Dance weights are commonly used by belly dancers in order to perfect their technique. However, many genres of dance can include weights in order to get a better workout.
Types of Dance Weights
The most common type of weight for dancing is the belt that is worn by belly dancers while training. This belt is a simple fabric (wide) belt in which several pockets exist. In these pockets, you can add small weights that, all together, are considerably heavy; distributing the weights all the way around the waist evenly makes the weighted belt into an important tool for belly dancers. The weight around the waist helps dancers feel more strongly the movements they are making with their body. Weighted belts can take a well-learned routine and turn it into a masterful, perfect routine.
Dance weights can also be worn around the ankles or wrists in order to strengthen muscles and burn calories. Generally speaking, these will not improve one's performance in genres such as ballet, but they will definitely have an effect on the muscles that have to work extra in order to carry out all the required steps with more than one's own body weight to maneuver.
Using Dance Weights
Weighted belts for belly dancing can be used during the middle portion of learning and perfecting a routine. Essentially, dancers first learn a routine with the help of a choreographer and full-length dance mirrors. Once the routine has been completely learned, the dance weights come into the picture. Simply put on the belt, and try the routine all over again. The routine will probably feel like an entirely different dance.
Using the dance belt and the mirror, you can observe the sharpness and the quality of your movements. The weights increase your awareness of each and every movement, which enables you to increase the impact that your dance will have visually.
Using dance weights in belly dancing for this purpose sounds like an ideal technique; however, there are plenty of dancers who find the weighted belt difficult to handle. In addition, these dancers claim that the belt does not provide technique benefits. For this reason, you may want to try out a friend's belt before spending money on your own.
Exercising with Weights for Dance
Ankle and wrist weights (with small amounts - about one pound or two on each wrist or ankle) can greatly increase the intensity of a dance workout. Whether you do ballet boot camp or an aerobic street dance class, even the smallest weights can have big effect. Be sure to start out slowly and with only very light weights. As you become accustomed to having the weights on your limbs, you can participate in more and more of the dance program without endangering yourself or others.
For dancers looking to reap the physical benefits of dance and weightlifting at the same time, try some of these exercises with one-pound weights on your wrists or ankles. For these excercises, a portable barre is advisable.
- Go from ballet (arm) positions one to five, and then back again, several times in a row
- Hold your arms in each position for one minute
- Do pliés and grands-pliés while bringing your arms from the side to down, up in front of the chest, and then back to the side--do about twenty on each side
- Do a series of battements on each side and at each height (working up to grand-battement)
- Standing in fifth position, slide both feet out to the sides simultaneously; pull your feet back into fifth simultaneously
- Practice your jumps (but not turns) with weights on
In addition, cardio dance routines, from flamenco to tap, all the way to hip hop, can be done with light weights on wrists and ankles. Use extreme caution when starting, and try each movement at a slower speed than you would normally do it before trying it at full tempo.
Ankle and wrist weights are more common and can be bought at general sporting goods stores. Amazon.com offers a wide selection for sale online as well.
Regardless of the type of weights you use, use caution, especially in the beginning. When used safely, dance weights can improve performance and offer an intensified workout.