Sunday, March 9, 2008

Core Muscles And Ballet Technique

Learn more about your core muscles and how they stabilize the body and prevent injuries and low back pain.


To enhance your ballet technique, and your grace, in ballet shoes and pointe shoes, the following tips will help. When you build strength in your core, you support high extensions, pirouette and fouette positions, pointe work and grand allegro.

From a Mayo Clinic article:

"Core muscles

Your body's core is the area around your trunk and pelvis. When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work in harmony. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities - from swinging a golf club to getting a glass off a top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
Enter core exercises

Core exercises help you strengthen your core muscles. And it doesn't take specialized equipment or an expensive gym membership to try core exercises. Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support counts. Think squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches."

The article then presents some simple and effective core exercises that anyone can do.

As a ballet student, your core muscles are engaged all the time. Posture and turnout depend on your core muscles.

For some details on ballet turnout go HERE

Correct neutral spine, and correct turnout is the basis of your stability.

  • Holding the turnout in your deep hip rotators 
  • Assisting with your inner thigh muscles
  • Supporting with your lower ab muscles pulled up and flat, 

allows for a relaxed upper body, and smooth head movements and port de bras.

A wonderful and simple way to improve the strength of your core muscles for ballet, is doing slow press ups in retire position.

Using the barre lightly, press up slowly, maintaining your posture and turnout.

Be aware of moments where your neck, shoulders or arms tense up - that is where you are letting go of your core strength. It's an easy marker to watch for.

When you can do this effortlessly, you are ready to do it without the barre. This will build strength for every movement. You will feel much stronger in pirouettes and will be able to add more turns.

When you get into pointe shoes, you will not be struggling with an incorrect position that will be throwing you off your tiny pointe of connection with the floor.

Nor will you be straining or collapsing into your ending positions.

All this applies to male students too - their investment in this kind of strength building will result in better pirouettes and control in grand allegro.

You'll continue to build strength if your basic ballet exercises are done accurately. Core muscles with the addition of turnout, is where you start, in your aspirations to pointe work and dancing classical choreography.

For professional tips on core muscles and ballet technique I think The Perfect Pointe Book is the best reference.

It gives lots of exercises and ways to test your core muscle strength.

Here is the author of The Perfect Pointe Book showing an exercise for turnout:

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