By Mignon Furman
Stiff and strained-looking hands and fingers, along with thumbs that stick out, show tension in dancers. To help them relax, have them circle their wrists in both directions and feel their fingers move.
Visible strain in the shoulders and an extended ribcage usually indicate that dancers are not breathing correctly. Have the students place their hands on the ribcage with fingers pointing toward each other and breathe in very deeply, so that the space between the hands increases as the ribcage expands. Make certain that they do not raise their shoulders. Have them hold their breath and then blow out through the mouth (quite sharply); this should bring the ribs into alignment and relax any strain in the shoulders.