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Dancers are using Pilates to improve their performances – are you?

Dancers are using Pilates to improve their performances – are you?

Strictly fever is gripping the nation, Saturday night saw a record number of people watching the dancing show. Have you been inspired to take your dancing to the next level? or perhaps over the last three weeks you’ve been motivated to attend your first class?

Whether you’re an elite dancer looking to break in to the competitive scene or a complete beginner to dancing the benefits of Pilates for dance remain the same. In fact, many Pilates teachers in the UK are ex-dancers who have experienced the benefits of Pilates first hand!

Joseph Pilates created eight principles that are still taught today, these principles can be directly linked to dancers practice, performance, training and recovery.

The Eight Principles

Stamina – There are very few ways to replicate dance in order to improve your fitness. You could go running, but how often do you run on stage? You could hit the gym, but do weights replicate the flexibility of dance?

By training in Pilates you can build up your endurance and strength in a manner that replicates similar movements in dance, no other sport allows you to keep your muscles long and lean. An increase in stamina will help you as a dancer perform for longer. As well as being less fatigued throughout training.

Core Strength – Developing strong core muscles encourages good posture, which leads to developing a strong back. In turn all arm movements come from the back. Strong core muscles are essential for all dancers to ensure quality of movement.

Concentration – Pilates focuses on the ability to focus on each individual movement of the body and blocking out everything around you. In a sport that requires the precision of dance the ability to focus on each individual movement is crucial to progressing.

Breathing – Have you watched a celebrity in the early stages of strictly splutter through their post dance interview after an energetic Foxtrot or Jive? Even the athletes, dance fitness is completely different, however by the end of the competition they’re cool and composed, this is down to continual Pilates training. By practising breathing into the back and ribs, as well as maximising the lower part of the lungs you can propel more energetic movement.

Body Awareness – Pilates is designed to allow you, without the use of mirrors, to be aware of how your body feels when it moves correctly. This is a skill that all dancers need to develop. It also means you have a better understanding of your limits, you can take counter measures when you feel your body straining in order to prevent injury.

Precision – Similarly to concentration, the focus Pilates encourages on the little things that can make or break a dance routine A dancer must strive to execute each movement with precision to ensure quality at all times.

Relaxation – Pilates will allow your body to relax and release built up tension. Dancers train hard and often carry tension in to performances – the audience do not want to see this! Pilates can help you relax and loosen muscles in order to give your all on the big night.

Flow – In Pilates each exercise should flow in to the next in a smooth fashion, making the exercises appear to be effortless, there should be no beginning and no end. Similarly an exceptional dance performance should also appear effortless!

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