The RAINBOW….a universally accepted symbol of pride, diversity, inclusion and more recently adopted as a symbol of hope, compassion and gratitude for our amazing key workers during the Covid crisis.

I’m going to help you learn to Cartwheel, breaking it down in a couple stages with options so you can ‘level up’ and become bolder as you master this fun movement. This is for all abilities… if you are differently able, find learning ‘steps’ tricky or if you use a chair, wheelchair or walking aid, you can find a way to ‘translate’ using different parts of your body. ? Or?, if you already know how to cartwheel… then your challenge is to ‘paint the rainbow’ with your cartwheels: Extend your movement, slow it down, speed it up and find something new with an old movement you take for granted.

WARM UP: Have a go at cartwheeling after another workout or have a run around, do some star jumps and have a good stretch of your legs (do a few lunges!), bend your knees, circle your shoulders, neck, wrists, ankles and hips; the more you carefully mobilise your joints the easier it will be 🙂 and less chance of any accidents. Engaging your core in your warm up will support your back throughout (sit ups or yoga help with this). Try to have a nice clear space if you can (hardest part during lockdown!). Everything can be reversed depending on what feels comfortable for you…I’m starting going to Left as that’s my preference (I’m right-handed!)

Watch the video first then check out these instructions if you need more detailed guidance:

STEP 1: Flying low! Stand with weight slightly back on your Right foot, Left foot ready to go. Bend your knees, step down on your Left foot- reach hands out and round to the floor just past your left leg. As your hands touch the floor, Lift the Right leg making a small curve behind you, and hop (drop weight onto) the Right leg as the Left leg now follows the same curve in the air behind you (about 1-2 ft off the floor), the Left leg can then land past your right leg with weight on the ground which gives your body and hands the momentum to pull up back to standing arms by side. You’ve made a little ‘wheel’!

Useful tip: If you struggle with right and left then try thinking of the 1st,  ‘lifting leg’ as the one furthest away from the direction you are going (Going left…right leg lifts high like a see-saw) It has a longer journey going round, whereas the second leg just follows. Have a go very slowly, then try with a little PUSH adding momentum by really swinging the legs.

Try SAYING it as you do it (Choose one that works for you): BEND – HANDS – RIGHT – LEFT  BEND – HANDS – LEFT – RIGHT BEND – HANDS –  1  –  2   Or if you prefer to separate the hands as they land you might say: Left – Right – Right – Left  /  Right – Left – Left – Right  /  1 – 2 – 2 – 1  etc

TIP: Imagine painting that rainbow curve in the air with first one foot then the other in a arching, pendulum or wheel-like action. You can try this with your hands too; making a rose pattern, or sitting on a chair swinging one leg up and round followed immediately by the other.

STEP 2:  Exactly the same pattern just throw your legs a little higher behind you this time, waist height or about 90 degrees.   Try and move as smoothly as possible, it’s good to start with bent knees and then lengthen your legs away, extending the feet as well, then bending again as your legs hit the ground one then the other. Remember to picture the curve of the rainbow as your legs go round.

STEP 3:  Try with BENT legs in the air, this may feel more comfortable for you! These are pretty fun when done fast!

STEP 4:  Rainbow Wheel! Try doing one wheel after another which will take you round in a circle, arms go straight back down to the floor in the same direction as you started. Don’t get too dizzy!…Have regular rests if needed.

STEP 5:  Once you feel more secure, (which may take a lot or a little practice!) try throwing your legs up higher so feet are at neck/head height (170-180 degrees!) and eventually bringing them in a big semi-circle overhead, leaving hips in the centre, extending through your body from shoulders to toes, arms stretching below you to the floor. If you haven’t done handstands or cartwheels before this may feel a little off-balance, keep strong in your centre; ‘engage’ your core by squeezing/contracting your abs/belly every time you have a go. This will support your back and help your balance. Trying to keep feet and back of neck long by looking down also helps make balancing easier.

Rainbow Improvs or Choreography?: I now challenge you, either on your own or with members of your household (older, younger, furrier!) to create a ?small dance? which embodies the qualities of a rainbow (light, colour, connectedness, an archway, a bridge, a support, a wave, a puzzle, a circle, a consequence… and any more you can think of!).  This could be just one movement or a series of connected movements or positions/scenes. You can use props, it can be inside or outside, with or without music. In my challenge video I guide you with a little inspiration to help you make some amazing, fun and surprising dances.

Happy Dancing and please share your Rainbow Cartwheel journeys with us!

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