warming up for dance

The Secret to Warming Up for Dance Auditions…The Right Way!

I get it. Warming up for dance auditions is challenging. You’re squished into a tiny holding room that’s basically a landmine of dance bags, water bottles, and feet. 

Half the room is doing their makeup, the other half is waiting to find out if they’ll be seen. And everyone else is being very particular about “the line.” 

It’s noisy, cramped, and definitely not an ideal space to warm up for dance. Especially if you are trying to actually warm up – not just sit in a deep second while you catch up with your friends.


But despite its challenges, studies show that warming up before auditions (or any physical activity)  improves performance. 

Active and passive warm-ups ensure your muscles are supplied with oxygen and are at the at optimal temperature for flexibility and efficiency, and it  helps to minimize stress on your heart. Because of this, warming your body up for dance also helps reduce the risk of injuries to muscles and tendons because they are already stretched and warmed.


Think of it like turning the air conditioner on. At first, the AC has to work extra hard to bring the temperature of the room down. But once it’s cooled, you can change the setting to “energy saving” which simply “maintains” the temperature by working at a lower energy level. 


So what should I do when warming up for dance auditions and classes?


A good warm up exercises bring the body temperature and heart rate up without over exhausting your system. 

The biggest thing is we want your warm up to be dynamic; consisting of an active cycle and a passive cycle (post warm up when you keep your body warm while waiting). 


A great way to do this is to have a consistent, active warm up that you do every time you are warming up for dance. That way, whether you are auditioning, taking dance class, or doing pre-production, your body is prepped to do what it needs to do. 


Then, after your active warm up, keep your layers on and stay warm. 


And Finally, don’t forget to warm up your mind. 


Studies have shown that athletes who prepare their minds before working out feel less stressed and more mentally ready use mental skills to exercise than those who did not.

Imagine walking into an audition room feeling less stressed, mentally focused, and ready to work physically?

A dream.


Want a sample of what warming up for dance should look like with all this in mind?

I thought you’d never ask.


Warming Up for Dance Auditions- Holding Room Approved!

Before we even start, I want you to first find a little space. In all my years as a professional dancer, I have learned that if you claim space people will give it to you. 

Now, don’t be a jerk, but find enough room to warm up, and people will respect that. Usually an acceptable rule of thumb is, enough room to do a plank will give you enough room to warm up. 

Let’s get started: 


  • Good Mornings:

Now that you have room, stand with your feet hip width apart and place your hands on your hips. 

Now, soften your kneels and gently hinge your hips back, keeping your core braced. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings and a contraction in your glutes as you stand. 

Repeat this about ten times to “wake-up” the backs of your legs. 


  • Lunge with a Twist

For this one you’ll want to lunge forward, keeping your hips square. 

Then, slowly twist your shoulders toward your front leg,  and reach your arms in opposite directions. 

Finally, return to center and step back to parallel. 

Repeat on the other side, alternating for a total of 12 reps (6 on each side). 


  • Runner’s Lunge with Flexion and Extension

This warm up is wonderful for kicking on your glutes and core while also opening up your psoas muscle. 

To set yourself up, get into a lunge with bloth legs bent. For high intensity, place your hands on your hips rather than the floor. (If you choose to keep your hands on the floor, make sure your hips maintain a straight line with your back and remain square). 

Next, slowly straighten your back leg by pushing through your heel. Then, slowly bend back to the starting position. 

Repeat this for ten reps on each side. 


*Tip: the slower you move, the more challenging this exercise will be!


  • Kneeling Hip Tucks

Stay in your kneeling position for this one! Place your hands on your hips and, keeping your spine neutral, tuck your hips then return to neutral. 

You should feel the stretch in the front of the back leg, so long as your hips remain square, and your glutes stay engaged!

Repeat for 12-15 reps on each side. 


  • Kneeling Hamstring Hinges

You may want to place something under your knee for this one!

To set up, you’ll simply extend your front leg from your lunge so that one leg is straight in front of you, while your are kneeling tall on the other. 

