PILATES & DANCE
By: The Dance World Editor
By: Kristen Padden
Looking for the perfect cross training exercise to enhance your dance technique?
Pilates may be just the thing to help you strengthen your core while increasing flexibility and it happens to be lots of fun too!
Dance greats like Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine, Rudolf von Laban, Hanya Holm, and Martha Graham all used the Pilates method!
WHAT IS PILATES?
Pilates is a mind-body exercise program developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Pilates uses movement and breath to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. Full body movements performed on a mat, or using specially designed equipment, focus on the core muscle groups of the abdomen and the back.
THE PILATES – DANCE CONNECTION
Although founder Joseph Pilates was not a dancer, he worked with many famous dancers when he moved to the United States from Europe. Dance greats like Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine, Rudolf von Laban, Hanya Holm, and Martha Graham worked with Pilates and often sent their dancers to see him for injury rehabilitation.
So why did these dance masters, and hundreds of dancers since, take to Pilates so eagerly? For one, both disciplines use the whole body, and focus the mind in their movements. Both Pilates and dance tend to create long and lean muscles, and use resistance and momentum to work on strength, flexibility, and posture.
In addition, many of the exercises in isolate key muscles used in dance technique, thus naturally strengthening dance movements. When I studied dance in college, Pilates training was part of a body alignment class I took. After several months of working on the Pilates Reformer apparatus, I noticed my balance in ballet class had improved, as did my pirouettes, and strength in jumping.
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