Landing Jumps and Trusting Partners
by Patrick Corbin
We want students to jump high and give the illusion of being suspended in midair. But what about landings? Do your students make a lot of noise when they land? Are they able to bounce high in the air but unable to put their heels down when landing? Landing carelessly is likely to lead to injuries. To develop a strong, sustainable, and healthy jump, a young dancer must develop a pliant landing with a generous plié. Here are two helpful directions that are easy for students to remember and effective in reminding them to land softly.
- “Don’t jump, land.” This instruction shifts the emphasis from the jump to the landing.
- “Land with your muscles, not your bones.” This instruction helps students understand that landing should not be haphazard but deliberate, an aspect of technique they consciously control.
Trust may be the most crucial aspect of partnering. Partners must have faith in each other to achieve the sometimes seemingly impossible tasks that choreography calls for. One way to build this trust is an exercise I call “Blind Date.”
Pair students (gender doesn’t matter) and have them take turns leading, hands placed firmly on their partners’ bodies, and being led. Those being led should close their eyes and allow the leaders to direct them around the room. Instruct students to change up how they lead, such as using one hand or two, or holding an elbow or shoulder. Have the pairs walk, increasing speed as their trust increases, until they are running around the room. The leaders should gently but confidently change directions to avoid collisions.
Although this exercise can be unsettling for those being led, ideally it builds trust between partners. Once you trust your partner, the sky’s the limit.
Patrick Corbin, an assistant professor at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, has an MFA in dance, performance, and choreography from NYU. He danced with The Joffrey Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and his own troupe, CorbinDances.