To relieve pressure from your knee, make sure you are pushing into the shin of your bent leg and engaging your glutes and core. 

Place your hands on your hips and, maintaining a braced core, hinge your hips backward. 

Squeeze your glutes (much like a deadlift) to push your hips back to neutral. 

Repeat this for 8-10 reps on each side.


  • Hamstring Slides

For this next one, use your dance bag to rest your hand on for balance if you need! 

This warm up has the same starting position as our Hamstring Hinges, except, instead of hinging, you slowly slide your foot forward until you feel a stretch. 


Then, activating your hamstring, pull your hips backward to return to your neutral position.

(To add some extra range of motion, you can pull all the way back into a hinge before returning to neutral if you’re in need that day)!

Repeat this on each side however many times you need until you reach your maximum range of motion. 


  • Eccentric Push-ups (Standard or Kneeling)

Warming up for dance would not be complete if we didn’t warm up our upper body as well!

For this exercise, you’ll want to get into a plank position. (If that is too challenging for you, this also works from a kneeling position as well!) Your hands should aligned with your shoulder.

In your plank remember to gently pull your shoulder blades together, and brace your core. 

Slowly lower yourself toward the floor as low as possible with control. When you’ve reached your max, gentle let yourself down to the floor and reset in your plank. 

Repeat this for 6-8 reps. 


  • Mountain Climbers

Now, that our bodies are warm, let’s raise that heart rate a bit. 

Get yourself into your plank position. Shoulders down, core activated. 

Start slowly, and without letting your hips shoot up to the ceiling, pull your right knee into your chest. 

Then, shoot it back, while your other knee pulls in. 

Repeat this slowly for 4-6 reps, then pick up the pace for 8-10 more. 


Warming up for Dance Auditions, Mentally: 

Warming up for dance mentally is especially important for auditions. 

There is so much chaos around you in a holding room, getting centered is incredibly important. 


A mental warm up also gives you the opportunity to tune into your body and make sure you have enough layers on to stay warm passively. 

This might mean throwing and extra sweatshirt in your dance bag, just in case the wait is long. But maintaining the heat you generated in your warm up will only help you in your audition. 


So, what’s a mental warm up?

A mental warm up centers your mind on the task you are about to do. It strengthens your mind body connection and preps your muscles and nerves for the quick communication that is about to be demanded of them. This, in turn, reduces the stress and anxiety often assicated with performance.  


Sound like that might benefit someone who’s warming up to dance in an audition or show?

warming up for dance mentally






Let’s try it.

This guided mental warm up recommends that you stand- but you can easily do this sitting with a long spine, attention focused on where your sits bones connect with the floor if preferred. 


So, put on some head phones in, and let’s try it. 


Stand tall with soft knees and your feet shoulders width apart. Breathe through your nose and inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. Hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest. 


Take another deep breath through your nose and inhale, again filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. As before, hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest.


 Resume breathing normally. (You can use deep breathing to calm yourself as needed.)


Now take a moment to get a clear mental picture of the main thing you want to accomplish in your audition (or show).  Close your eyes as you think about something that is within your control. 


What do you see in this mental picture of what you want to accomplish? 


Do you notice any sensations in your body? 


How do your muscles feel? 


What sounds do you hear? 


Make the mental picture as clear and vivid a possible.


Okay. Now, let the mental picture fade and focus again on your breathing. 

Stand tall with your knees soft and your feet shoulders width apart.


 Breathe through your nose and inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, and, finally, the upper part. Hold the breath for a few seconds and exhale slowly, relaxing your abdomen and chest.


Now bring back the mental picture of what is in your control to accomplish in this audition (or show). 


 As the clear and vivid mental picture of what you hope to accomplish reappears, what do you see? 


What sensations do you notice in your body? 


How do your muscles feel? 


What sounds do you hear? 


Allow yourself to fully experience this mental pictur and  fill yourself with the belief that you can make it happen today.


Let the mental picture fade once again.


 Imagine a warm glow forming in your stomach, right in your core. 


This warm glow is full of energy and is slowly starts to spread throughout your body.


