Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Over crossing is key to the look of Irish dance. You may have heard your teacher say "cross" or "knees open" in class, but how can you actually achieve perfect crossover?
There are four distinct aspects of crossing: adductor strength, core strength, hamstring strength, and hip stability. Each of these four areas is unique and they all work together to achieve perfect crossover. We've broken down each technique and included exercises specific to each aspect of crossover below!
1. Adductor Strength
The adductors are a group of muscles on the inside of your leg, running from your pelvis to the inside of your knee. These muscles help stabilize the pelvis, but also work to adduct your leg, or move your leg towards the midline of your body (add your legs together). This means your adductors play a crucial role in crossing! Try the below exercise to start strengthening your adductors, and be sure to actively engage this muscle when you dance.
Side Plank on Chair
- Lift bottom leg and hold for 3 sets of 0:10 to start. Gradually increase time.
2. Core Strength
When dancers try to emphasize their crossing without having the proper strength and mobility, their body has to find a way to 'cut corners' to achieve the desired crossing. This almost always results in dancers twisting their upper bodies. To correct this, developing core strength, especially strength in your obliques - the muscles on the sides of your core - is critical. Try this exercise to isolate your obliques and ensure you cross over correctly!
- Alternate upper body with lower body, reaching your shoulder to your opposite knee.
- Complete 3 sets of 10 slow and 20 double-time.
3. Hamstring Strength
Your hamstrings, or the muscles running along the backs of your thighs, are your key knee flexors - the muscles responsible for bending your knee. Developing hamstring strength is crucial for maintaining good crossing through your entire dance - they are the muscle that ensure you cross over every time you lift in the back. Try the below two exercises to strengthen your hamstrings, and next time you practice think about engaging your hamstring when you lift to cross your foot over!
4. Hip Flexibility
Like any Irish dance technique, crossing requires both strength and mobility. Like we mentioned before, you need strong adductors, hamstrings, and core to cross, but you also need hips that are flexible enough to ensure you can actually cross your legs all the way over the midline of your body. Without the proper hip mobility, you won't be able to fully cross your legs and your body may 'cheat' your legs over by twisting your upper body. Add in foam rolling your hip flexors like your TFL and your IT band daily to help perfect your crossing!
Looking for more exercises to improve your Irish dance crossover? Head over to the Target Training Online Institute and try the 7 Day Crossover Challenge! This challenge is designed to hit these 4 key areas to improve your crossing in just 7 days.
Not training with us yet? Your first month is FREE when you use the code 1MONTHFREE on the 'Trainer' level subscription. Get started today at institute.targettrainingdance.com