A good warm-up is designed to prepare the body and the mind to participate safely and efficiently in movement activities. In the case of The Australian Ballet, a warm-up is done to prepare for a ballet class, rehearsal or performance.
The below videos are designed as a starting point for a warm-up and work well as a brain break at school or in preparation for more dance activity.
Explore the FAQs below to learn more about warming up safely and then scroll down to our follow-along videos for primary and secondary to get moving.
What is a warm-up?
A thorough warm-up starts with small mobility movements, that gradually increase in size and energy, ensuring that you warm-up all the parts of your body that are involved in dancing. A simple way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to start your warm-up with movements of the head and neck, and finish with your toes. You may also include whole-body movements such as jogging, skipping, cycling, or playing a movement-based game. The focus is on gently moving through the range of joints, waking up the body and activating your muscles ready to support you.
The aim of a warm-up is to increase:
- blood circulation
- heart rate
- muscle temperature
- speed of nerve impulses
- the ability of joints to absorb shock
A warm-up also:
- helps to prevent injury
- assists us to perform movements with more ease and efficiency
- provides an opportunity to focus the mind ready for activity
How long is a warm-up?
At least 15 minutes, but ideally 20-30 minutes.
Our warm-up videos are great for brain breaks or to keep students moving, but if you are using them to prepare for more intense dance movement then it is a good idea to add some additional locomotor movements (jogging, skipping, hopping) or a movement game to extend the warm-up.
A warm-up is generally adequate if students are beginning to perspire but are not becoming out of breath.
Many of the benefits of a warm-up are gone after 30 minutes of rest. So, if you rest for 30 minutes, you must warm up again!
Should a warm-up include stretching?
A warm-up may include some dynamic stretching. This is where you move through the range of a joint using the body’s weight and strength to move it, gradually increasing the range of movement as you become warm. An example of this would be a gentle leg swing.
Static stretches, where you hold a stretch for a sustained period, should be avoided during a warm-up. Static stretching can lead to a period of muscle weakening, whereas the aim of a warm-up is to wake up and activate the muscles.
How can I ensure safety?
Make sure there is enough space for each student to move freely without bumping into anyone or anything. This can be measured by stretching both arms out horizontally and turning around once, to ensure there is enough clear space in all directions. Students should have enough space to raise their arms above their head, and enough space around their feet to avoid kicking anything. Students can visualise this as a bubble or sphere of clear space around them.
Ensure the floor is swept, non-slip and free of spills. Concrete floors should be avoided when possible, especially for jumping, as it puts unnecessary strain on bones and joints.
What are some tips can I give my students on their alignment?
Posture relates to how we align our body. In ballet we aim to have a lengthened spine and broad shoulders, and usually avoiding slouching (unless we’re playing a particular character). This lengthened posture allows our ribs to expand and contract fully so that we can breathe well, assists the muscles of the back and stomach to engage to protect our spine, and gives us the best range of motion.
Knee alignment is important whenever bending the knees or landing from a jump. To avoid strain to the body, the knee joint should align with the middle of the foot when the knees are bent.
Planking (push up position) can be done with knees on the ground to lessen the load on the arms. It is important in this position that shoulders are aligned over hands and stomach muscles are engaged to keep the torso in a straight line.
Early Childhood / Lower Primary Warm-Up
Follow along with our dance educators in a fun warm up for Early Childhood / Lower Primary.
Head to Toes
Words and actions for students to follow along with to identify their body parts. (Designed for Pre-school and up)
Middle / Upper Primary Warm-Up
Follow along with our dance educators in an energising warm-up for middle and upper primary students.
Secondary Warm-Up (general level)
This warm-up activity is designed for secondary students at a general level. It does not require previous dance training.
Secondary Warm-Up (for students with dance experience)
This warm up activity is designed for secondary students with a minimum of one year of technical dance training.
A cool-down activity for after exercise. A cool-down helps us to slow down our body and prepare for the next part of our day.