As the energy spreads, jump up and land with both feet. (or, if sitting, roll through your spine.)


Shake out your arms and feel the energy starting to surge from inside you. Feel the energy launch you into the air again, land, and shake out your arms.


Keep that feeling of energy and, as you do, bring back the mental picture of the main thing you hope to accomplish today one final time.


 Check your energy level. 


Use the warm glow of energy in your body to raise your energy level or your breathing to find the level of energy you need and get yourself ready to perform. 


You have the appropriate level of energy, you know what you want to accomplish, you believe you can accomplish it, and you are ready to do it. On the count of three, we will clap our hands (or tap your thighs, or inhale and exhale) three times and go do it.


A mental warm up like this can be recorded in your voice memos and played over your head phones, or simply meditated on daily! Why limit yourself to pre-performance success if the same can be applied to workouts and other tasks?


Most importantly, I leave you armed not only with the tools for warming up for dance the right way. But I also leave you with a guide for those days when you’re not feeling up for creating something of your own. 

Let us know if you try it.  We love hearing about your wins!

How to become a better dancer

How to Become a Better Dancer: 6 Secrets for Leveling Up Your Technique

When I was in college a professor  whose job it was to teach me how to become a dancer told a horrifying, yet true limerick: 

“Somewhere there is someone working harder and longer than you and when they meet you they will beat you.” 

And while this might send any over-achiever into a “hard-work-spiral,” It’s not untrue.  Anyone pursuing a professional dance career has been to an audition and thought 

“Wow, everyone is so good.”  

Which is often quickly followed by, 

“I need to get my booty to class!”

And while it is true that class time for a professional dancer never ends. There is a lot more to becoming a better dancer than just going to class. 

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First of all:

It’s important that we define what “better” is. Are you wanting to be better at a specific style? Are you wanting more control? Or are you just feeling “blah” in class and hoping to sharpen up your skills overall? For our purposes, let’s define “better” as leveling up your technique. 

Because at the end of the day having more power, more control, and more agility will improve your dance technique in any style of dance you want to pursue. 

Sound good to you? Good.

Learn how to become a better dancer by following these six steps:

First way to learn how to become a better dancerActually Warm Up

Let me guess, the first thing you do when warming-up for class or an audition is drop into a deep second position plié, hands on you knees and you alternate dropping your shoulders forward and back to get a great stretch. 

Did I get it right?

Well, what if I told you that while this feels great, it actually isn’t helping prepare your body to dance at all. In fact, static stretching of the lower limbs has been shown to negatively impact explosive movement performance for up to 24 hours poststretching! What does that mean? It means that sitting in a split or hanging out in a frog before auditions is actually impeding your performance when it comes to jumps and power. Now, I know how it feels to have tight hips and thighs before an audition, but dynamic stretches (stretches that move in and out of a position) can loosen you up just as well, while simultaneously warming up your body.

So what does a good warm-up look like?

A good warm up should increase heart-rate and blood flow so that more oxygen can be moved to the muscles. This will activate the connection between your nerves and muscles which will improve your efficiency of movement. In fact, this study showed that a well created warm up could improve performance in 79% of criterions examined! 

Now, if you’re focusing on how to become a better dancer I know you are an over achiever. So let me emphasize this: a warmup should not exhaust you. But a warm-up should raise your heart rate and *maybe* even get you sweating a bit. This can be accomplished by performing a few compound bodyweight exercises like air squats, push-ups, hollow holds, cossack squats, and dynamic stretches. 

If you’re still struggling with tightness in certain areas, foam roll. Studies have shown that foam rolling can help loosen muscles without the adverse affects seen  in static stretching.


Contrary to what you may have been taught, weightlifting is an incredible cross training tool for dancers. In fact, I’m willing to promise you that weightlifting is absolutely the key to how to become a better dancer. At dancers who lift we’ve seen dancers go from “not being a turner” to whipping out triples in class without even thinking about it. We’ve seen extensions get higher, and control increase exponentially. 

