By Geo Hubela
In attempting to breakdance, many young dancers recklessly throw their bodies around; going to the floor for a freeze, they put all the support and stress of the move on their necks.
What scares me most with freestyle circles is when kids go into a headstand and attempt a head spin. The exit is usually the most dangerous part, because dancers who don’t have the upper-body strength to support themselves tend to roll onto their backs; when this movement isn’t controlled, they risk serious neck injury.
Exercise extreme caution and make your students aware of the dangers of certain b-boy power moves. Stress that no dancers (regardless of age) will be allowed to attempt head spins until they have been trained to do so.
For safety reasons, students should learn b-boy moves from an expert only.
Before learning a spin, dancers should have great upper-body strength and be able to hold a basic headstand for 3 to 5 minutes. They should learn to hold a headstand with their legs open in a side split (knees slightly bent), making sure hip and leg muscles are engaged.
A head spin is simply a spinning headstand. Head and body spin as one piece, which requires a strong core with muscles engaged for control. The moment the spin stops or students feel like they will fall, they should fall; trying to spin when the head has stopped moving but the body’s momentum continues can cause neck injuries. Teach students to put their feet on the floor to support their body weight instead of collapsing and flexing the neck and risking injury.
The next step is to learn how to tap, or push off the floor with both hands to gain momentum and speed while maintaining stability.
All power moves should be learned in stages. Positioning, balance, and stability should be perfected before doing the move full out. Once the students have their taps and spin, they can begin to relax the legs and let momentum guide the spin. A helmet is a great tool for learning this move.