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Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Irish dance strength and conditioning, exercises for Irish dancers

Do you see “sitting on knees”, “pull up”, and “dropping” on your feis results? Or are your dance teachers yelling this at you? Do you try to straighten your knees and pull higher up on your toes but you continue to get this comment? When adjudicators and teachers are correcting you to “pull up off your knees”, what they see are your knees bent with no extension. It can be so extreme sometimes that it looks like you’re almost sitting when you dance (in a small squat position). It’s time to work on correcting this common Irish dance problem with three useful tips! 1) Change your Perspective The majority of time when we are dancing, we are focusing on the FRONT foot. It’s the one doing all the tricky movements and requires a ton of accuracy and skill. However when we are talking about pulling up we need to look at our support leg, the BACK leg. Start by video taping a small piece of your step from the side. Slow down the video and only focus on what the leg in the BACK looks like. (Don’t be distracted by anything else…focus only on the back leg). Chances are, you’ll see a bent knee with your heel dropping to the ground. THIS is what your teachers and adjudicators are talking about when they say you’re “sitting”. 2) Alter your Focus Now that we know WHERE the problem is, it’s time to change your focus to what muscles you should be engaging to help assist you in pulling up. The number one muscle group to think about - your glutes (the muscles in your bum). The secondary muscle group to think about is your quadriceps (front of thigh). Film yourself again from the side, dancing the same piece, and think about engaging your glutes and quads, especially the leg that’s in the back. 3) Strengthen Now that you know where to focus your attention when working on pulling up, you need to strengthen your glutes and quads so that you can maintain this form through your entire round. Check out the below video with three of my favorite exercises to work on pulling up. Happy Training!

Ellen G Waller Irish dance, Irish dance strength and conditioning



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