But more than anything, dancers who start a weight training program report higher levels of confidence in class, in auditions, and on stage. Confidence is the number one thing that will set you apart from other dancers. Because you will no longer be worrying about landing that jump, controlling that battement, or completing that turn. Instead, your mind will be free to enjoy the movement. To show everyone in the room why you do this in the first place. 

threeDynamic Stretching

Like me, you may have been taught that it takes 30 seconds for your muscles to fully relax into a stretch. This information lead to years of sitting in stretches for 30 seconds, taking a deep inhale, then relaxing deeper into the stretch on the exhale. And repeating every 30 seconds for about two minutes. While this is a good way to work on the flexibility of your muscles. It’s actually not an effective way to increase your mobility and can actually be detrimental to your performance if used during a warm up as it limits your power. 

Instead, we recommend dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching has been shown to improve speed, agility, and acceleration. This is because it requires that you actively tighten your muscles and move your joints through their full range of motion while you stretch. 

Think about it. When you’re doing a Battement or a Firebird, your muscles and joints are not relaxed in a stretched position. No. They are actively working through a range of motion. Dynamic stretching works through a muscle or joints full range of motion, strengthening the end points to ultimately increase the range of motion. You want to learn how to become a better dancer? Start using dynamic stretches consistently.

Some examples of dynamic stretches are: hip windshield wipers, hip lift offs, low lunge rocks, squat twist and reaches, arms circles, leg swings, and so many more. 

Looking for some mobility flows?

Scroll through the Dancers Who Lift Instagram Reels and follow along!

Fourth way of how to become a better dancer Fuel Yourself

This one is a biggie. I see dancers online bragging about their Cold brew and granola bar before an audition or rehearsal and I think, 

“No. Gorgeous, gorgeous, dancers eat a balanced snack before they dance!”

Have you ever been in audition or rehearsal and felt like you couldn’t retain the combo or pick it up as well as usual? That’s likely because you hadn’t consumed enough protein beforehand. 

Ever felt like, despite taking four dance classes a week three HIIT classes, and walking all over the city you were getting exhausted by the end of a 20 minute audition? That’s likely because you aren’t consuming enough carbohydrates in your diet. 

Ever felt like that last hour of rehearsal was ten times slower than the rest of the day? You probably needed a little more fat to carry you through. 

The reality is, dancers are athletes and we need to fuel our bodies accordingly. Because of how active we are, both in and out of the studio, it is incredibly necessary that we consume a balanced diet of protein, fats, and yes, carbs. 

I promise you, once you start eating enough. You’ll see massive improvements in your dance technique.


I already know you are rolling your eyes. But the fact of the matter is, watching two hours of TV at the end of your day is absolutely not enough rest for you to become a better dancer. One of the most important ways you can work toward improving your dance technique is giving your body enough time to recover and get stronger between classes, workouts, and auditions. 

Constant exercise, and that includes walking all over town, does not give our body enough time to rebuild between training sessions and rehearsals. And what happens when we don’t have enough time to recover? We fatigue faster, our precision and control lags, and our risk for injury increases exponentially. 

As dancers we put our bodies through insane amounts of stress; mentally, physically, and emotionally. Every day we push our minds and bodies to the limit and on top of that we are striving to achieve our dreams. Without rest, that stress can wreak havoc on our bodies leading to lack of choreographic retention and lazy technique. 

So, want your technique to be insanely consistent? REST. 


You want to know how to become a better dancer? Be consistent. If there is anything you take away from this entire blog let it be this. Small consistent steps toward a goal will always better than inconsistent leaps.

Whether you are trying to get stronger, improve your mobility, or balance your diet, consistency is the key to your success.

And the best thing about consistency is, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Maybe you start by committing to doing fifteen minutes of dynamic stretching every other day. Then, as that becomes consistent, you add in eating one extra serving of protein each day. Then after that maybe you start lifting weights two times per week–even one time per week–until you get the hang of it. 

Maybe you’re doing everything on this list. Maybe where you want to gain consistency is showing up once a week to a technique class. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to start!

Consistency does not have to be perfect. It just has to be consistent. 

