There are many different ways that stretching can be accomplished. One important point to remember is that stretching is most advantageous when the muscles are already warmed up. In most instances, stretching at the end of class will be more beneficial. If you want to stretch before class, do a short aerobic warm up before you stretch to raise you internal body temperature. Stretching a muscle for 3 minutes is very reasonable, as it could take up to one minute just to get the muscle to relax. Dancers- work toward having a feeling, a sense in your body that the muscle you are stretching is elongating. Release all the tension in the body so you will benefit from the stretch.
Dancers it is a good practice to stretch atagonistic muscle alternately. For example, stretch the hamstrings in the back of the leg then the quadriceps muscles in the front of the legs. Alternating the stretches helps elongate the muscle even further. Dancers should also stretch the hip-flexors located in the front of the hip line alternately with the hamstrings and low back. You will know if your hamstrings and back are tight if you can not sit up on your sit bones and stretch forward without your low back immediately rounding or your knees immediately popping up off the floor. The hamstrings attach on the (sit bones) on the top and below the knee on the bottom. This is why you have to have fairly flexibly hamstrings to be able to sit at a 90-degree angle.
Dancers need to stretch on a regular basis to improve and maintain the lengthening of muscles. If you only take class a couple days a week, stretching on the other days on your own is very important. Figure out what muscles are tight and focus on these areas. A gentle stretching routine for all muscle groups is important. The arms and shoulders need to be stretched and supple just as the legs and feet. The muscles in the hips work very hard when you dance and need to be stretched and relaxed to avoid tension and injury. Remember dancers stretching is your friend!