Cross-Training and Knee Drop
By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro
We typically think about dancing for exercise, but what about exercising for dance? Hip-hop requires strength and stamina, but dancers who start off in the street (like me) may have no prior physical training. Some students struggle to keep up in class because they lack conditioning, not rhythm or ability to pick up steps.
For core strength, balance, and control, suggest body-weight (calisthenic) workouts, targeting all the muscle groups: push-ups, dips, pull-ups, hyperextensions, squats, lunges, crunches, burpees. (Dancers shouldn’t bulk up with heavy weights—we want loose muscles and light frames.) For endurance, suggest cardio exercise like running or swimming.
Remind students to stretch, stretch, stretch; to train smarter, not harder; and to pay attention to understanding their own bodies. They may find that cross-training helps them reach a level of conditioning where dance itself becomes a sufficient workout.
The knee drop is a common but impressive transition to the floor. (Jerkers call it a pin drop.) Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Place the right foot’s shoelace area against the back of the left knee. Keep the foot glued there during the drop; it shouldn’t slide around or pull away. As the left leg starts to bend, the body angles toward the protruding right toe. The left knee keeps bending and the body eases toward the floor, until the right foot lands. Balance on the balls of both feet, weight on the right, left leg crossed in front, hands off the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Make sure students don’t collapse the chest or lean too far forward or sideways in the drop, or they’ll fall over. Beginners can put their hands on the floor. From a knee drop, unwind or corkscrew back to standing, or stay down for ground moves.
Philadelphia b-boy Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro is a member of the Rock Steady Crew and an MFA candidate at Arizona State University. He studied with Crazy Legs and Mr. Wiggles and travels the world teaching.