By Tanya Fitzpatrick
Although we may not have the long, lithe limbs, the symmetrical features or the ‘won’t get out of bed for less than £10,000’ wage packet, thanks to Tanya Fitzpatrick – co-founder of Align, Somatic Movement Educator and yoga teacher – in a few easy steps you too can adopt that confident, signature supermodel sashay.
Make sure you are comfortable. Choose the right shoes. If you’re not used to walking in heels, start with a thin two-inch heel, or a low wedge heel, preferably one that you have already broken in. Later, you can work your way up to walking in higher, less comfortable heels. If the shoes are new, scratch the soles with scissors so that they will not slip when they touch the floor. Alternatively, you can cover the sole of the shoe with masking tape, if you don’t want to scratch your shoes.
Learn to stand like a supermodel. Practice your posture. Throw your shoulders back, and push your pelvis slightly forward. It might create the illusion that you’re leaning back a little, rather than hunching forward. You should be able to balance a book on the top of your head.
Train yourself to place the heel of the foot down first, then your toes, but keep most of your weight balanced on the ball of your foot rather than on the heel. It may feel strange, but keeping much of your weight on the ball of the foot gives you more of an elegant stride than a clunky heel- weighted walk would. It’s almost like walking on your tippy-toes, the way ballerinas do, but more natural.
Put one foot in front of the other (literally). Toes should face forward. Your footprints should form a single line, as if you are walking on a rope or a beam. When done quickly, this gives the body that characteristic swing. You ankles should never bump, this is painful and may make you fall!
Make your stride look long and commanding by lifting your legs almost in the same fashion a horse would while doing trotting leg extensions. For each stride, you want to lift your foot a good distance off the ground (with a bend in the knee) and then place it down a good distance in front of the supporting leg, with a stride longer than a normal walk would have. Don’t make your strides too large as this will make you look awkward and ungraceful, but make sure you take large enough steps, rather than just baby steps. Remember to turn with your hip. It’s hard to describe but easy to do.
Adopt a sultry stare. Look straight forward, capturing the essence of the clothes you’re wearing with the expression on your face. Focus on an object straight ahead of you (but don’t stare at a viewer…that is creepy). Keep your chin level and your eyes up – you want the spectators to see your face. Keep your head and shoulders still as your body moves down the runway. Your head and shoulders should feel a little like a sturdy coat hanger, and things should swing from there. Don’t swing your shoulders, and don’t over exaggerate arm movements. Do make sure, however, that your hips swing more than they would usually. This may take some practice to look good. When the beats to your music are slower, swing your hips more and slow your pace. When you make your turn at the end, make sure your left foot is in front as you pause for a beat or double beat in your music. Your hips, shoulders, and feet should be facing the side of the runway as your head is turned to look straight on at the audience over your shoulder. After pausing or posing for a beat, pivot your feet back towards the curtain or glass, pick up your front foot first (your right foot), and continue walking. Make sure that your face is the last thing to turn away from the audience.
Fingers naturally fidget or fist up when you’re nervous, but don’t let them! It will be a bigger distraction than you realize. Just let them hang down, relaxed. Shaking your hands out before you walk will help your fingers relax and look more natural.
Develop your own signature walk. There’s no simple formula for walking the runway, and what will ultimately make you stand out is not only how well you can move your body but also how much of your own personality you can inject into your performance to make it memorable. The best way to create your own unique style is to experiment, practice, and get feedback (even if it means taking some constructive criticism).
Align Somatics, The Fourth Floor Practice, 86 Harley Street, London W1G 7HP, www.alignsomatics.com