So, where do you think you’ll start today? Let us know which of these helped you learn how to become a better dancer in the comments or on our instagram @Dancerswholift!

Leaping For Joy: A Dancer’s Guide On How To Jump Higher

Are you a jumper or a turner? A question asked of every dancer at some point in their career. And while some of us naturally jump higher than others, did you know that you can train yourself into being both a jumper and a turner? It’s true! And this quick read will outline exactly how you can train to jump higher and longer than you ever imagined. higher jumps

Scientifically speaking, a training program focused on achieving higher jumps should include both weight training and plyometric training. This means that your workouts should include a mix of lifts to improve lower body power and plyometric exercises that will challenge your endurance and end range of motion strength. 

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Here’s the thing, understanding how a jump is structured allows us to train each portion of a jump to yield  more power and control. Powerful leaps and jumps are made of three phases: Eccentric, Amortization, and Concentric. 


Let’s take a look at each of these and learn how to train each section and jump higher: 


The Eccentric:

The eccentric point of your jump is two-fold. The first time you utilize this point is in  the “loading” portion of the jump this is the pre-stretch of the muscle which creates stored energy. Later, you re-enter the eccentric point of your jump as you land. This same type of pre-stretch is used for force reduction and deceleration. At this point in the jump knee and ankle stiffness are important for effective force absorption.

A great exercise for training knee and ankle stiffness for landings are pogo jumps.  Bonus? Pogo jumps will bullet proof your Achilles Tendon!

Studies suggest that eccentric training exercises can prevent injuries in dancers– especially when dancers are fatigued. The key to training eccentrically is identifying the eccentric portion of a lift and slowing the tempo down during that phase of the lift. Eccentric exercise occurs when muscles are being lengthened under tension.

For example, an eccentric squat is very similar to a standard squat. However, in an eccentric squat, the lowering portion of the move (when your calves and thighs are lengthening) is done at a slow tempo and to the lowest range of motion possible.

Another great eccentric training exercise for jumps are heels drops. Stand with your toes on the edge of a yoga block or stair, press to relévé then slowly drop the heels below the stair. 

The Amortization: 

The Amortization point in a jump is the time between the end of the eccentric phase/downward force and the concentric phase/upward force. This phase is the key to more powerful and higher jumps, because the shorter the amortization phase the more effective and powerful the plyometric movement. This is because the stored energy is used efficiently in the transition. If there is a delay between these two (like say, sitting in your plié) the stored energy created in the eccentric phase is wasted.

This is another reason why training eccentric movement to end range of motion is important. Because, the stronger your eccentric end range of motion becomes, the faster the amortization time. 

But how else can you train to increase your speed and power through the amortization phase? Plyometrics. Plyometric training will help you jump higher in general. But it will also increase your muscular and aerobic endurance, which will in turn help the amortization time. 

Some examples of plyometric exercises are: Skater hops, Broad jumps, Jump squats, split squat jumps, tuck jumps, and box jumps.


The Concentric:

The concentric point of your jump is the shortening of the muscle where the muscle contracts and produces force. This phase is assisted by the stored elastic potential energy from the eccentric cycle. The concentric phase is critical in any jump. 

How do we train the concentric point of a jump? Largely, by strength training. This study done at Valpraiso University showed that athletes who added Olympic lifts (like dead lifts and power cleans) were able to jump higher and farther than those who did not. 

Some exercises you can add to your training to build strength and power to your concentric phase are: squats, back squats, dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, single-leg Romanian dead lifts, split squats, lunges, split squats with a push off, split squats with a power drive, Bulgarian split squats, courtesy lunges, and reverse lunges.  

Bottom line,  in order to jump higher in class and on stage, we need to be cross training with weightlifting and plyometrics and there are a lot of exercises that will yield higher jumps. What might be more helpful is to film yourself jumping and try to identify which portion of your jump needs the most work. 


Are you struggling with controlled landings? Focus on eccentric movements. 


Finding it hard to get off the floor? Combine plyometrics and weight training to shorten the amortization phase and build power to push through the concentric phase. 


