Weekly Challenge for March 4, 2012
Whew! So much to do, I nearly forgot about this week’s challenge. But I managed to remember, so you get the challenge!
We’re going to do ummis (ommis, omis, interior hip circles, small hip circles, whatever you want to call them…) this week! Lots and lots and lots of ummis. I see a lot of “ouch!”-inducing ummis, and this is definitely one move that can crunch your lower back and shorten your dance career if you don’t do it correctly. The trick is to not stick the booty out in the back, which is what crunches that lower back and can cause pain. Protect that back! Keep your ummis muscular by using your obliques and the lowest portion of the rectus abdominus, and then a complete release of those muscles (which is your “back”) before moving to the other side.
Beginner: This is a difficult move, and one that your teacher may not have gotten to yet. If that is the case, ask about learning the ummi in class. At this level, you won’t yet have the muscular control for a smooth transition from one hip position to the next, and that’s okay…it takes time and practice, and that’s what this challenge is about! If you need to, just work on the single contractions (so basically a hip box) this week until you feel better about smoothing them out. Your challenge is to practice your ummis, in BOTH directions (no matter how much your “off” direction sucks) for one whole song every day this week.
Intermediate: Let’s talk about layering. Can you ummi and walk at the same time? It is possible, but not if you are using your knees. A lot of dancers use the knees to partially drive their ummis, and while this is mostly a dancer’s choice, it means you are basically unable to do anything else while you are doing an ummi. So practice making those ummis muscular, and then take a walk! Keep your chest out of it and lifted, don’t crunch your back, and walk smoothly. Your challenge is to walk–forwards, backwards, sideways, wherever!–while doing ummis, for one whole song every day this week.
Advanced: You aren’t going to like me after this fun little drill. We’re going to do a moving corkscrew. So, in addition to your ummi, we’re going to toss in the head and chest, and then walk with it! (A corkscrew is a clockwise movement with the head, then the chest, then the hips, then back upwards counterclockwise, or vice versa) This has the potential to look totally awkward, so make sure you keep the movements small and controlled, and walk in some relationship to the beat (though whether you full time, half-time, or quarter-time it is totally up to you and your willingness to annoy yourself). Corkscrew while walking all over–forwards, sideways, backwards, hey, even try a grapevine–for one whole song every day this week. Additional I-hate-myself challenge: add arms (one nice pattern is to frame each movement with the hands as the arms travel up or down the body). Good luck!