ups, my nose definitely did NOT touch the floor, my elbows barely bent, and despite my best efforts, my core was not engaged, but that’s not the point.  The point is I was at least TRYING, something I wasn’t willing to do sans awesome music.  The next day in pilates class, I actually held my plank position for the full minute and did all the push-ups to the best of my ability.  The Anvil Chorus was definitely going through my head the entire time.  So if you have a challenging dance step or fitness exercise you dread, I high urge you to put on most motivating music and just GO FOR IT!

That is my challenge to you!  Dance randomly to your favorite music, and do some push-ups!

I leave you some “official” RANDOM DANCING from Nickelodeon’s “iCarly.”  (Yes – to ADD to my dorkdom, I do in fact watch iCarly.  And so should you – those kids know how to randomly dance!)