Having a hard time with a specific jump or wanting an “over all” workout to jump higher?


Check out these workouts: 

Auxiliary Workout for Higher Jumps


Cross Training Exercises for Jumps


Lifts for Better Jetés


Tips and Exercises for Calypsos!


Exercises for Center Jumps


How to do a proper deadlift

How to Do a Proper Deadlift: The Ultimate Guide for Dancers

Learning how to do a proper deadlift is not as intimidating as it may seem. Unfortunately, most of the videos you’ll find in a google search feature powerlifters and other gym rat types which can make you wonder, should dancers really learn how to do a proper deadlift? None of these athletes look like us.”  


The answer is, YES! 



weight lifting for dancers personal training






Dancers should absolutely learn how to do a proper deadlift. 

Deadlifts have been scientifically proven to build power (Hello, grande allegro)! Deadlifts also strengthen the posterior chain which greatly contributes to core strength, injury prevention, and facilitates coordination of your limbs! Sound like anything a dancer might need? We thought so too.


So, what makes learning how to do a proper deadlift so challenging?


One of the early challenges when learning how to do a proper deadlift is understanding how a deadlift differs from a squat. At first glance these two exercises look similarly. But on further inspection you’ll learn that a squat (like a plié) moves on the vertical (up and down) plane while a deadlift works in the horizontal plane


A deadlift, is what fitness professionals call a “hinge” movement. A hinge movement is a functional movement meaning, it helps us perform daily tasks like picking up a heavy box from the floor. A hinge movement happens by hinging your hips backwards until your torso reaches a tabletop position. In contract, a Squat movement happens by bending your knees and moving your hips straight down while maintaining an upright spine. 


If you’re having trouble getting the hang of this hinge movement, try setting your deadlift form up in front of a wall. Take two steps from the wall. Then, keeping your shins perpendicular to the floor, hinge your hips backward until they gently touch the wall.  Want more information about how not to “squat your deadlifts?” Check out this form video



One of the most common challenges for dancers as they learn how to do a proper deadlift is the temptation to do a flat back


Yes, you are flexible enough. 


Yes, you might be able to do it with a lighter weight. 


But is it a deadlift? No. 


Is it dangerous for your back and hamstrings? Yes. 


So how do you do a proper deadlift?  Let’s break it down.


Start by setting up your weight. 


If this is your first time deadlifting, I recommend starting with a lighter weight until you get the form locked in. Once you’ve chosen your weight, set your weight up so that the bar is about two inches in front of your shins. 


Next, set up your stance.

Your feet should be about hip width apart, toes in a neutral position. 



Next, you’re going to hinge your hips backwards until your torso hits a tabletop position. From here, gently bend your knees until they kiss the weight.



Grab the bar just outside of your legs, and lift your focus straight ahead, elongating your chest forward. Do not arch your spine. Instead, Brace your spine as if you are doing a hollow hold. Remember when your dance teacher used to say “show off that diamond necklace” when she needed you to open your chest? This is a similar feeling. 



Inhale, and on the exhale, press into your feet as you push your hips back to neutral. Try your best not to hyper extend in your hips at the end. We don’t need any extra tucks or pushes at the top of your lift!


Lower to Reset.

Slowly lower the weight by hinging the hips backward, keeping the shins parallel to the floor. Remember, your shins should be kissing the weight on it’s way down, just as it did on the way up! Let the weight touch the floor and release the spine. Lastly, re-brace the spine, for the next rep and repeat.


And there you have it! You now know how to do a proper deadlift!


The best thing about deadlifts? Besides the many physical benefits of deadlifts, there are TONS of variations for deadlifts. And don’t worry, we have all the deets on common mistakes, form videos, and tips for each of these variations. Such as:


Common RDL mistakes to Avoid


How-to B-stance Deadlift


Tips for Kettlebell Deadlifts

So no matter where your deadlifting journey takes you, Dancers Who Lift has you covered. Want a little more guidance? Check out our 1:1 training program and get all the guidance you need