Finding the perfect recital warm-up: the best exercises to do before a show
female dancer on darkly lit stage doing a jump with right leg in front attitude.

Finding The Perfect Performance Warm-up: The Best Exercises To Do Before A Show

What You Have to Know

  • Preparing your body for physical activity is such an important part of a healthy and active lifestyle, especially when you’re a dancer! Warming up before a performance decreases your risk of injury, helps you focus, and boosts your confidence.
  • Warming up can feel like an extra task on top of an endless recital to-do list, so we’ve included a list of the top exercises you should be incorporating into your pre-show warm-up.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out some of our favorite warm-ups in our on-demand library of classes. All 10 minutes or less, they are sure to get your body moving and your blood pumping!
  • Most importantly, find what works best for you so you can feel comfortable while giving your muscles, joints, and mind the care they need for a killer performance!

It’s recital season! Are you ready? We want to make sure you have all the tools you need to perform at your absolute best. It’s always necessary to prepare your body for physical activity, and it’s even more important when you’re taking the stage! Next time you’re performing, try creating a pre-show ritual for yourself and include some of our favorite warm-up exercises below.

Why warm up?

When we warm up our bodies before movement, we benefit both physically and mentally.

Dynamic stretching, simple cardio, and strengthening exercises will allow your pulse and body temperature to gently raise – resulting in relaxed muscles and joints that are prepped for all types of choreography. When your muscles are cold, they’re less flexible and more prone to strain and damage. So, warming up means less injuries and more balance!

In addition to injury prevention, connecting to your body in a pre-show warm up can boost your confidence. Mindfully moving makes it easier to focus and get in the proper headspace before a show, so you can trust that you are fully prepared to step on stage and rock it!

Three things you should be doing in your pre-show warm-up

Warming up doesn’t have to be a chore! You can target your full body, increase your heart rate, and wake up your muscles in just a matter of minutes. To create a full warm-up, start with some cardio, add in dynamic stretches, and end with a bit of core-work or strength training. Try our suggested movement below!

1. Cardio

man in a black t-shirt and black shorts and woman in grey sweatshirt running in place on the pavement during daytime

5-10 minutes of cardio-driven activities to increase your heart rate. Try 2-3 minutes doing each of the following:

  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees
  • Running or walking in place

2. Dynamic Stretching

dance teacher carly blaney and assistants in black leggings and black shirt stretching in a side lunge at cli studios dance studio.

10 minutes of dynamic stretches that focus on the main muscle groups and joints. Try:

  • Hip, shoulder, and neck rolls
  • Forward fold with releves
  • Side body stretches to plie in second
  • Runner’s lunge to straight-leg stretch

Pro-Tip: You can always incorporate ballet exercises into your routine, like plies and tendus, to explore movement within stretching!

3. Strengthening:

female athlete in red leggings and white tank top doing crunches in a studio during daytime

5-10 minutes of bodyweight strength training – no need for equipment! Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions for any of the below exercises:

  • Crunches
  • Squats and lunges
  • Calf raises
  • Plank (Hold 1-2 minutes)

Not sure where to start? Check out some of our favorite warm-ups from CLI – all 10 minutes or less!

Elongating Warm-Up with Lex Ishimoto
Lex leads you through a relaxing warm-up to get you stretched and in the proper headspace to take your next class. This warm-up incorporates elements of yoga to allow your body time to lengthen and settle into each stretch so that afterward you’ll be ready to move!

Warm-Up and Get Grounded with Karla Garcia
Prepare for a performance or audition with this plié-intensive warm-up from Karla. This class will leave you feeling strong and stable as you work through isolations and deepen the connection to your core.

Party Grooves with JBlaze
Party with JBlaze in this colorful and insightful hip-hop warm-up! Move through a series of grooves while adding your own flavor, rocking it out, and getting your body prepped to take your next hip-hop combo class.

Now that you have a few easy pre-show warm-up exercises in your back pocket, we hope you’ll take some time before your next show to listen to your body and find what works best for you. Remember, everyone is different, and the most important part of warming up is finding movement that feels good for your body!

Oh, and don’t forget to break a leg!

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