ballet dancers body

The Ballet Dancers Body – All About Strength

ballet dancers bodyHaving a ballet dancers body and having strength as well is a hard juggling act, but it is very possible.

Why Does A Ballet Dancers Body Need Strength?

Having a strong body is very important for ballet dancers and by having strength, we don’t mean you need to be able to pick up the heaviest weight at the gym unless of course, you are a male dancer. You need to have strength in your body to define your presence and empower you as a dancer. Having strength is more than the ability to pick up heavy weights.  Strength in your body defines your presence, enables and empowers you as a dancer.

A ballet dancers body without strength won’t be able to hold itself up with control, let alone move with grace.  Having both a strong and flexible ballet dancers body will also guard dancers against injury.

Strengthening is basically the shortening and then the contracting of the muscles.  In dancers, this is codependent on stretching, and your muscles will be healthiest when you balance strength and stretching.  A lot of this combining happens during the course of your classes.  When you do a grande battement, for example, you strengthen the quads and at the same time stretch the hamstrings.  While one muscle group relaxes, the other contracts.

As with stretching, the process of getting a stronger body requires putting your muscles through their various paces using mental as well as physical focus.  When you do a specific ballet exercise, you must learn to actively engage your attention to the exercise at hand and feel how your body is responding.  This approach will give you better results than haphazardly running through the exercises without thought.  The way that you visualize a movement has a profound effect on its execution and overall look of the step or exercise.  It helps to think of mental images to get the technique of an exercise right.

For instance, if a dancer is stretching her leg, she doesn’t just think ‘stretch my leg.’  She imagines her leg is growing longer and extending up to the heavens.  This can make the difference to whether the leg looks stunted and stiff or long, elegant and elongated.

As a ballet dancer, your strength is the key to power, endurance, and control.  Take a grande jete for instance.  To get it looking effortless takes a tremendous amount of muscular strength.  Most ballet dancers aren’t particularly interested in developing large bulky thigh muscles and are continuously striving for a streamlined look.  This is gained by doing exercises that work with the weight and force of their bodies against the push and pull of gravity.

Most of a dancer’s strength comes from the core and abdominal muscles. These muscles need to be constantly activated as the dancer works through her paces. Dancers need to visualise lifting their tummy muscles in order to give their lower back the support it needs, as well as to keep the core muscles long. An excellent thing for any dancer to do would be a weekly Pilates Class where they can learn to hone in and focus on those core muscles.

In addition, weight training will help to strengthen a ballet dancer’s body a lot, but be very careful, as you don’t want big bulky muscles like a body builder. The trick is to do many repetitions with weights that are not too heavy. Always stretch the muscles you have worked when you have finished working them. Jumping squats, either with light weights in your hands or none work very well to strengthen the lower body.

As a ballet dancer, your strength is the key to power, endurance, and control.  Take a grande jete for instance.  To get it looking effortless takes a tremendous amount of muscular strength.  Most ballet dancers aren’t particularly interested in developing large bulky thigh muscles and are continuously striving for a streamlined look.  This is gained by doing exercises that work with the weight and force of their bodies against the push and pull of gravity.

If you do frequent and careful stretches within your strengthening routine, you not only gain flexibility, you will also starve off injury and increase your ability to respond quickly and efficiently to the demands of classical ballet. The key to having a beautiful ballet dancers body is having a good balance of both flexibility and strength.

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