Pilates for Dance
Most elite dancers typically train and rehearse for up to eight hours a day. Although it may seem counter-intuitive that they should push the body any further, many elite dancers do Pilates regularly. They are already in peak physical condition from their training, so how does Pilates benefit them?
When Pilates gained popularity within the dance world, it was used mainly as a preventive and rehabilitative routine. It remains a strong force to this day. Dancers can suffer many injuries during their careers. Should they wish to continue performing, they cannot completely take time off as their injury heals. Pilates helps dancers keep their normal muscle tone, core strength, and flexibility while protecting their injury due to the low-impact nature of the method. Additionally, when dancers are not injured, it helps to prevent these injuries by strengthening supportive muscles and correcting imbalances from daily training.
Typically, when athletes add a new exercise to their regime, there may be some concern that the new regime may develop muscles that do not benefit their sport. With dancers and Pilates, this is not the case. Most styles of dance focus on creating long, lean lines in the dancer. Pilates can help in the development of lengthened muscles as it is one of the main focuses of the method. Additionally, many movements in Pilates are done with the legs turned out or strengthen the muscles used to increase mobility of the hips and joints, which benefits many styles of dance, especially ballet. It can also improve coordination, which is obviously very important for a dancer.
Juliet Burnett, a professional dancer with the Australian Ballet, says that Pilates “improves coordination of breath and movement,” exactly what Joseph Pilates worked to increase. This is an important skill in dance as it allows for more freedom of movement. Although not originally created for dancers, Joe took many of the basic movements and exercises from observing the professional dance world. Pilates is the perfect addition to any elite dancer’s training.